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C O U R S E 
Greeks at War: Homer at Troy
Robert Garland, Colgate University
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
Background of the Trojan War
Notes taken on May 9, 2015 by Edward Tanguay
the Greeks have left us extraordinary testimony about war
they were as bellicose as any people who ever lived
they were also highly literate
and some of their greatest writers wrote about war
Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)
greatest poet of WWI
Anti-war poem which ends with the words, "It is fine and honorable to die for your country"
a quotation from the Roman poet Horace
Owen calls this phrase, "The old lie"
Homer isn't an anti-war poet, but like Owen, he emphasizes the horror of war and the terrible sacrifices that young men make
war is both universal and particular
the Vietnam War was not the same as the Iraq War or as the Korean War or as WWII
suffering is pretty much of the same intensity
horrors are committed
there are heroes and cowards
innocent people become victims
the mode of fighting
the arms
the resources
the treatment of prisoners
the ideology of driving people to fight
what is unique about the Trojan war
fought between
Mycenean Greeks
Homer calls them Achaeans or Argives
all the leaders of the states that participate are described as kings
but a state at that time was primarily a "fortress surrounded by land"
loose collection of states under Lordship of Agamemnon
has his fortress in the Peloponnese
the most powerful of the fortresses
"Mycenae rich in gold" says Homer, and indeed much gold has been found there
inhabit Troy
also know to Homer as Ilium
a war between a multi-state invading force and a single walled city which exercised some control around the surrounding region
we don't actually know that it happened
not as important as the fact that we have Homer as a witness
if it took place then
Bronze Age
bronze used for all purposes from cooking pots to swords
however Homer mentions that both iron and bronze are being used
iron replaced bronze because it was much harder
3000 BCE: bronze had been invented in Mesopotamia
1250 BCE most probably when the Trojan War took place
cause of war
mythological reason
theft of Helen, the wife of Menelaus, brother of Agamemnon by the Trojan prince Paris
insult to Greek, to the people of Mycenae
Paris had violated the law of hospitality
he had been a guest at the palace of Menelaus
Menelaus put pressure on his brother Agamemnon to organize an expedition to recover his wife
the most beautiful woman in the world
whose face launched a thousand ships
we have tablets which indicate the Mycenaean raiding parties conducted raiding parties along the Turkish coast
one of the women who was abducted was high born, like Helen
we know that a small incident lead to a full-scale war
e.g. the First World War began as a result of the assassination of the arch duke Francis Ferdinand, heir presumptive of the Austro-Hungarian throne
shot by Gavrilo Princip
structural reasons
Troy lies where the Aegean and the Black Sea meet
commercial and strategically important location
perhaps due to Greece's insatiable appetite for
imported corn from the Black Sea region
tin and copper, the raw ingredients to make Bronze
which Troy was blocked their access of
perhaps Troy was imposing heavy tariff on Greek ships
around Troy was a rich, agricultural plain
Homer doesn't mention any reason of the war other than to recover Helen
deals with the battle front
deals with absense and home coming