TROY AND THE TROJAN HORSE
A TALE OF MEN OR
The release in May of the mega-movie “Troy” has triggered an avalanche of popular articles, learned studies, TV documentaries and other media hype about the ancient tale of a splendid city at the edge of Asia Minor whose prince abducted a beautiful demi-goddess who happened to be married to the king of Greek Sparta, causing the Greeks to send an army in a thousand ships to attack and lay siege to Troy; a tale of a long war that was ended only by the treacherous trick of the Trojan Horse.
The articles and documentaries dealt less with the movie as such than with the lingering questions: Was there indeed a city name Troy? Was there a Trojan War?
The subject and the questions happen to have relevance to my writings, especially so because my latest book, THE EARTH CHRONICLES EXPEDITIONS: Journeys to the Mythical Past, begins with a chapter titled “The Trojan Horse.” It describes a visit, as part of the “Earth Chronicles Expeditions,” to the excavated site at Hissarlik in Turkey whose ruins are deemed to be those of ancient Troy.
Homer’s Iliad: History, or Myth?
The tale of the Trojan War is known mostly (but not only) from the Iliad by the Greek poet Homer, who lived some seven centuries after the event. That time lapse has been one of the reasons for doubting the veracity of his tale. Although many aspects of the tale and its heroes were found depicted in ancient Greek art, and although Alexander the Great made it a point to visit and worship at Troy’s remains as he crossed over from Europe to Asia, the fact that Troy’s ruins were buried away by the sands of time made its very existence questionable.
But as I point out in my latest book, the notion that Homer’s tale was basically fiction or myth had to do less with the inability to find Troy’s remains than with details of the tale in the Iliad; because according to it, the Trojan War was actually instigated not by men but by the gods; and gods and goddesses actually participated in the warfare and intervened on this or that side at crucial moments. But since respectful scholars consider Greek tales of the gods to be pure mythology, the tale of Troy that asserts them had to be classified as a myth as well…
Schliemann’s Discoveries and Modern Archaeology
When Heinrich Schliemann’s excavations at Hissarlik, beginning in the 1870’s, identified the site as Troy, the fact that he was a businessman and not an established academic archaeologist was reason enough to doubt his findings… More than a century of continued excavations and evaluations verified the site as that of Troy; yet one can still find an article or a TV program asking: Was there a Troy? Was there a Trojan War?
A series of articles in the current (May/June 2004) issue of the authoritative journal Archaeology gives “yes” answers to both questions. “There is nothing in the archaeological record to contradict the assertion that Troy and the surrounding countryside formed the setting for Homer’s Iliad,” the journal concludes in one study. Another cites evidence from the deciphered written records of the Hittite empire, contemporary with the time of the Trojan War, of the city’s existence and the war. Other articles review the numerous ancient depictions, as this one from Greece’s classical period, that also attest to ancient familiarity with aspects of the Trojan War and the Trojan Horse episode.
Troy’s Tale: The Reality of the gods
As told in my new book, I chose to begin a tour of ancient civilization sites in Turkey with a visit to Troy because I presented to my group the following line of logic: If Homer was right that there was a Troy, a king Menelaus and a King Priam and the hero Achilles etc. etc., and a Trojan War – why not accept that he was also right in telling how the gods instigated that war and took part in it? In other words, if Troy and its War were fact not myth, why not deem the references in the Iliad to the existence in antiquity of omnipotent gods also as fact not myth?
It was only thus, I explained, that all the texts and depictions from antiquity showing men and gods can be explained and understood. The visit to Troy and its tale was affirmation of the actual presence of those whom the Sumerians called Anunnaki: “Those who from Heaven to Earth came.”
The visit to Troy, described in the first chapter of my new book, was thus my Trojan Horse for that logical conclusion.