Devoir de Philosophie

Trojan War

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Greek A legendary war fought between Achaean (Greek) invaders and the defenders of Troy, a seaport at the northwestern tip of Asia Minor, around 1200–1300 b.c. (See below for an account of recent archaeological discoveries that make it certain that such a war, or series of wars, took place.) The events of this war and the return to their homes of some of the Greek generals make up a body of myth that was recounted over the centuries and eventually reshaped and written down by the great poet Homer in two epics: the Iliad, which describes the end of the Trojan War, and the Odyssey, the journeys of one of the Greek heroes, Odysseus. The story of the 10-year struggle between the Greeks and Trojans is complex. The cause of the war, according to Greek mythology, was said to be a beauty contest between three goddesses. The silverfooted sea Nymph, Thetis, and the king of Aegina, Peleus, neglected to invite Eris, goddess of strife, to their wedding. In her anger, Eris threw "the apple of discord" into the midst of the wedding throng. The apple was inscribed "To the Fairest." Three goddesses immediately claimed the apple: Hera, the chief goddess and wife of Zeus; Athene, goddess of war; and Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty. When asked to make a choice among the three goddesses, Zeus wisely declined and gave the task to a young Trojan prince, Paris, who was said to be exceedingly handsome. The three goddesses wooed young Paris, tempting him with bribes. Paris succumbed to the offer of Aphrodite, who promised him the love of the most beautiful woman in the world in return for the apple. At that time, the most beautiful woman in the world was Helen, the young queen of King Menelaus of Sparta. Paris went to the court of Menelaus, won Helen, and carried her away to Troy. King Menelaus immediately rallied around him all the former lovelorn suitors of Helen, who had promised to fight anyone who might try to steal Helen away from Greece. Menelaus chose his brother, Agamemnon, king of Mycenae, as leader of the army. Agamemnon soon had a fleet of 1,000 ships ready to sail for Troy. (In later literature, Helen's face was described as "the face that launched a thousand ships.") Among the first victims of the war was one of Agamemnon's daughters, Iphigenia, sacrificed in order to gain fair winds to Troy. Achilles was the principal hero of the Greeks who took part in the Trojan War. His contingent numbered about 50 ships and he led his own army, unlike the other Greeks who acknowledged the leadership of Agamemnon and his huge fleet. Achilles captured a number of towns on the coast near Troy. Among his prizes was the beautiful slave girl Briseis. Agamemnon stole Briseis away from Achilles. Furious, Achilles withdrew from the war, causing a serious setback to the Greeks. The quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon was one of the starting points of the events of the latter part of the Trojan War described by Homer in the Iliad. Later, Achilles would rejoin the war and help bring the Greeks to victory, this time under the leadership of his dear friend Patroclus. Hector killed Patroclus. Achilles then slew Hector and dragged his dead body around the ruins of Troy. Led by the hero Hector, the Trojans were successful in many major engagements, especially when Achilles temporarily left the conflict after the quarrel with Agamemnon. Eventually, the Trojans lost the war when the Greek hero Odysseus had the cunning idea of hiding troops within a huge wooden horse delivered as a gift within the walls of Troy. The selected troops broke out of their hiding place in the dead of night, slew the Trojans, and looted and set fire to their city. The gods themselves took sides in the Trojan War and played an active part in the hostilities. Apollo and the war god Ares supported the Trojans, as did Aphrodite, the champion of Paris. Athene, Hera, and Poseidon backed the Greeks, and Hephaestus, the smith-god, made armor for Achilles. The Trojan War was the last great communal enterprise of the Greek heroes. Although it succeeded in its aim to rescue Helen, the difficulties were great and long, and an air of failure and defeat seemed to hang over the enterprise. Few of the heroes returned to find their homes secure. The Trojan War: Fact or Fiction? The Trojan War of Greek mythology lasted for 10 years, ending in the sack of Troy and a victory for the Greeks. Scholars now think that such a war did indeed take place, around 1200–1300 b.c. Recent archaeological finds confirm that there was a city of Troy. Extensive Bronze Age burial grounds and many crematory urns, perhaps some of slain heroes, have been excavated. In addition, caches of food have been found buried beneath the walls of the city, very likely by people from the countryside who were taking refuge within the city walls during a lengthy siege by marauding tribes. It seems certain that there were numerous trade routes common to the Greeks and the Trojans. Troy, at the northwestern tip of Asia Minor, controlled the seaway between the Aegean and the Black seas, through the narrow inlet called, in ancient times, the Hellespont, now known as the Dardanelles. This strait led to the Sea of Marmara, which in turn led to the Black Sea via the passageway known as the Bosporus. Once Troy had fallen, the Greeks were able to establish colonies along the coast of Asia Minor. They dealt in gold, silver, iron, cinnabar, timber, linen, hemp, dried fish, oil, and Chinese jade. In fact, the return of Helen to the Greeks may have symbolized the restoration of Greek rights to enter the Hellespont. The Iliad may be an assemblage of folk memories of a series of raids by the Greeks against the shores of Anatolia (Asia Minor)—and, in particular, Troy, the guardian of the Dardanelles—to ensure vital passage to the Black Sea and its valuable trade. The Wooden Horse of Troy The Trojan War came to an end when the Greek hero Odysseus had the idea of building a huge wooden horse, inside which would be hidden hundreds of Greek soldiers. The horse was given as a gift to the Trojans and dragged within their walls. In the dark of night, the Greek soldiers burst forth from their clever hiding place, fought the unprepared soldiers and citizens of Troy, and destroyed the city, thus winning the war. Many explanations for the Trojan horse have been put forth. The most likely is that it was a battering ram, a device used to knock down walls since ancient times. The massive walls of Troy, with their sloping bases, presented an almost unsolvable problem to enemy forces. It seems likely that the Greeks constructed a towering "ram" that would be capable of attacking the more vulnerable upper structure of the walls. The "legs" raised the battering ram up to the level of the superstructure. The tool would be moved up to the wall on rollers. To the soldiers, the battering ram may have looked somewhat like a gigantic horse. In the ancient world, it was common for soldiers to give animal nicknames to pieces of equipment. For example, the Romans called their catapults scorpions. The word ram comes from the name for a male sheep or goat, which has a solid, sturdy shape.

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