Background to The Odyssey • • The marriage of Peleus and Thetis, mother of Achilles. All of the Gods were invited… • • • Angry that she had not been invited, she threw a golden apple over the high walls of the reception hall. On this apple, she had engraved the words “To the Fairest.” Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite all reached for it… • • • They turned to Zeus to decide who among them was the most beautiful, but Zeus refused to name a winner. Instead, he appointed pretty boy Paris, a Trojan prince, as the judge. Enticing party favors were offered: • Hera bribed Paris with power over all nations. • Athena bribed Paris with victory in war. • Aphrodite bribed Paris with the love of the most beautiful woman in the world. Aphrodite! Hera and Athena vowed revenge against Paris and Troy. • • • • • • • Aphrodite’s Party Favor, Helen, was the daughter of Zeus and Leda, the queen of Sparta. Leda’s husband, Tyndareus was the king of Sparta. He never knew he wasn’t Helen’s real father. When Helen came of age, she had scores of suitors. Tyndareus was unwilling to choose one for fear the others would retaliate violently. Finally, one of the suitors, Odysseus of Ithaca, proposed a plan to solve the dilemma. He suggested that Tyndareus allow Helen to choose her own husband. In return, all of the suitors would promise to defend the marriage, regardless of whom she chose. The suitors duly swore. She chose Menelaus. Menelaus inherited Tyndareus' throne with Helen as his queen when her brothers Castor and Pollux became gods. • • • On a diplomatic mission to Sparta, Paris fell in love with Helen. Menelaus had to leave for Crete, to bury his uncle Crateus. Paris, with Aphrodite's help, kidnapped Helen and sailed to Troy. “Was this the face that launched a thousand ships And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?” -Christopher Marlowe Dr. Faustus • • • • Agamemnon, the King of Mycenae, was Menelaus’s brother. He agreed to lead the Greek forces in war against Troy. He called on Helen’s old boyfriends to defend her honor. He encountered some resistance… • • • He plowed a field, sowing salt. The gig was up when Palamedes threw Odysseus’s infant son, Telemachus, in front of the plow. Odysseus was then required to recruit Achilles. • • • Artemis, whom Agamemnon had offended by killing a stag, stilled his sails. Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter Iphigenia to make nice, causing marital discord with his wife Clytemnestra. First he sailed to the wrong place, but that’s another story for another time. . . Agamemnon King of Mycenae Commander-in-chief Menelaus King of Sparta Husband of Helen Achilles Patroclus Central Character Achilles’s friend Greatest Warrior And Cousin Odysseus King of Ithaca Most Cunning, Shrewd, and Brave Priam, King of Troy Married to Hecuba Hector, Trojan Prince Commander-in-chief Paris, Trojan Prince Forbidden Lover of Helen Greek Side Athena, Goddess of wisdom Hera, wife of Zeus Hermes, ambassador to the Gods Poseidon, God of the sea Trojan Side Aphrodite, Goddess of love Apollo, God of prophecy, light, poetry Ares, God of war Artemis, Goddess of the hunt Zeus, sympathetic to the Trojans • • • The first nine years of the war consisted of both war in Troy and war against the neighboring regions. The Greeks realized that Troy was being supplied by its neighboring kingdoms. As well as destroying Trojan economy, these battles let the Greeks gather a large amount of resources and other spoils of war, including women. by Homer • • • Homer’s epic begins in the tenth year of the Trojan War Agamemnon stole Achilles’ war prize, Briseis Achilles refused to fight and withdrew his warriors, the Myrmidons • • • • Achilles’s cousin and friend. He stole Achilles’s armor and wore it in battle where he fell to the mighty Hector. Achilles swore vengeance and re-entered the war. His mother, Thetis, presented him with new armor, crafted by Hephaestus. Achilles donned his new armor, and in a climactic scene of hand-to-hand combat, he killed Hector. After stripping the armor off, he tied Hector’s body to the back of his chariot and dragged it around the walls of Troy. This did not please the gods. • • • When Achilles was born, his mother, Thetis, tried to make him immortal by dipping him in the river Styx. As she immersed him, she held him by one heel and forgot to dip him a second time so the heel she held could get wet too. Therefore, the place where she held him remained untouched by the magic water of the Styx and that part stayed mortal or vulnerable. Apollo then caused an arrow, shot by Paris, to land in Achilles’s heel and kill him. Odysseus was given the armor forged by Hephaestus in remembrance of the mighty Achilles. The most formidable of all of the Greek captains was Odysseus, Son of Laertes and King of Ithaca. Wise beyond comparison, Odysseus was a master of disguise, of craftiness, of cunning, and of guile—no one could outwit this man skilled in all ways of contending. • • • • Still seeking to gain entrance into Troy, clever Odysseus, ordered a large wooden horse to be built. Its insides were to be hollow so that soldiers could hide within it. Built by the artist Epeius. Trojans celebrated what they thought was their victory, and dragged the wooden horse into Troy. After most of Troy was asleep or in a drunken state, Sinon let the Greek warriors out from the horse, and slaughtered the Trojans. • • Achilles’s son Neoptolemus killed Priam, whose daughter, the seër Cassandra, was raped at Athena’s altar and became Agamemnon’s concubine. The children of Priam and Hector are sacrificed at Achilles’ tomb. • • • • Aeneas, a Trojan prince, escaped (The Aeneid) with the help of Aphrodite. He became the founder of Rome. Odysseus convinced Philoctetes to kill Paris with a magic arrow. Trojan women were divided as plunder. Helen’s beauty spared her death. • • • The Greeks burnt Troy and sailed home, meeting various miserable fates themselves. Angered about Iphigenia’s death, Clytemnestra cozied up to Aegisthus, who killed Agamemnon upon his return. Orestes murdered his mother and her lover to avenge his father’s death. It took Odysseus another ten years to make it home to his family. . . . • • • Legendary city built under Zeus’s protection. Huge protective wall built with the divine aid of Poseidon. Trojans refused to pay tribute to Poseidon, who withdrew his protection. Dardanelles Modern-day Turkey • • • • Heinrich Schliemann (19th cent.) uncovered nine successive cities on the same site in modern-day Turkey. Schliemann declared the second level Priam’s Troy (aka Ilium), a burnt city. Greeks may have wanted control of the Hellespont Strait (Dardanelles) for access to the Black Sea. The archaeological dig is still active but inconclusive.