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Homer's Iliad, and the city of Troy

Quick Directory
Archaelogical History of Troy
Site of Troy
Human Remains
Liturary History of Troy
Beginning of Troy
Who’s Who in the Iliad
Gods and Goddesses
Scenes of Action


Archaelogical History of Troy


Site of Troy


At the area commonly thought of as the site of the city of Troy there is not one city, but several over laid cities. When one city would fall, a new one would be paved right over the top of the old one. Troy VIIa is the level most associated with the Iliad, and Trojan War. Troy VIIa is dated 1275-1240 B.C. by Blegen, but this city may in fact have begun as early as ca. 1325 B.C. and lasted remained to 1190 B.C. against the idea of it having been a short-lived settlement. The date of the demolition of this city has been a debated by Blegen to be 1240 B.C. but changed this to 1270. Nylander has debated that the date is as low as 1200-1190 B.C. based on the Mycenaean goods which were imported during its existence. If people agree with Blegen, Dörpfeld, Schliemann, and many several others, then Hissarlik is the site of Homeric Troy and if people think of the Trojan War of Greek myth to have taken place, then Troy VIIa is the candidate for the fortress/city of King Priam. Later numerous Greeks placed the Trojan War at different date, for example: 1184 B.C. was decided upon by Eratosthenes, 1209 or 1208 B.C. was used by the Parian Marble, 1250 B.C. was the date selected by Herodotus, and 1334 or 1333 B.C. was the choice of Douris. Troy VIIa was destroyed in a large conflagration, destroying the buildings out side the citadel as well as those within it.




The fallen fortifications of Troy VI were reconstructed for use in Troy VII’s defense. In the section of the east gate an addition was made which ran southerly, the purpose was to make the approach of any attackers more difficult. The brick work of this continuation used several of the collapsed bricks from the walls of Troy VI. Repair also was under taken to the main south gate which consisted of "paving" the entrance way and the addition of a drain that laid under the new paving. Massive reconstruction to the south and southeast section of the defenses was also made.




Few of the huge houses of Troy VI were re-built, some of them had been so destroyed by the earthquake which hit Troy VIh that they simply built new houses over them. The buildings of Troy VIIa were constructed more packed inside the citadel than the houses of Troy VI. The houses of Troy VIIa are usually one or three room buildings which share walls. The buildings on the lowest level were constructed along the inside surface of the defensive walls, thus ignoring a typical defensive principle. The floors of many of these buildings had several pits which were dug for the use of storage under the ground level and then sealed at the tops by large stone slabs. This care seems to indicate that the city was under siege.




Water supplies inside the enclosing walls consisted of a paved area with a well, this paved area seems to have been a public court area slightly east of the foundation of House VIF which was over built, and a massive cistern in Tower VI g, which was rebuilt following the earthquake which leveled Troy VIh.


Human Remains


Pieces from a human skull have been located within House 700, which is located inside the south gate. A lower jawbone from an adult male was located in rubble from the destruction covering the flooring of House 741 outside the citadel, located just to the east. A full skeleton was found at the top of a stratum, located west of the wall. These bones from the deaths of Troy VIIa are important in the fact that they show the failure of any possible survivors of Troy VIIa to bury all its dead.




The material in Troy VIIa was the same as that of the preceding settlement, and the citizens of Troy VIIa and means that they were most likely survivors of the earthquake which destroyed Troy VIh. The main change in the citadels of Troy VIh and Troy VIIa is the use of space within the walls. A greatly larger citizenry sought safety inside the defenses of Troy VIIa, most likely the effect of some sort of threat. The work of this citizenry on storage space, like the dug in storage areas further indicates a state of siege towards the ending of Troy VIIa. The very violent ending of Troy VIIa is evident of the failure of Troy's citizenry to hold back the attackers and withstand the siege, against which the population had fully prepared themselves. The collapse of the city is the outcome of human work, most likely the outcome of a war. During Troy VIIa’s existence a large part of Troy’s citizenry moved to within the defenses. The decline in the amount of imported Mycenaean pots in Troy VIIa is a notion of the attackers' identity. Meaning that if the attackers were Mycenaean it would not be shocking that the amount of Mycenaean pottery imported into the city would go down. Mainland Greeks leveled Troy at the same time period as their own cities were being destroyed. The destruction of the Greek’s cities could be a direct outcome of the absence of large numbers of defenders who were besieging Troy at that time.


Liturary History of Troy


Beginning of Troy


Mythology and legend start the history of Troy, Ilium, city of Priam, or whatever else a person would call the site of this ill fated city, as being built by the gods Apollo and Poseidon, at a period during which they were under punishment, and this punishment was being forced to labor with mortal men. Their labor created the city of Troy for Laomedon. The gods asked Aeacus to help them with the construction, since it had been declared that the city of Troy would someday be over ran in a location built by mortal hands. After it had been constructed, Troy was assulted and taken by Hercules, Telamon, and Peleus, as a reprive for Laomedon not giving Hercules the reward of several immortal horses for saving Laomedon's daughter Hesione. Telamon then killed Laomedon and took Hesione as a slave.




Later Priam, King of Troy, son of Laomedon, had a son by his wife Hecuba, who had a vision in which she dreamed that she had given birth to a torch. Cassandra thought that the new-born son, who was named Paris, should be killed or he would cause the destruction of the city. Paris was to be killed, but he was rescued by shepherds and grew up away from Troy in the farming communities around Mount Ida. After growing into a young man he went back to Troy to take part some athletic games, this caused him to be recognized, and he was returned to the royal family of Priam.


As for the gods, Thetis fell in love. It was them foreshadowed that Thetis would have a son stronger than Zeus, who remembered how he gained power by taking over his father’s position. Zeus thought about this and then gave Thetis to king Peleus.




All gods and goddesses where invited to this wedding except Eris. The goddess Eris was not invited since she was the goddess of strife, and Peleus and Thetis did not want to have any strife at their wedding. Eris took this as a very serious offence, and Eris found a way to make strife at the wedding. She threw a golden apple into party on which was written "for the fairest." Instantly Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite started to argue over the golden apple. Everyone one of them thought that she was "the fairest", and Zeus decided to put the dispute to a rest. Zeus thought about it, and knew that if he selected one of the goddesses, the other two goddesses would do their best to make his life miserable ever after, so instead of choosing between them, Zeus told the three to Mount Ida, near the large walled city of Troy.




Paris was on the top the hill when the goddesses came to him. Zeus thought that this mortal should select which of the goddesses would get the golden apple. To bribe Paris the three goddesses made different offers to him. Hera offered Paris all of Asia as his kingdom and infinite riches. Athena offered Paris victory in war and wisdom beyond all other mortals. Aphrodite offered Paris the most beautiful woman in the world. Paris chose the more valuable to be women, and Paris gave the apple to Aphrodite.


Meanwhile in Greece Helen was being courted by several suitors. So many suitors saught her that to choose one would start a war. To stop a war from breaking out King Tydareus forces all the suitors create a pact. Every suitor was to respect the privlages of the selected suitor as husband and to come to his aid if Helen was ever forcibly taken away. Helen then selected King Menelaus, from Sparta, to be her husband.




Aphrodite had to keep her promise to Paris, and made a plan to get him Helen, the most beautiful women. Aphrodite told Paris to go to the city of Sparta, and all went as planned. Upon reaching Sparta, Menelaus gave him a great welcoming to the palace at Amyklai and several parties then started. While Paris was in Sparta Aphrodite forced Helen to love Paris. On the tenth day of celibration King Idomeneus sent word that he wanted to see King Menelaus. Menelaus left for Crete, and after King Menelaus left, Helen married Paris. They spent their first night on the island Kranai near Githeon, and the next day they set sail for Troy.




News of Paris's action quickly reached Menelaus in Crete, who became very upset. He headed straight to Mycenae and sought the help his brother King Agamemnon. Agamemnon pledged to lead forces to Troy to retake Helen.


All of the kings in Greek met at Aulis, a bay which was centeraly located. Agamemnon was selected as the leader of the force since he gave the most troops to the effort. The army could not set sail for Troy because the winds were coming out of the wrong direction. While waiting for favorable winds a profit predicted that the war with Troy would take place for ten years. After waiting Agamemnon came to the conclusion that he had offended the gods so he sacrificed his daughter. Soon after this sacrifice the flotilla of 1000 vessels sailed for Troy.


During the voyage to Troy Philoctetes, commander of seven ships from Methone, had a snake bite him when the Greeks flotilla landed on shore at Tenedos to have a sacrifice. "His pain was so great and his wound so unpleasant (especially the smell) that the Greek army abandoned him against his will on the island." After this they set sail once again for Troy and they shortly landed on the beaches before Troy. After the landing Hector killed Protesilaus, who was the first to set foot on the land. The group sent yet another man to Troy to bring back Helen. After the Trojans refussed them, the Greek army started a seige which lasted 10 years, and this is where the Iliad, writen by Homer starts. The Iliad varies depending on which translation a peron reads and may have a different name, but they are all the same story.


Who’s Who in the Iliad


Gods and Goddesses

[Roman names are given in brackets]


Aphrodite [Venus]:
Daughter of Zues and Dione; favors the Trojans.
Son of Zues and Leto; favors the Trojans.
Ares [Mars]:
Son of Zues; favors the Trojans.
Artemis [Diana]:
Daughter of Zues and Leto, favors the Trojans.
Athena [Minerva]:
Daughter of Zues; favors Greeks.
Son of Cronus; ruler of the underworld of the dead.
Hephaestus [Vulcan]:
Son of Zues and Hera; favors the Greeks.
Hera [Juno]:
Daughter of Cronus and wife of Zues; queen of the Gods; favors the Greeks.
Hermes [Mercury]:
Sone of Zues; favors the Trojans.
Messenger of the gods.
Physician to the gods.
Poseidon [Neptune]:
Son of Cronus; king of the sea; favors the Greeks.
A sea nymph, wedded to a mortal, Peleus; mother of Achilles.
Zeus [Jupiter, Jove]:
Son of Cronus [Saturn]; king of the gods and ruler of the sky; arbiter of human destiny.
God of the river Scamander:
Also called Xanthus; favor the Trojans.


[Greeks are also called Achaeans, Danaans, or Argives]


Son of Peleus and the sea nymph Thetis; grandson of Aeacus, son of Zues; chief of the Myrmidons from Phthia and Hellas.
Son of Atreus; king of Argos and Mycenae; leader of the host.
Son of Telamon; ruler of Salamis.
Son of Oileus; ruler of Locris.
Son of Nestor.
Leader of Miniae; son of Ares.
Son of Thestor; seer and interpreter of omens.
Son of Tydeus and grandson of Oeneus; king of Middle Argos, Tiryns, and Aegina.
Greek herald.
Wife of Menelaus, seduced by Paris.
Son of Deucalion and grandson of Minos, king of Crete.
Son of the healer Asclepius; physician to the Greeks.
Son of Atreus; husband of Helen; king of Sparta, also called Lacedaemon.
Son of Molus, comrade and squire of Idomeneus.
Son of Neleus; aged king of Pylus and Dorium; father of Antilochus and Thrasymedes.
Son of Laertes and husband of Penelope; king of Ithaca and leader of Cephallenians.
Son of Menoetius; comrade and squire of Achilles.
Son of Amyntor; foster son of Achilles’ father and old friend of Achilles; ruler of the Dolopians in Phthia.
Son of Capaneus; comrade of Diomed.
Greek herald.
Illegitimate son of Telamon, half brother of the first Ajax; a bowman.
Ugliest of the Greek soldiers; an endless talker.
Son of Heracles; from Rhodes.



Son of Antenor.
Son of Anchises and the goddess Aphrodite; leader of the Dardanians.
Daughter of Aetion, king of Cilicia; wife of Hector and mother of his little son Astyanax.
Aged councilor to Priam and the Trojans.
Son of Antenor.
Daughter of Priam and Hecuba; a prophet.
Son of Priam.
Son of Eumedes; scout for the Trojans.
Son of Hippolochus and grandson of Bellerophon; comrade and squire of Sarpedon.
Son of Priam; commander of the Trojan army.
Wife of Priam; queen of Troy.
Son of Priam; soothsayer for the Trojans.
Trojan herald.
Daughter of Priam and Hecuba; wife of Helicaon, son of Antenor.
Son of Antenor.
Son of Priam.
Son of Lycaon; chief of Telea, near Mount Ida.
Also called Alexander, son of Priam; seducer of Helen.
Son of Panthous; Trojan warrior and councilor.
Son of Laomedon and descendant of Tros, the founder of Troy, and of Dardanus, son of Zues; king of Troy.
Son of Eoneus; king of Thrace.
Son of Zeus and Laodamia, grandson of Bellerophon; leader of the Lycians.
Daughter of Cisseus and wife of Antenor; priestess of Anthene.

Scenes of Action


The plain before Troy, through which flows the river of Scamander, also called Xanthus.
The camp of the Greeks around their black ships, which lie drawn up in a long row on the edge of the seashore.
The city of Troy, also called Ilium, on a height above the plain, with its citadel, called Pergamum.
The seat of the gods on Mount Olympus in northern Thessaly.


For images of the Trojan war follow the links below


Scene containing a view of the seaward side of Troy


Scene containing a view of the landward side of Troy


Scene containing Ajax, Cassandra, Aeneas, and Anchises


Scene containing Achilles dragging Hector's body


Scene containing Achilles carring for wounded Patroclus


Scene containing Athena


Scene containing the death of Achilles


Scene containing the death of Priam


Scene containing the rescue of Aithra