There are a few possible causes to why the Trojan War started. We chose this topic as there have been many debates throughout the years on whether the 10-year war was instigated by the mere kidnapping of a single woman. In this post we would be looking at the 2 major causes that have been debated about for many years. Firstly, we will explore the cause of the Trojan War from Homer’s perspective and then, from a historian’s standpoint. Homer’s Iliad was written some point in the 8th century BCE, though they think the actual war happened around the 13th century BCE. The story recounts the last 53 days of the final year of the 10 year Trojan War. Secondly, we will explore the archaeological evidence that backs up the standpoint that the War was due to the greed for more power and land.
Homer’s Iliad mentions that the war was caused when Helen was stolen from King Menelaus of Sparta by Paris of Troy. Helen, in Greek legend, was considered the most beautiful woman of Greece and the indirect cause of the Trojan War. She was daughter of Zeus and Leda. For a while, Helen and Menelaus lived happily together. They had a daughter and son, and Menelaus eventually became the king of Sparta. But their happy life came to an end suddenly. This was caused by a competition between 3 Greek Goddesses, Hera, Athena and Aphrodite where they were all fighting over a golden apple. The one who was named the “fairest goddess” would eventually win the golden apple. The judge who was supposed to pick the fairest goddess was Paris. In order to win this prize, Hera, Queen of Olympus, promised Paris that she would help him rule the world. Athena, goddess of war, told him that she would make him victorious in battle. Aphrodite promised to offer Paris, the most beautiful woman in the world if he proclaimed her as the "fairest" goddess. Paris promptly awarded the golden apple to Aphrodite, who in turn instructed him to travel to Sparta to take Helen back to Troy. At this point, Menelaus was away in Crete.
When Menelaus finally returned home and discovered that Helen was missing, he asked the leaders of Greece for their support and help. The Greeks organized a great expedition of a thousand ships to set sail for Troy. This concluded the start of the Trojan War. Odysseus, inspired by Athena, thought of an idea to get a number of soldiers inside the walls of Troy. Thus, the people of Troy were tricked into letting a gigantic Horse made of wood called the Trojan Horse into their city, believing that it was a mere gift from their enemies and that the Greeks had given up and sailed away. However, when night had fallen, the Greeks emerged from it and proceeded to slaughter and enslave the people of Troy. Helen was then, taken back by to Greece.
Now we will be exploring the causation of the Trojan War from a historian’s perspective. As mentioned above, there have been several debates on whether the Trojan War would have been fought just because of love for a woman? As mentioned above, many people seem to think that it might have. But just as someone could actually argue that World War I would have taken place anyway, perhaps triggered by some other event, we are going to argue that the Trojan War would inevitably have taken place, with or without the kidnapping of Helen. I believe that the causation for the Trojan War was due to the yearning to take over the site because of its desirable geographical location. This point is based on the archeological evidence that has been found.
The Hittites were a powerful civilization which occupied the region of Anatolia, Turkey (1260 BC) and was expanding to the west. Thus, they would have come into conflict with the Mycenaeans eventually. Their language, written in cuneiform script on clay tablets. Many of these were discovered and recorded during the 21st century. A number of these clay tablets from the Hittite capital at Hattusa have been found to form a link between the Hittite Kingdom and Bronze Age Troy. One of the clay tablets elaborates on the political alliance between the Hittites and Paris, the son of the King Priam as mentioned in the Iliad. Many of the other tablets have been found to prove that there were existing disagreements between the Hittites and Mycenaean Greeks. It claimed that the west coast of Turkey was alternately possessed by both parties. Along with some other archeological evidence that proved that the Greeks had possession of some of the Turkish west coast cities during the 13th to 15th BC, it is quite believable that Troy was somehow caught up between the east and west during the bronze ages. From what we now can understand from the Hittite sources, the Arzawa land, Wilusa, identified with the archaeological site of Troy, was a point of conflict between the Hittites and the Achaeans.
In conclusion, I believe that the most possible cause of the Trojan War was the conflict between the Hittites and Mycenaeans. The fictional standpoint written in Homer’s Iliad, is based on a myth rather than reality and I believe that the story frames the kidnapping of Helen as the cause of the Trojan War, as a mere excuse to launch a pre-ordained war for control of land, trade, profit, and access to the Black Sea.