The Trojan War was the 10-year long conflict between the city of Troy and the armies of Greece, led by King Agememnon of Myceanae. The war has been talked about for ages and involved some of the most famous figures in Greek Mythology. The story of the war is told in The Iliad (named so as Troy was known to the Greeks as Ilion or Ilios).
Marriage of Peleus and ThetisThere once was a mortal hero named Peleus. One day, he met a nymph named Thetis, and he fell instantly in love. Thetis, who was at first digusted at the thought of marrying a simple mortal man, soon grew fond of him. When Peleus and Thetis came to be wed, Zeus and Hera chose the guests and they decided not to invite Eris, as she was the goddess of discord. In revenge, during the wedding party, she placed a golden apple in the room, marked "for the fairest" on it, which lead to a quarrel between the goddesses Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite. Zeus, not wanting them to get angry, sent Hermes to tell the first farmer he found to judge them.
The Judgement of Paris
Hermes eventually found Paris of Troy, a young shepherd, son of the Trojan king Priam. Zeus then sent Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite down to Paris, so he would judge which of the goddesses was "the fairest" and which of them would receive the golden apple. Each of the goddesses tried to persuade Paris to pick them by saying that if he picked one of them, they would reward him with a gift:
- Hera offered him the ownership of Asia and Europe if she was chosen.
- Athena offered to give him, his family, and Troy many battle skills that would allow them to overcome their enemies in war if she was picked.
- Aphrodite offered to give him the most beautiful woman alive if she was picked.
Paris thought that both Hera and Athena's gifts to him weren't great because at the time his family and Troy were not at war. However, Aphrodite's promise of the most beautiful woman in the world appeared to him as the best gift he could ask for.
Result of Judgement
Paris refused both Hera and Athena's gifts. He declared Aphrodite was the fairest and rewarded her with the apple. This however, made both Hera and Athena furious as they both disliked Aphrodite, thought that her gift was unfair, and that a mortal such as Paris was a poor choice for judging who the fairest was. Angrily, they transformed into their godly forms and ascended together to Olympus, which left Aphrodite back with Paris on the earth. Paris said that he would've picked them to prevent them from becoming angry. Aphrodite however, rejoiced in the fact that she was the "fairest" goddess and told him that he should rejoice as well. She intended to create a beautiful woman for him to marry, but instead she gave him Helen, who was already the most beautiful woman on earth.
The Seduction of Helen
- Main article: Helen of Troy
Paris and his brother, Hektor, went to Sparta on a diplomatic mission to speak with Menelaos, the king of Sparta, about some trade agreements. During Hektor's talk with Menelaos, Paris noticed Helen, a beautiful woman in Menelaos' court and chatted with her secretly behind Menelaos' back, as Helen was actually Menelaos' wife.
By the time Hektor and Paris were to leave Sparta, Paris somehow seduced Helen and got her on their ship (unbeknownst to Menelaos). It was thanks to Aphrodite that Helen fell in love with Paris, and the ship took them back to the city of Troy with Helen on board.
Paris' apparent kidnapping of Helen caused Menelaos to be deeply affected by the crime. Menelaos thus went to his brother, Agamemnon, king of Mycenae, to ask him for permission to take war to the grounds of Troy. Agamemnon agreed to his brother's pleas and led an expedition of Achaean troops to Troy and besieged the city for ten years.
The Trojan War
For ten years, the Trojan War raged on, as the Greeks were unable to penetrate Troy's mighty walls. The Greeks, early in the war, made an enemy of Apollo by killing a favored son as well as kidnapping Khryseis, the daughter of one of his priests. Apollo shot arrows of plague into the Greek camp until the she was returned to her father. Agamemnon, angry that he had to give up his slave took Briseis from Achilles as consolation for his loss. This angered the hero and for years afterward, he, along with the Myrmidons under his command, refused to fight in the war.
Patroklos, Achilles' companion, tired of having not fought after nine years, stole Achilles's armor and, disguised as the hero, lead the army into battle. Hektor, who believed Patroklos to be Achilles, confronted him in battle. Unaware that this was not Achilles, Hector easily killed him. When he went to take Achilles' armor as a war prize, the deception was discovered.
Upon his discovery of Patroklos' death, Achilles, mad and stricken with grief, vowed vengeance on Hector, despite the prophecy that if Achilles killed Hektor, it would insure his own death. Thetis, Achilles' mother, thus asked Hephaestus to make her son new armor since Hektor still had his as a prize.
When Achilles returned to the battle, he easily slaughtered every Trojan warrior he found, until the Trojan army started to retreat from the fury of Achilles. Apollo interfered once again, disguised himself as a Trojan and lead Achilles away, which gave the real Trojans time to get back into their city walls. When Apollo revealed himself, the only Trojan left out was Hektor, who stayed to face Achilles' wrath.
Achilles threw his spear at Hektor, who managed to dodge. Athena returned the spear to Achilles' hand. Hector turned the attack but his spear was blocked by Achilles' shield. Having realized he was going to die, Hector decided he would go down fighting. He drew his sword, and requested that the victor would return the other's body to their family for a respectful funeral. Achilles refused and attacked.
They fought but Hector wore Achilles' old armor and thus, Achilles knew of it weaknesses. He stabbed Hector in the neck, who, with his dying breath, once again asked if Achilles would return his body to his family. Achilles refused and Hector promised he would pay for it.
Achilles, still in anger over Patroklos' death, tied Hektor's corpse to his chariot and dragged it around the city of Troy. For twelve days, Achilles does this, much to the dismay of the gods. It was only by Apollo and Aphrodite's efforts that preserved Hector's body from harm. Finally, accompanied by Hermes, Priam, King of Troy, begged Achilles to return his son's body to him. Moved to tears, Achilles relented and Hektor's corpse was returned to Troy.
Later into the war, Paris gave to Aeneas the sword of Troy, saying, "take, if it stills on Trojan hands Troy will last". Paris then shot a poisoned arrow, guided by Apollo, at Achilles, striking him in the heel which killed him. Soon after, Paris was mortally wounded by one of Herakles' poisoned arrows, shot by Philoktetes. Either Helen or Paris himself went to Paris' first lover, a mountain nymph named Oenone, and begged her for a cure to the poison that was killing Paris. Oenone refused, still heartbroken that Paris had left her. When she heard the news of Paris' death, mad with grief, she threw herself onto his funeral pyre. Helen was then forced to marry another Trojan prince Deiphobos, until he too was murdered by Helen's first husband, Menelaos.
The End of the War; the Trojan Horse and the Sack of Troy
After the deaths of many heroes, including the Achaeans Achilles and Ajax, along with the Trojans Hektor and Paris, the Greeks came up with the ruse of the Trojan Horse, planned by Odysseus. The Greeks hid their best warriors inside the horse, while the remaining fleet sailed off, out of sight of the Trojans. Laocoön tried to warn the Trojans that it was a trap, but he and his sons were devoured by sea serpents. (various sources said that the sea serpents were sent by either Apollo, Athena, or Poseidon) When night fell, after the Trojan Horse entered the city, the Achaeans inside the horse came out and opened the city gates, letting the others inside. The Achaeans then burned Troy to the ground, slaughtering the Trojans (except for some of the women and children whom they kept or sold as slaves) and desecrated the temples, thus earning the gods' wrath for each one. The return of the Greeks after the destruction of Troy was known as the Returns from Troy:
- Nestor (who had had the best conduct in Troy and did not take part in the looting) was the only hero who had a fast and safe return.
- Ajax the Lesser (who had endured the gods' wrath more than the others) never returned. His ship was wrecked by a storm sent by Athena, who borrowed one of Zeus' thunderbolts and tore it to pieces. His crew managed to land on a rock, but Poseidon struck it, and Ajax fell in the sea and drowned. He was buried by Thetis in Mykonos or Delos.
- Teuker (son of Telamon and half-brother of Ajax) stood trial by his father for his half-brother's death. He was disowned and wasn't allowed to land. He was at sea near Phreattys in Peiraeus. He was acquitted of responsibility but found guilty of negligence because he did not return his dead body or his arms. He left with his army (who took their wives) and founded Salamis in Cyprus.
- Diomedes was first thrown by a storm on the coast of Lycia where he was to be sacrificed to Ares by King Lycus. But Callirrhoe (the king's daughter) took pity upon him and assisted him in escaping. Then he accidentally landed in Attica at Phalerum. The Athenians (unaware that they were allies) attacked them. Many were killed and the Palladium was taken by Demophon. He finally landed at Argos where his wife Aegialia was committing adultery. In disgust, Diomedes left for Aetolia. According to Roman traditions he had some adventures and founded a colony in Italy.
- Philoktetes (due to a sedition) was driven from his city and emigrated to Italy where he founded the cities of Petilia, Old Crimissa, and Chone, between Croton and Thurii.
- For Homer's depiction, Idomeneus reached his house safe and sound. Another tradition was formed later where after the war, Idomeneus' ship hit a horrible storm. He promised Poseidon that he would sacrifice the first living thing he saw when he returned home if the god would save his ship and crew. The first living thing was his son whom Idomeneus duly sacrificed. The gods became angry at his murder of his own son and they sent a plague to Crete. His people thus sent him into exile to Calabria in Italy, and then Colophon in Asia Minor where he died.
- Agamemnon actually reached his home of Mycenae safe and sound. When his wife, Klytaemenstra, found out about his affair with the Trojan princess Kassandra (whom Agamemnon had taken as a prize of war), she killed them. She, along with her lover, Aigiosthos, was then killed by her son Orestes, so as to avenge his father's murder.
- Odysseus went through many trials at sea before he could return home to Ithaca. The tale of his journey home came to be called the Odyssey, named after him.
The Trojan princess Kassandra, Hektor and Paris' sister, was raped by Ajax the Lesser, while taking refuge in Athena's temple; she was then taken by Agamemnon as a war prize, in consolation for his loss of Briseis. King Priam was killed by Achilles' son, Neoptolemos, on Zeus' altar, and Hektor and Andromekha's infant son Astyanax was thrown from the top of the city's walls. The few people that escaped tried to meet with Aeneas, the son of Aphrodite and Ankhises, far away from the beaches.
In the end, Troy was destroyed. Aeneas and the other survivors, eventually landed in Italy (Italia); their descendants came to be known as the Romans.
When Percy meets Aphrodite for the first time in a white limo driven (or borrowed) by Ares, he is so surprised by her beauty that he is mouth-struck and can't speak. She politely asks him to hold up a mirror which he does for over a long time while he speaks with her. Aphrodite tells him that she is interested in him because she sees that he and Annabeth are likely to love each other eventually. Percy asks why and she tells him that the she has not seen a tragic love story for eons since the love of Helen of Troy and Paris which started the Trojan War.