The Trojan War is easily one of the most critical events in Greek Mythology as perhaps best emphasized in Homer’s Odyssey and Iliad. While there are variations in the accounts as to the causes of the War, the War that was waged by Achaeans against Troy, follows the loss of the King of Sparta’s wife to Paris. This does however remain largely debatable as regards its historical veracity, with beliefs that Homeric literature did exaggerate different things in line with varied poetic needs. This paper assesses the varied accounts of the primary and secondary factors that caused or contributed to the War by referring to the Classical Mythical accounts. It seeks to find a consensus among the different accounts by reconciling variations in every account to one another or explaining the possible cause of the variations.
After Zeus had vanquished his own father, Cronus, he ascended the throne as the King of gods in line with earlier prophesies by Caucasus. The king, who had married his own sister Hera, the Goddess of childbirth and marriage, was however unfaithful, instead maintaining multiple relationships from which bore him children. He believed in the urgent need to procreate in the event of Themis depopulating the world during the Trojan War. A marriage between Thetis and Peleus, which had been arranged either by Zeus’ order or in a bid by Thetis to please Hera, played a considerable role in sowing the seeds for the Trojan War. It turned out that Thetis and Peleus did not invite the goddess of discord, Eris to their nuptials. This greatly outraged Eris, who stormed the wedding but was stopped at the door on Zeus’ orders. Out of rage, Eris cast her gift, a golden apple, meant for the fairest of them all. Aphrodite, Athena and Hera claimed the golden apple on account of their respective beauty, effectively leading to a break out of a bitter quarrel amongst them. To settle the quarrel, Zeus asked Hermes to lead the three gods to the man that the he believed was the most handsome on earth, Paris, the Prince of Troy.
Having showered, the gods appeared before him naked with the promises of power, wealth and a beautiful woman in the world from Hera, Athena and Aphrodite respectively. In return for Aphrodite’s promise to make Menelaus wife, Helen fall in love with him, Paris settled on her. Paris did set off to Sparta to capture the most beautiful woman in the world as had been promised to him by Aphrodite against the counsel of both Helenus and Cassandra, who tried to dissuade him from going to Sparta. In Sparta, the Maleness welcomed Paris as a royal guest. Under the disguise of a diplomatic mission to Sparta, and on his entry to Menelaus’ palace, Eros shot Helen with cupid’s arrow so that she fell in love with Paris. During his stay, Menelaus left to bury his uncle Crateus in Crete. As soon as he left to attend a funeral, Paris eloped with his wife. He also left with a considerable amount of Menelaus’ possessions. While on the run, Hera brought a storm that stranded the lovers in Egypt, during which time Helen was replaced by a cloud likeness of her. The assertions of Helen being switched in Egypt is not born out in all the narratives, with Homer’s account arguing that the actual Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world arrived in Troy along with Paris. Such tales are however deeply embedded in multiple Greek mythologies in which gods switched themselves with their likeness for varied reasons, which is why it may have turned up in several subsequent mythological tales.
Outraged by Paris’ deception, the Menelaus summed all of Helen’s previous suitors to hold them on their promise to defend her love for her chosen suitor. These suitors were wary to go to battle, so much so that Odysseus feigned illness before he was found out by Palamedes. In spite of these, Homer states that Odysseus was in favor a military action and went helped in the recruitment of men, including in asking Achilles. Menelaus also sought the support of Achilles in line with the initial prophesy that it was impossible to defeat Troy without Achilles’ involvement.
The fleets would later assemble under Agamemnon, but owing to his difficulties with the sacred stags of Diana or possibly because of careless boasting, which is why she is raised a storm in the ocean to stop the ships from sailing. It proved difficult to find Troy in these circumstances, worsened by the varying beliefs about who exactly had taken Helen that included a siege Teuthranians because of the suspicions that he had taken. The troops returned home, but after repeated diplomatic overtures that failed to ensure the return of Helen and the stolen treasure, The War of Trojan broke out.
Homer and Stanley Lombardo. The Essential Odyssey. New York: Hackett Publishing Co, Inc, 2000.
Proclus. ” Chrestomathy 4, Ilio Persis, says Odysseus killed Astyanax, while Pausanias, 10. 25. 9, says Neoptolemus.” (n. d.).
Trzaskoma, Stephen, R. Scott Smith and Stephen Brunet. An Anthology of Classical Myth: Primary Sources in Translation . New York: Hackett Publishing Co, Inc, 2004.