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The Legend of the Trojan Horse: Fact vs. Fiction

August 23, 20223 min read

The legend as we know it…

The story of the Trojan War was really an epic poem called the Iliad. An ancient Greek named Homer wrote it. You might have heard about a prince named Paris who fell in love with a queen named Helen. But Helen was already married to the king of Sparta. (That was a part of Greece.)Helen and Paris ran away to his home in Troy. There she met Paris’ brother Hector and his father, King Priam. Everyone loved Helen and she became known as Helen of Troy.

When Helen’s husband found out, he got very mad. He declared war on Troy and got his brother, the king of Mycenae, to help him. Mycenae was another kingdom in Greece. Other Greek armies joined them and they sailed away in a hundred ships to Troy.

A great warrior named Achilles went along to help the two kings fight the Trojans. Achilles was a half-human son of a sea nymph. When he was a baby, his mother dipped him in the river Styx to protect him from harm. That’s how he got to be a great warrior. But, she didn’t want to lose him in the water so she held on very tight to his ankles. Since the water didn’t touch his ankles, they were not protected.

Hector was a prince of Troy and another great warrior. He led the Trojan army to fight outside the city. Hector fought against Achilles but lost.

Troy had very high walls with great big doors. Even though the Greeks could win outside the city, they could never win the city itself. They had to think of a way to get inside the walls.

One day, someone got the idea to build a giant wooden horse. They put the wooden horse in front of the great doors to the city. Then the armies moved their ships and hid from view.

The Trojans thought the giant horse was a gift. The ships were gone so they thought the armies had given up. They opened their giant doors and pulled the horse inside the city. That night the whole city celebrated and danced around the giant horse.

But a small army secretly waited inside the horse. When the people of Troy went to their homes for the night, the small army snuck out of the horse. They opened the giant gates from the inside. The bigger armies were waiting for them and came inside. That’s how they won the battle of Troy. During the battle, someone shot an arrow through Achilles’ unprotected ankle and killed him.

At least that’s the Hollywood version starring Brad Pitt. Things happen a little bit different in the original poem. But that’s not the point.

What really happened?

Homer was a real guy who wrote this amazing story. Homer lived during the 800s BC.

Archaeologists proved that the city of Troy also existed near the country of Turkey. There are many layers and parts to the ruins. Each layer or part shows a different time. The oldest part of the city was from about 3500 BC. That’s thousands of years before Homer was alive.

That’s the end of the facts. Homer’s story of the Trojan War is a complete myth. Homer might have seen the ruins of the long lost city. He might have heard stories about the city. Maybe those stories inspired him to think up his own poem about it. A poem has to be larger than life to be epic. So, he made it a good one!

But there is no evidence that any part of the story is true. There isn’t even evidence that any of the characters are true. King Priam, Paris, Hector, Helen and the Greek kings are all fiction. As for Achilles, the half-mortal warrior and son of a sea-nymph, whose ankles were his only weak spot… nope, not real.

Trojan HorseIlliadHomerLegend
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J.J. Caroll

Bookstore Curator

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