The Legend of The City of Troy

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The Legend of The City of Troy

Marat Potapov, Reporter

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The Legend of Troy is such a well known story that even after happening  over 10,000 years ago, it has persevered. If you ask most people on the street what Troy was, they will most likely mention the Trojan Horse or the legendary Achilles. However, did you know that the Legendary City actually existed?

The Legend
The events of Troy are said to take place in between 1200 B.C and 1300 B.C. It was a war that lasted 10 long years and was the story of a forbidden love. According to Homer’s Legend of Troy, the princes of Troy, Paris and Hector, came to Sparta to discuss peace. However, the younger prince Paris got eloped with the Queen of Sparta, Helen, said to be one of history’s most beautiful women (to fight a war over). Paris, to be blunt, stole the Queen from Sparta and took her back to Troy with him. King Menelaus, her husband was furious. Paris should’ve really thought about what he was doing before he stole Helen, because Menelaus was the brother of the King of Greece Agamemnon.
Helen and Paris went to Troy. Meanwhile, Menelaus went to his brother who had been waiting for a reason to attack Troy for years and asked his brother to defend his honor, and go to war with Troy. King Agamemnon seeing his chance, gathered the biggest army Greece has ever seen and sailed to Troy. However, it was not to protect his brother’s honor, but to get Troy’s position on the Mediterranean. He would have the central port city, and he would be able to control trade. Everyone had their own agenda just like the hit series Game of Thrones. It was just like that but it actually happened.
Even Achilles, one of the most famous Greek heroes had his own agenda, and his own story. He was not going to Troy, he was going to secure his name in history, making him immortal. Surely at one point, or another, someone says it’s his “Achilles heel,” an expression that did in a way make his name immortal. Achilles did not want to go to Troy, he disliked Agamemnon and would not fight his battles for him. However, two people managed to change his mind. First, it was his friend Odysseus, the King of Ithaca (Greece was separated into city-states during this time there was one central king and smaller “kings” that controlled the states). Then, there was his mother, a “goddess” as described by Homer, who had visions. When Achilles was a child, she dipped his whole body into the mystical river Styx, making him pretty much invincible except for his heel.
To sum it up, Agamemnon gathered the largest Greek army ever and sailed to Troy. The War was said to have been 10 years long with neither side gaining any ground. The only large or significant events that changed the tide of the war were the ones between Achilles and one of the trojan princes, Hector, who was their best warrior and hero. At a point in the the war Achilles decided it was time to leave, because he disliked Agamemnon, and he had betrayed Achilles’s honor. When one of Achilles’s friends, Patroclus died while impersonating Achilles on the front lines and leading his men, Achilles challenged the killer Hector to a duel outside the gates of the city of Troy. Achilles won that encounter.
It would be foolish to try and write the whole of the story of Troy, but the key events and the most famous parts of other than those already discussed would be the death of the mighty Achilles and the Trojan Horse. This story has many different variations, and it was a 10 year war. It was believed that The Legend of Troy was just that, a Legend. Everyone thought it was a story, and still after finding the lost city, historians are unsure if the Trojan War of Legend actually occurred. Achilles died from being shot by Hector’s brother Paris(the one who started the war) in the heel, which is where the saying of “that your Achilles heel” comes from, the one weak spot so to speak. The Trojan Horse was one of the most ingenious tactics in History.
The Greeks after 10 years of fighting had run out of ideas. So Odysseus the King of Ithaca came up with a plan. They would hide all their ships on the northern coast out of site so the Trojans thought they had left. Then leave a giant wooden horse (as if a prayer to Poseidon) for the Trojans to find. When they found it, they believed that the horse really was an offering to Poseidon, and out of the fear of the Gods, they decided not to burn it, but to take it to the temple of Poseidon within the city. Little did they know that inside there were men who, once everyone was asleep, got out of the horse opened the gates and allowed for their allies to sack the city. This is how the ten year war ended. Why is this important? Why should we care? The answers can be as simple as it’s just interesting, to as complicated, as too the fact that we can use history and stories told to learn from the mistakes of others, and make our world a better place.

The Real Site of the City of Troy
The name Troy refers both to a place in legend, and a real-life archaeological site. As we discussed in legend, Troy is a city that was besieged for 10 years. It was eventually conquered by a Greek army led by King Agamemnon. Troy also refers to a real ancient city located on the northwest coast of Turkey which, since antiquity, has been identified by many historians as being the Troy discussed in the legend. Whether the Trojan War actually took place, however, is still an open debate. This is mainly due to the fact that there are only a small number of primary sources that tell of its existence.
The site itself however isn’t the original Troy. According to studies, there is actually not one Troy, but actually at least 10 other cities built atop the original, creating a human-made mound called a “tell.” Van Wijngaarden a researcher from the University of Amsterdam notes that archaeologists have to dig deep to find remains of the first settlement, and from what they can tell, it was a, “small city surrounded by a defensive wall of unworked stone.” So it’s definitely Troy. The story of how it was found is also very interesting. When the site was first excavated by Heinrich Schliemann a passionate German archaeologist who found the city, everyone though he was crazy for using so much money, and putting in so much work into this project of him. Everyone treated Troy as just a story. Despite this, however, he was able to prove to the world that Troy was real. In his opinion,  he had no doubts that the Trojan War, and the famous Trojan Horse, at one point in time had occurred on that very site. This was a very significant event in the historical and archeological community. It was the first time when a Greek myth / legend was proven to be true. Who is to say that lost cities from myths and legend like Camelot or Atlantis aren’t somewhere out there waiting to be discovered. Many historian don’t realize the significance of this, the knowledge that could be gained from finding such ancient sites could be enormous. The stories those places could tell, the things they could teach us, just like the City of Troy, could help better our world and the world of the future.

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