Feature by: Jack Foley
WARNING: This article contains plot spoilers! Do not read
until you have seen the film!
WHILE Troy is inspired by The Iliad, it also includes other elements
not found in Homers work.
The Trojan horse, for example, is not a part of The Iliad, and
only Virgil wrote quite extensively about the sacking of Troy
in The Aeneid.
Explains director, Wolfgang Petersen: "Our film is a collection
of motifs and story elements, drawing mainly from The Iliad. One
respect in which we diverged from Homers telling is that
our story does not include the presence of the gods.
"The gods in The Iliad are directly involved in the story
- they fight, they help out, they manipulate. Not in our story.
The religion is there, the belief is there, but the gods are only
mentioned - they are not made a part of it.
"It wouldnt have been in line with the level of realism
that we wanted to achieve in the film."
As a result, many of the fates of certain characters have been
changed, presumably for dramatic effect, while the timeline of
certain events is not adhered to. Achilles, for instance, was
not part of the Trojan Horse, having long since been slain by
Likewise, Menelaus was not killed by Hector, in a bid to protect
the cowardly Paris, and later reclaimed Helen for himself.
But, according to the production notes issued with Troy, the
actual existence of Paris and Helen, or any of the other characters
that populate Homer's poems, may never be known.
Some archaeological evidence for the supposed palaces of Kings
Agamemnon and Nestor exists and there are other kings, including
Odysseus and Priam, whom some scholars accept as historical.
Ancient vases and carvings tell the story of the war, but whether
they are retelling myth or history remains unknown.
The Trojan War was thought for a time to be completely a creation
of the ancient poet Homer. With no supporting written evidence
of the civilisation he described, archaeology - a relatively recent
science with origins in Egyptology - became the key to unlocking
the truth of this ancient past.
The ruins of what is now widely believed to be the real city
of Troy were not unearthed until 1871.
Those who had pursued it, over the centuries, had generally agreed
the great walled city overlooked the Aegean Sea from a part of
modern-day Turkey, still called the Troad, preserving the ancient
name of Troy.
But no surface evidence of its specific location seemed to exist.
Credit for the discovery of Troy went to German entrepreneur and
novice archaeologist, Heinrich Schliemann.
Largely uncredited was British archaeologist, Frank Calvert,
who suggested that Schliemann should dig at a place called Hisarlik
- the site now recognised as ancient Troy.
The remains of seven cities were found on the site, each on top
of the other, showing that Troy had been rebuilt many times.
The city that Schliemann initially proclaimed to be Homer's Troy
was on the second level.
Later, research proved this could not be the case, and now most
scholars believe that the sixth city provides the most likely
background for the story of the Trojan War.
Traditional dates for the fall of Troy range from about 1250
to 1183 BC, fitting well with the dates of destructions of these
cities. Excavations were resumed as recently as 1988, with the
belief there was much yet to be discovered.
There is still a debate over whether a single war caused Troy's
collapse: some evidence indicates an earthquake, rather than armed
assault, as a force of destruction.
Many historians believe there could have been a series of wars
between Greeks and Trojans, with perhaps one grand finale. In
any scenario, the resulting disappearance of one of the Aegean's
great city-states is beyond dispute.
Though Schliemann may have solved one of the great puzzles of
history, he couldn't validate the accuracy of Homer's account
of the events.
In fact, his findings diminished the hopes of those who believed
that proving the existence of Troy would give greater credence
to Homer's reportage of its downfall.
The epic poems attributed to Homer, The Iliad and The Odyssey,
were apparently composed some 400 years after the fall of Troy.
They were part of an oral tradition, in which stories were recited
and listened to, as opposed to written down and read.
Like other bards, Homer used mythical tales handed down over
generations and told them anew, re-shaping them for a contemporary
audience, adding new details and leaving others out.
Very little is known about Homer, and there have even been arguments
about whether a single poet created the poems.
Yet while the work of other bards has been lost, the poems of
Homer were recognised as vastly superior to the work of his imitators
and were preserved. They are the earliest master-works of Greek
literature, and many scholars believe they are the work of one
The most likely cause for the war, or series of wars, was control
over the Dardanelles, a narrow waterway leading to the Black Sea.
But the theft of one king's wife might have been as good an excuse
as any to start the bloody conflict that Homeric legend claims
lasted for 10 years.
The Iliad only describes events that took place over a period
of 50 days. However, if literature is to be believed and longevity
is the measure, they were the most memorable 50 days in mankind's