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Did Homer's Trojan War Exist?

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The Trojan War, the event depicted in Homer's Iliad, was the most popular subject in Greek drama and told its story elaborately to next generations. According to Homer, the war started because Helen, the most beautiful Greek woman and wife of a Greek king, Menelaus, decided to leave her husband and ran away with a Trojan Prince, Paris. This angered the Greeks so they sailed to Troy and fought for Helen's return. As the war continued on, the Greeks were forced to plan a new strategy to attack Troy since the city had very strong walls and the Greeks began to realize they were unable to defeat the Trojans. The plan was to build a huge, hollow, wooden horse that was filled with Greeks soldiers. It led the Trojans to believe that the horse was left to thank Athena, the goddess of wisdom, and the Greeks burned their camps and sailed as if they had given up. The Trojans found the horse and the ashes of the camp and dragged the horse into the city to celebrate their victory. At midnight, the Greek soldiers jumped down from the horse and opened the gate for the rest of the army to come in. None of the Trojan males were left alive and the Greeks brought Troy to the end by burning it.

Some experts believe that the Trojan War described in the Iliad never occur, while many others are convinced that the epic is based on real historical events. Because Homer's story is a rare mixture of gods and goddesses, heroes and heroines, many people believe that it is nothing but a fictional story. Not only the war, but the city of Troy itself is also questioned for its existence. However, by works from many famous archaeologists, for example, Manfred Korfmann and Heinrich Schliemann, the Homeric Tale may not remain only as a legend as there are many arguments and evidences that could prove the existence of such event.

The Trojan War, according to Homer, lasted about 10 years, and the city of Troy appears to have been destroyed around twelfth century B.C. Old ruins of cities were found in layers at Hissarlik, the location consistent with the lay of land in Homer's Iliad. Though the epic poem did not identify the exact location of Troy, it described some landmarks near it. For example, the Iliad said that Troy stood on a windy plain, and described how the gods watched the battle between the Greeks and Trojans from a mountain on the island of Samothrace. Also, it said that the Greek army camped on an island called Bozcaada. Both of the places can bee seen from the mound at Hissarlik. There is also nothing in the archaeological record to contradict the predication that Troy formed the setting of the Iliad. Moreover, the two layers of the city ruins were found by archaeologists during the excavation of this mound that date back to the time of the Trojan War. The sixth and seventh layers of the ruins are from about 1800 to 1275 B.C. and from 1275 to 1240 B.C., which match with the date when the Trojan War was fought.

The main argument against the connection between these ruins and the remarkable city in the Iliad has been that Troy was merely an insignificant city and not a place worth fighting over. However, as it appears, this city was in fact rather large at that time and very important in controlling access from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea and from the Asia Minor to southeast Europe. The most recent excavations have determined that Troy, now covering about seventy-five acres, is about fifteen times larger than formerly thought. Therefore, this evidence verifies that Troy could be worth fighting for and supports the claim that Trojan War could have taken place. Furthermore, the events that are described in the Iliad are clearly consistent with the condition of the ruins. Homer's Troy was known for its wealth and power, and Troy VI (the sixth layer of city ruins), too, contained conforming evidences, which can be seen in the construction of the walls and buildings. The inward-leaning walls around Troy were constructed of limestone, along with the outer surface wall construction that indicate that people who lived there could afford to construct more than just simple walls. This type of well-built walls should be the same as the one described in the Iliad as very strong and could not easily be destroyed by the Greeks. This, according to Homer, was the reason why the Greeks had to come up with the wooden horse plan in order to defeat The Trojan. Therefore, it proves that Homer's story could possibly be true.

In addition to the city ruins, ancient artifacts such as weapons and armor, Hittite clay tablets, and ancient pottery could also be evidence to prove the existence of Troy and The Trojan War. Weapons and armor believed to be from the Bronze Age, the time when the Trojan War occur, have been discovered at Greece and during the excavation of Troy VI and Troy Vlla. Moreover, an arrowhead believed to be used by an invader was found west of the main street in Troy. Also, a vase, approximately 3200 years old, showing Mycenaean warriors who with helmets like the ones described in Homer's Iliad was discovered. There is also evidence of a great deal of sling bullets. This implies that the city was defeated by an attacker for those who have successfully defended their city would have gathered the sling bullets and put them away, but a defeater would have done nothing with them.

As for the ancient pottery found in Troy VI, it was beautiful Mycenaean pottery which is an indicator that trade between trade between Troy and Mycenae had taken place. On the other hand, no imported pots were discovered in the artifacts found at Troy Vlla. This lack of import goods implies that Troy Vlla must have been separated from the rest of the world and had to depend on itself. Besides, a great deal of huge storage jars believed to have been packed with foods for the people to survive during the war described by Homer was found. In fact, some of the jars



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