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Mythbusters: The Battle of Troy

Hey folks, how many of you have watched or at least heard of this Hollywood blockbuster; Troy? This epic tale was made into a visual spectacle in 2004, featuring the likes of Brad Pitt, Eric Bana and Diane Kruger. Loosely based on Homer's Lliad, it tells the story of war, love and honour.

For starters, Troy was actually thought of as a mythology and that is never existed. During the war, Troy was seen as a formidable opponent to the Greeks due to the tall, extensive walls that had never been breached. Well, it withstood a ten-year siege and still remained strong. Damn, iPhone cracked on the second day after one drop and this wall stood for 10 years. However, what led to its downfall was the clever usage of the Trojan horse which was employed as a trick. If you can't bring down the wall, try going around it! King Priam of Troy saw the horse as a gift from the Apollo, God of music, poetry, art, oracles, archery, plague, medicine, sun, light and knowledge, after they thought they chased the Greeks back to their homeland. The Greeks are running short on deities, poor Apollo definitely has way too much on his plate! King Priam must be a really religious man or piss drunk to accept that GIANT WOODEN HORSE without a whiff of suspicion.

Formidable flirt: Helen of Troy, played here by Diane Kruger, knew how to use her feminine wiles to her advantage


That’s right boys! She, Helen of Troy, started it, or at least that's according to the movie. She was known to be the most beautiful woman in the world. She was married to Menelaus, King of Mycenae and brother of Agamemnon. However, Helen fell in love with Paris, Prince of Troy and he went to Sparta to take Helen away from Menelaus. It was like a classic romantic comedy, albeit with a violent twist. Stealing someone else’s wife angered Menelaus. He wanted Helen back badly and went to his brother Agamemnon for help. Thus, the Trojan war began

However, that's just what the movie wanted you to think. The start of the Trojan War may be attributed to several other factors as well.

According to Mark Cartwright,

The Trojan War, in Greek tradition, started as a way for Zeus to reduce the ever-increasing population of humanity and, more practically, as an expedition to reclaim Helen, wife of Menelaos, King of Sparta and brother of Agamemnon. Helen was abducted by the Trojan prince Paris (also known as Alexandros) and taken as his prize for choosing Aphrodite as the most beautiful goddess in a competition with Athena and Hera at the wedding of Peleus and Thetis. Menelaos and the Greeks wanted her back and to avenge Trojan impudence.





In short, Zeus screwed up. Zeus always screws up. He actually decided to let a human. Paris, to decide a contest between goddesses. He created this whole war just because he became unhappy with the decision of the contest. On a side note, thanks to Zeus' infidelity, we have all these "great" tales. I just think it's quite hilarious, to be blatantly honest, namely the interaction between divine beings and humans, and the behavior of Zeus himself.

By the way, the oh-so-invincible Achilles was downed by a single arrow through his heel. Not so mighty after all aye? Note the divine intervention in the painting below. Them Greeks really shared a special relationship with their gods!

After a long battle of 10 years, the end of the war came with one final plan. The Greeks (or, in some versions of the tale, Odysseus on their behalf) devised a new ruse — a giant hollow wooden horse, an animal that was sacred to the Trojans. It was built by Epeius and filled with Greek archers led by Odysseus. The rest of the Greek army appeared to retreat and the Trojans accepted the horse as a peace offering. Hey, I just won the war and a giant wooden horse that appeared from nowhere must be a gift from the heavens. It must be the alcohol, nah scratch that... remember their special relationship with their god. To them, the appearance of A GIANT WOODEN HORSE is logically acceptable.

A Greek spy, Sinon, convinced the Trojans that the horse was a gift despite warnings. The Trojans, who were understandably overjoyed that the ten-year siege had lifted, entered a night of mad revelry and celebration. When the Greeks archers emerged from the horse, they unleashed hell upon the Trojan guards. The Greeks opened the city gates to allow their fellow soldiers in, and the city was utterly destroyed — every single man and boy killed (including infants), every woman and girl enslaved, all its wealth pillaged, and the city itself reduced to rubble.

As you can see, this entire story of Troy and what led to its destruction may be due to the lust of human (Prince Paris & Helen of Troy). It is very tough to escape from lust of material things and I believe that this story teaches a valuable lesson to not give into temptation readily, but to think logically of the consequences that will follow before making a decision. This Greek mythology, whether real or false, is relevant even in modern day life, where many of us will face various different forms of lust and temptation. It also resonate with several religious teaching that we have gone through in class, preaching to purge desires and temptations.

The tale, true or not, also showed the intimate relations between ancient Greeks and their gods. It seems that divine beings are directly interfering with their daily lives (eg, Zeus wanting to depopulate the state).

P.S. on a side note, this whole episode could be avoided if Zeus just behaved like a proper god (at least like those of other civilizations we have studied, prim and proper!)