*Note: This article was originally written in 2012.
CONTENT WARNING: this article contains some language, crude humor, and references to adult relations.
1250 BCE (aprox): THE FALL OF TROY
At the Dawn of the ‘Heroic Age’ (during the midst of the Bronze Age), when monsters, and myths walked among men, The War for Troy is said to have waged for Ten Years between the united kingdoms of Greece (the Achaeans), and the Trojans (of Troy). Since this event occurred prior to history as we know it, it’s practically impossible to decipher the facts from the myths, except for the whole interference of the Gods aspect. The Trojan War is considered by many scholars to be the focal point of Greek Mythology, since the conflict is attributed to a quarrel between the Olympians interfering in mortal affairs, because they were bored sitting around on clouds and gossiping about the affairs of Aries and Aphrodite.
The walled-City of Troy was a fortress, a massive palace of luxury, but after ten-long-years, and a Trojan-Horse-prank later the city was ransacked, pillaged, and burned to the ground. Therefore the exact location of Troy’s ruins are uncertain to this day, but most scholars believe it was located in what is now modern-day Turkey. Most of what we know about this ancient war comes from a kick-ass Epic-Poem called “The Illiad” by Homer… the author of ‘The Odyssey’, no not the doughnut-eating-Simpson.
Both ‘The Illiad’ and ‘The Odyssey’ are centered around the Trojan War.
In ‘The Odyssey’, Odysseus (also known as Ulysses) becomes lost out at sea, for a good decade, in an attempt to return home from the war to Greece and his family, but must contend with Sirens, Calypso, a Cyclops, and one pissed-off ocean deity (Poseidon) intent on making his journey as miserable as possible. ‘The Illiad’ on the other hand focuses on the end of the war, and the fall of Troy.
In Homer’s interpretation of this full-scale siege, demi-god-for-hire: Achilles steals the show with his all-around bad-ass-ness, smiting fools left and right like a young Michael Jordan. Homer uses more graphic epithets than a Marvel comic book by Stan Lee (“…swift-footed-Achilles… our long-haired Achaeans … the man-killing Hector…”) Achilles was one of a dozen Greek heroes who boasted super-natural origins. It seems that no matter where you went in the ancient world, you had a good chance of running into a guy whose mom hooked up with Zeus. In many ways, these larger-than-life Greek heroes were the proto-type to today’s modern Superheroes, except with less spandex, and more toga…
Achilles was practically the opposite of Odysseus in every way. Odysseus was clever and cunning, using his MacGyver-like ingenuity to think his way out of any shenanigans the gods threw at him. Not Achilles, he was all brawn, preferring the less subtle approach of stabbing mo-fos in the face repeatedly till they die.
Ok, so we know there were two armies, and we know they were fighting, and we know that it was at this fabled city of Troy, and that there was a Pantheon of Gods betting on the outcome, but what was the catalyst for all this? Well… it was all over a chick, named Helen. Granted, she was said to have been so beautiful her face alone ‘launched a thousand ships’… and not in the opposite direction.
According to the Ancient Greeks, the reason behind this conflict stemmed from a dispute between the gods. Eris, god of discord, arrived uninvited to Zeus’s banquet on Olympus, and sabotaged the ceremony by throwing a golden apple for the fairest of them all into the midst of a crowd of self-absorbed deities. Naturally Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite all began to tear each other’s hair out over the mystical fruit. Zeus, not wanting to deal with this drama decided to let a mortal handle it. Hermes delivered the golden apple to the Prince of Troy, a young man named Paris.
The three goddesses appeared before Paris, and each offered something in exchange for the shallow trinket. Hera offered power, Athena offered wisdom, and Aphrodite appealed to his testosterone, promising to hook him up with what the legends basically refer to as the hottest woman in the ancient world. Thus, Paris of Troy fell madly in love with Helen. What’s more is that before she was ‘Helen of Troy’, she was the Queen of the Greek city-state Sparta. Upon meeting Helen (of Sparta), Paris decided it might be a good idea to seduce/kidnap the wife of Menelaus, who just so happened to be the King of Sparta…
Yep, that Sparta.
When it comes to The Spartans, any reasons a good reason for war, and I think that abducting the Queen of Sparta would rank fairly high on the list of things you just don’t do, right next to poking a bear repeatedly. In other-words, the Prince of Troy stole the King of Sparta’s woman, thereby dropping a deuce on the Spartan flag.
The Spartans, not being the type to tolerate… anything, were not about to take this lying down. So of course they organized the aforementioned siege on Troy and waged-war against them for the next *ten years* in what would come to be known as a little misunderstanding called the Trojan War.
You see, the Achaean King, Agamemnon, was looking to conquer the fabled city across the sea, and just needed a scapegoat to unite the Greeks in his cause. Enter the whole Paris / Helen affair, not only giving Agamemnon the perfect excuse to start a war, but instantly gained him the loyalty of the unstoppable Spartans on his side. Next thing the Trojans knew, the united forces of Greece sailed an armada towards Troy, the likes of which the world had never before seen, and Paris was scolded by his dad for thinking with his…
However, despite being hopelessly outnumbered, things were going pretty well for the Trojans towards the end of the war. The Greek military assault against them had proven utterly futile, for years on end. It looked as if the Greeks were going to have no choice, but to throw in the towel any minute. This one was in the bag. To add to the glory, the Trojan Prince, Paris, had none other than the ungodly smoking hot Helen of Troy for arm candy.
The series of battles that followed pitted the Greek military commander Odysseus against the defending Trojan army led by Hector. Odysseus had great initial success. His forces devastated the Trojan resistance upon landing on the beachfront property of Troy, and continued kicking butt all the way to the gates of the city itself.
Hector of Troy decided to go for broke and issued a direct challenge to the Greek’s greatest warrior, the legendary Achilles, to duel with him mono y mono. Whereas Achilles was Greece’s MVP, Hector on the other hand gave meaning to the word hardcore, in Trojan terms, and yes, in that way too. At this point in the war, Achilles had withdrawn from combat due to some pressing family matters coupled with the fact that he was getting laid left and right back home. Achilles shot Hector the bird and went back to hanging out with a dozen gorgeous Greek ladies. Achilles’ beloved friend and relative, Patroklos, decided to don the great warrior’s armor and fight in his stead. Hector then promptly slaughtered him only to realize that he had been duped into killing the wrong guy. FAIL
This of course incurred the wrath of the nearly invincible Achilles. When Achilles got wind of this, he immediately grabbed his sword and sandals before making a bee line for Hector, slaying him, effortlessly. He then proceeded to tie Hector’s corpse to the back of his chariot and dragged it a couple of laps around the battlefield just for good measure. Achilles would continue to assist Odysseus in his campaign to capture Troy for a few more years.
By the close of the war, after murdering half of the Trojan army single-handedly without mercy, Achilles managed to piss off most of the Pantheon. Eventually Zeus decided that Achilles had a bad habit of slaughtering his enemies’ children, which was something that the gods tended to frown upon. It was time for Achilles to die.
During the course of battle, Paris himself fired the infamous Apollo-guided heel-seeking arrow which took him out of the game. Apparently, having your Achilles tendon sliced is about a 9 on a scale of 10. As you can imagine, he was instantly incapacitated and shortly thereafter decapitated. This was the turning point from which the Greeks could no longer overpower the Trojans. The war quickly deteriorated from a valiant crusade to a poorly organized group of little leaguers taking on professional athletes. The goddess of discord just sat back with a bowl of popcorn and enjoyed the show.
In a last ditch effort to conquer Troy, the Achaeans decided to give Plan Omega a shot: The Greeks up and left.
The Trojans cheered and rejoiced as their enemy retreated to the sea. The only thing left behind was a peace offering in the form of a massive wooden horse sculpture. (Not at all a trap)
To the Trojans it was a symbol of victory in the form of an over-sized Pinata. So of course, they let down their guard, opened their gates, and hauled in the suspiciously heavy horse as they got drunk in their triumph. That night, a squadron of sneaky Greek ninja/soldiers promptly rappelled out of the massive arts-and-crafts project, and began stabbing left and right. The Trojans had been punked! The Greeks re-opened the impenetrable gates of Troy yet again, and called in their cavalry to finish the job.
By morning Troy had burned to the ground.
Thus ended the Trojan War.
Maybe they should’ve taken a better look at that gift-horse? I guess the moral here is a bit obvious, don’t take candy from strangers, or something like that?
Some say Helen of Troy hid out in Egypt for the remainder of her days. According to Virgil’s spin-off, “The Aeneid”, the surviving Trojans that retreated their fallen city, fled to what is now modern-day Italy, and eventually founded the city of Rome.
As for Troy itself, not much is left, but the legend… and a pile of rocks.
(Special Thanks to David Kowalski)
Click for a Complete List of Essays on Historical Failure!!
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“The Hinge Factor: How Chance and Stupidity Have Changed History” by Erik Durschmied
“The Illiad” and “The Odyssey” by: Homer
“The Aeneid” by Virgil
“The Fall of Troy” by Smyrnaeus Quintus
“TROY” (2007) – Directed by: Wolfgang Peterson. Starring: Brad Pitt and Eric Bana.
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