The Trojan War (Causes and Deaths) Explained
The Trojan War was the greatest conflict in the Greek mythology, a war that was to influences people in literature and arts for centuries.
The war was fought between the Greeks and Trojans with their allies, upon a Phrygian city of Troy (Ilium), on Asia Minor (modern Turkey). The war lasted for ten years and it has been traditionally dated from 1194 to 1184 BC.
|Origin of the War|
|Troy’s Final Days|
|Related articles:||The Odyssey, The Aeneïd and Heroes II.|
Facts and Figures about the Trojan War.
The following articles deal with the causes of the Trojan War, up to the arrival of the Greeks at Troy.
|Judgement of Paris|
|Sacrfices at Aulis|
|Arrival in Troy|
|The causes of the Trojan War actually began before the Greek hero Achilles was born.
The two powerful gods, Zeus and Poseidon try to forced sea-goddess Thetis to lay with them. Themis or Prometheus warned the gods that any son Thetis borne would become greater than his father, and in Zeus’ case, would probably one day rule Olympus. That really dampened both gods’ amorous pursuit of the goddess. Zeus decided to quickly marrying Thetis off to a mortal.
Zeus chose the hero Peleus, son of Aeacus, as the most worthy of mortals. All the gods and goddesses attended her wedding except Eris, goddess of discord. Furious of this slight, Eris threw a golden apple, inscribed “For the fairest”, in the midst of the guests. The wedding was marred, when three powerful goddesses wished to claim the prize as the fairest: Hera, Athena and Aphrodite.
The three goddesses asked Zeus to be their judge. Wishing to have nothing to with the contest, Zeus directed Hermes to refer the arbitration to Paris, a Trojan prince, the young son of Priam and Hecuba.
Each goddess offered to reward him if he chose her. Athena offered to make him become a great hero or general; Hera offered to make him ruler of the richest and powerful kingdom; while Aphrodite offered him the most beautiful woman in the world in marriage: Helen of Sparta. Paris foolishly decided in Aphrodite’s favour and awarded her the golden apple as the fairest of them all. Troy was to suffer the enmity of the two most powerful goddesses.
But Helen had many powerful Greek suitors wooing her in Sparta. So powerful in fact that her father Tyndareüs or Tyndareus (her real father was Zeus), king of Sparta, was afraid that anyone she chose, would offend the other suitors.
This problem was solved when the prudent Odysseus, king of Ithaca, advised the Spartan king, that each suitor must swear an oath, that they will defend the interests of whoever Helen chooses to marry. Any who refused to swear this oath, would not be eligable. All the suitors agreed and swore the oaths to accept whoever became Helen’s husband.
According to the Catalogues of Women, Hesiod wrote what some of the leaders had offered to Helen – rich bridal gifts, such as bowls, cauldrons or tripods made of gold.
Helen chose Menelaüs (Menelaus) as her husband. Menelaüs was the son of Atreus, and brother of Agamemnon, the king of Mycenae. Menelaüs married Helen and Tyndareüs abdicated from the throne, leaving Menelaüs to become the king of Sparta.
(Odysseus knew that Helen would never choose him, but Tyndareüs helped the hero to win Tyndareüs’ niece – Penelope, the daughter of Icarius and cousin of Helen. Odysseus defeated other suitors of Penelope in a foot-race and married the Spartan princess.)
At that time, Paris was living in Mount Ida with his wife, Oenone, a mountain nymph, but he abandoned her for Helen. Oenone told Paris if he was ever wounded that he should come to her, so she could heal him. Oenone had hoped that her husband would return to her.
Despite been warned by his brother and sister, Helenus and Cassandra, who were gifted in divination that his journey would cause the destruction of Troy, Paris sailed to Greece with his cousin Aeneas.
At Sparta, Paris became guest of Menelaüs and Helen. Aphrodite made Helen fall in love with the Trojan prince. When Menelaüs went to attend his grandfather’s funeral in Crete, Helen ran off to Troy with Paris with most of the treasures in Sparta, but leaving her daughter, named Hermione, behind.
|With Helen gone, Menelaüs (Menelaus) called upon Helen’s former suitors to fulfil their obligations and aid him in bringing her back. All of the former suitors answered Menelaüs’ call to arms, bringing contingents of men and ships with them. Menelaüs’ brother, Agamemnon, king of Mycenae, had brought 100 ships with him. Agamemnon became commander-in-chief of the Greek forces.
Agamemnon and Menelaüs learned from the Greek seer Calchas that Troy could not fall without two warriors, Achilles and Odysseus.
Odysseus was the son of Laertes, king of Ithaca, and of Anticleia, the daughter of the master thief Autolycus. Odysseus was renowned for his wisdom, eloquence, cunning and resourcefulness.
Odysseus wanted to avoid being recruited into the Greek army, because he had learned that though the war would last only ten years, he would not return home to Ithaca, until twenty years later. Beside that, Odysseus had only recently married Penelope, the daughter of Icarius and cousin to Helen of Sparta. They had an infant son, named Telemachus.
When Menelaüs, Nestor and Palemedes arrived to conscript Odysseus, the hero feigned madness. Odysseus would plough the field with a horse and an ox, wearing a madman cap. Odysseus sowed the field with salts.
Palemedes, the son of Nauplius, was the just as shrewd and cunning as the wily Ithacan king. Palemedes suspected Odysseus’ ploy, snatched the infant from Penelope’s breast, and place the baby in front of the approaching plough. Odysseus had to steer the plough-team aside, to avoid trampling his son. Palemedes had exposed Odysseus’ feigned madness.
Odysseus had no choice but to join the army. Odysseus gathered his warriors, taking only twelve ships from the islands of Ithaca and Cephallenia.
However, Odysseus never forgave Palemedes for exposing and conscripting him into the army. When they reached Troy, Odysseus was to exact revenge upon Palemedes. (See Arrival in Troy about the death of Palemedes).
Achilles was the son of King Peleus of Phthia and of Thetis, the daughter of Nereus and Doris. The wise Centaur Cheiron brought up Achilles, where he learned to hunt and fight in the forest around Mount Pelion.
Thetis was not only a sea goddess; she was also gifted with oracular power, like many sea deities. Thetis saw that her son would win great glory in the war, but she knew the price, was a short life. But Achilles had choice on what his fate will be. Achilles could choose not to go to the war, where he will live a long but obscure life of tending his father’s herd. Thetis was determined that her son will have a long life. To hide Achilles, she dressed the youth in a girl dress and made his hair grew long, before spirited him away to the women quarters at the court of Lycomedes, in Scyrus.
During his stay in Lycomedes’ court, Deïdameia, the king’s lovely daughter, fell in love with the youth. They became lovers and Deïdameia bore a son, named Neoptolemus, to Achilles. Neoptolemus would later participate in the final year of the war.
Menelaüs, Nestor and Odysseus then went to recruit Achilles into the army, so they sailed to the island of Scyrus. However, the disguise Thetis used on her son was perfect. Odysseus used his cunning and resourcefulness to uncover Achilles’ disguise.
Odysseus brought many gifts for the women in Lycomedes’ court, such as beautiful dresses and robes, jewellery and perfumes. Also among the gifts were spears, swords and shields.
At Odysseus’ pre-arranged signal, war-horns were sounded that the palace was under attack. While the women and girls of Scyrus fled in terror, Achilles leaped into action, taken up the spear and shield, thereby revealing his identity to the Greek leaders.
Once discovered, Achilles eagerly joined the army, because he preferred a short but glorious life than a long but oblivious life of a farmer. Achilles returned to his father’s kingdom, Phthia (southern Thessaly), where he received warriors and fifty ships, from his father. The warriors were the legendary Myrmidons, originally from the island of Aegina. See Aegina about the Myrmidons’ origin.
Achilles received the magical armour of Peleus, which was a wedding gift to his father, made by the smith god, Hephaestus. Peleus also gave his magic sword to his son, as well as his chariot drawn by two immortal horses, Xanthus and Balius. Either his father or Cheiron gave Achilles a long javelin or lance, made from ash tree of Mount Pelion. Apollordorus tell us that Achilles was only fifteen years old, when he joined the army.
Before Achilles left for Troy, Thetis warned her son to avoid killing Tenes, son of Apollo and king of the island of Tendos, or else he would later die at the sun god’s hand (see Sacrifice at Aulis about the death of Tenes). Her other prophecy warned Achilles not to be the first Greek to jump on Trojan soil, or else he would be the first to die (see Arrival in Troy about the death of the first Greek leader).
|With these last two warriors added to the Greek army, the entire forces assembled at Aulis, Boeotia, with their thousand ships. The Greek leaders accepted Agamemnon as the chief-in-command of the army.
Agamemnon sacrificed to all the gods, except Artemis. When they sacrificed to Apollo, Calchas informed the leaders that the war was to last for ten years, because a snake swallowed eight sparrow chicks from a nest, but with the ninth chick, the snake turned into stone.
The fleet set out for Troy. However, they landed instead in Mysia, where they attacked Teuthrania, thinking it was Troy.
Telephus defended his kingdom, killing many Greeks, including the young King Thersander of Thebes, the son of Polyneices. Achilles wounded Telephus in the thigh. When the Greeks realised that they had not attack Troy, they set out to sea for Troy. However, a violent storm drove the Greek fleet back to Greece, where they regathered their forces at Aulis.
Meanwhile, Telephus’ wound would not heal properly. When Telephus consulted the oracle of Apollo, he found out that his wound would only heal from the spear that had wounded him.
Telephus disguised himself as a beggar, abducted the infant Orestes, the son of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. Telephus threatened to kill Agamemnon’s son unless Achilles healed him. However, Achilles was not a healer and knew not how to proceed.
First, Agamemnon had managed to come to an agreement with Telephus. Telephus would guide the fleet to Troy, as well as not to aid his father-in-law, King Priam of Troy, in the coming war. Then the seer Calchas once again advised them that Achilles should scrap the rust from the wound with the spearhead. Telephus’s wound was immediately healed.
Yet, the Greek fleet could not leave the harbour, because of unfavourable winds that blew for months. Calchas discovered that the storm that drove them back to Greece, and the winds that was now keeping them in Aulis, was because of the huntress goddess, Artemis.
When Agamemnon had first sacrificed to the gods, he had failed to honour Artemis, the sister of Apollo, so the goddess punished the entire fleet by sending strong, unfavorable winds. According to a different version, Agamemnon had killed a stag in sacred grove, and then boasted that he was a better hunter than the goddess herself.
The seer Calchas learned that Agamemnon had offended the goddess, and Artemis would not be satisfied unless he had sacrificed his own daughter, Iphigeneia (Iphigenia).
At first, Agamemnon refused to sacrifice his daughter, but discovered the price of leadership. The other Greek leaders forced Agamemnon into submission; otherwise he would have to step down from commander-in-chief’s post.
Odysseus devised a plan to lure Iphigeneia to her death. They sent a false message from Agamemnon that he would marry Iphigeneia to Achilles.
When Iphigeneia arrived at Aulis with her mother, Clytemnestra, they discovered the deception. Achilles was offended that Agamemnon had used his name as a bait to lure Clytemnestra and Iphigeneia to Aulis. Achilles would have defended innocent maiden against the other Greeks, but Iphigeneia bravely accepted her fate, and agreed to be sacrifice.
At the sacrificial altar, before the priest could sacrifice Iphigeneia, a thick fog covered the altar, and when the fog cleared, the maiden was gone. The goddess had replaced Iphigeneia with a fawn.
Artemis had spirited Iphigeneia away, according to the Cyrpia (Epic Cycle) and Euripides’ Iphigeneia at Aulis, to the land of Tauris, where she would stay as the high priestess of Artemis, until she was rescued by her brother, Orestes, years later after the war. (See Iphigeneia among the Taurians.)
According to the Catalogues of Women and in Pausanias’ Geographia, Artemis had transformed Iphigeneia into the goddess Hecate.
According to some versions, they say that Iphigeneia was killed in the sacrifice. Whichever version you have read, the unfavourable winds died, and the Greek fleet sailed once again for Troy.
Telephus guided the Greek fleet as they sailed towards Troy. One of their stops was on the island of Lemnos.
While they were still on the island, Philoctetes went hunting, but was bitten by a poisonous water snake. The wound would not heal and began to fester. The unpleasant odour from the snakebite also caused the Greeks to abandon Philoctetes on the island. According to Sophocles’ Philoctetes, it was Odysseus and Agamemnon who ordered the others to abandon Philoctetes.
Philoctetes would remain on the island until the last year of the war. The Greeks leaders would find out that Troy couldn’t fall without the bow and arrows of Heracles, which Philoctetes possessed. See Fall of Troy about Philoctetes.
The fleet stopped at another island, called Tenedos, where the Greeks fought Tenes, the king of Tenedos. Tenes was the son of Cycnus, who was the king of Colonae, near Troy. However, others say Tenes was the son of Apollo.
As I had mentioned earlier in the Conscriptions, Thetis had warned her son not to kill the son of Apollo, or else he would later died at the god’s hands.
Achilles either forgotten or ignored his mother’s warning. In the heat of the fighting, however, Achilles killed Tenes. See Death of Achilles.
|Among those warriors who join the Greek army, the best were: Achilles, leader of the Myrmidons, son of Peleus and Thetis. Ajax, the tall Salamian leader, son of Telamon and Periboea. Diomedes, the Argive leader, son of Tydeus and Deïpyle (Deipyle); and Odysseus, the resourceful and cunning king of Ithaca, son of Laërtes (Laertes) and Anticleia. (Follow this links, for the list Greek leaders who fought in the Trojan War)
King Priam’s eldest son, Hector, was commander-in-chief of the Trojan forces. Hector was the best warrior on the Trojan side. Hector knew that he was fated to die in the war, but as heir and eldest son of Priam, he was duty bound to defend Troy, even though he thought that his brother was wrong to start this war.
Other renowned allies were two leaders from Lycia, Sarpedon, son of Zeus and Deïdameia, wife of Evander, and Glaucus, son of Hippolochus. (Follow this links, for the list Trojan and their allied leaders who fought in the Trojan War)
Before landing in Troy, the Greeks send Menelaüs and Odysseus as ambassadors, to ask for Helen’s return. The Trojan elder from Dardania, Antenor and some other elders supported return of Helen to her husband Menelaüs, in order to prevent a war.
Paris, however, refused to hand over Helen, was vehemently supported by Antimachus, another Trojan elder. Antimachus even tried to have Menelaüs and Odysseus killed before they could leave the city. This plan would have succeeded had Antenor not rescued the Greeks.
Returning to the ships, Menelaüs brought the inevitable news of war. The Greek ships landed on the coast of Troy, but not of them wish to lead, because it was prophesied that the first Greek to set foot on the soil will be the first to die.
One of the leader, Protesilaüs try to defy fate, leap ashore and after killing several Trojans, was killed himself by Hector. The first Trojan leader to fall to Achilles was Cycnus, a son of Poseidon.
Odysseus never forgave Palemedes, the son of Nauplius, for outwitting him and putting his son (Telemachus) in danger, when Odysseus feigning madness to avoid coming to Troy (see Conscriptions).
According to the Cypria (Epic Cycle), Odysseus and Diomedes drowned Palemedes, while he went fishing.
But the more popular version says that Odysseus, with probably the help from Diomedes, conspired to have Palemedes discredited and killed. Odysseus had fake letter from King Priam that was addressed to Palemedes. The letter would implicate Palemedes of committing treason. The cunning Odysseus also planted evidence of treason on Palemedes. Odysseus had gold secretly buried in Palemedes’s tent.
When the other leaders discovered the letter and the gold, Palemedes was stoned as a traitor, without a trial. Later, after the war, Nauplius and his other son, Oeax, would exact their own avenge on the returning leaders of the Greek army. See Aftermath of the War about Nauplius’ revenge.
The Iliad was the most famous epic poems of the Trojan War, set on the ninth year of the war. Along with the Odyssey, these two works were undoubtedly the greatest masterpieces in Greek literature.
The Iliad was composed by little known author named Homer, who probably lived in the 9th-8th century BC. It was not even certain if there was anyone named Homer, or that the two poems were written by the same person.
However, the Iliad influenced many writers throughout the centuries with its heroic and timeless themes.
|The Day of Battle|
|Reversal of Fortunes|
|Moments of Glories|
|Death of Hector|
|Funerals and Ransom|
|During the ninth year of war, the Greeks realising that they could not expect to win the war, while the Trojans continued to receive troops and supplies from Troy’s neighboring kingdoms and vassals, they decided to set about destroying the vassals. By destroying the surrounding kingdoms, the Greeks not only gained supplies but also women captives.
Achilles took Briseïs (Briseis, Βρισηίς) as his concubine, while Agamemnon took Chryseïs (Chryseis, Χρυσηίς), daughter of Trojan priest of Apollo, Chryses (Χρύσης). Chryses had offered generous ransom to Agamemnon, and even promised to pray to his god for a Greek victory in the war, but Agamemnon foolishly refused his offers. The commander-in-chief insulted and threatened the priest. When her father failed to persuade Agamemnon to return his daughter, Chryses prayed to Apollo, who sends a pestilence through the Greek camp.
For 9 days, the Achaeans died from the pestilence diseases. On the 10th day, Achilles called for assembly and other Greek leaders forced Agamemnon to agree to return Chryseïs to her father. Achilles warned Agamemnon that they couldn’t fight the Trojans if they were dying from the pestilence. In anger, Agamemnon foolishly took Achilles’ concubine Briseïs, to compensate for the loss of his own concubine.
Angered by Agamemnon’s action, Achilles withdrew from the war effort with his men, the Myrmidons. Achilles was never a suitor of Helen, so he had no obligation to fight in this war. The withdrawal of Achilles resulted in disastrous loss to Greeks in the next few days of fighting.
Achilles called upon his mother Thetis (Θέτις), the sea goddess, for aid. Thetis went to Olympus, asking for a boon from Zeus.
When Hera, Poseidon and Athena had rebelled against Zeus, and bound him in chain, in Olympus. It was Thetis who came to Zeus’ aid and freed Zeus and called upon the Hundred-Handed, Briareus. A Hundred-Handed seemed to frighten the gods more than Zeus. So when Thetis pleaded to Zeus to aid her son, Zeus granted her boon, simply by nodding his head. Zeus agreed to make the Greeks suffer, because of Agamemnon’s insult to her son.
But Zeus knew full well of consequence of granting such boon; it would cause far more death on both sides. And this aid from Zeus would inevitably lead Achilles to repay this boon for a higher price.
|Homer spent much of the second chapter of the Iliad, listing the leaders of both sides, which became known as the “Catalogue of Ships“.
The Greek leaders were concern that Achilles’ withdrawal from the battle, because they could be defeated. Agamemnon foolishly said in public, in front of the assembled army, that it would better to leave Troy than being killed or taken prisoners by their enemies. The Greek warriors believed Agamamenon, and they all rushed towards the ships. But Odysseus stopped them through his inspiring skill as an orator. The Achaeans armed themselves for battles, as did the Trojans and their allies.
At first, the battle seemed to favour the Greeks. Hector rebuked his brother for not taking a more active part in the war, which Paris started when he abducted and married Helen. So Paris declared his intention to face Menelaüs (Menelaus).
A truce was called between the two sides. It was decided that the war should end, and the fight should be settled between Menelaüs and Helen, the two rivals and husbands of Helen. Troy would return Helen back to Menelaüs if he should win this duel. If Menelaüs should lose the combat, then the Greeks must return to Greece without Helen.
Menelaüs proved to be a better warrior than Paris, but before Menelaüs could kill his rival, the love goddess Aphrodite spirited Paris away. It was agreed on both sides that Menelaüs had won the combat, so peace settlement was reached.
Zeus however sent his daughter Athena to disrupt the peace, for Troy was destined to fall, soon. Disguised as Laodocus, the son of Antenor, Athena tricked Pandarus, leader from Zeleia, to kill Menelaüs. Pandarus was one of the best archers on the Trojan side. Pandarus thought he would gain glory for killing Paris’ rival. So Pandarus fired his arrow at Menelaüs. Athena prevented the arrow from killing Menelaüs, only allowing the arrow to graze him.
The Greeks believing that the Trojans had broken the peace, so they attacked the Trojans. The truce was broken and fighting broke out on both sides.
The Argive hero Diomedes performed the best on the Greek side on that day. Diomedes killed many Trojans, including Pandarus. Diomedes had also seriously wounded Aeneas. Diomedes was so inspired by Athena that he had even wounded the goddess Aphrodite, who tried to rescue her son. Diomedes even confronted the war-god Ares, who was disguised as Stentor, who was fighting on the Trojan side. Diomedes wounded Ares with his spear.
Diomedes even faced Apollo until he was driven back by the god of light with a warning that it was foolish to attack a god.
Aphrodite returned to Olympus, where Zeus comforted her, and her mother Dione healed her. Ares also returned to Olympus, complaining to Zeus, about Athena’s interference, and helping a mortal to wound him. However, Zeus offered no sympathy to his son, and rebuked his son as a whining coward (as you see here, Athena was Zeus’ favourite child).
Diomedes also confronted the Lycian leader, Glaucus (Glaucos). The two enemy warriors discovered that their grandfathers were guest-friends. Guest-friends were important to the Greeks, and involved exchange of gifts between host and guest. A host and guest were also under the obligations of not fighting one another.
Diomedes and Glaucus decided to renew the guest-friend relationship between them. They promised not to fight each other in the battlefield, and exchanged armours. Homer remarked on that Diomedes received armour of gold from Glaucus, which was worth more than the bronze armour he gave to Glaucus.
Since the Greeks were getting the better of the day, Hector returned to the city and asked his mother (Hecuba) and sisters to offer sacrifices to the goddess Athena, since she was actually the patron goddess of Troy. There was a wooden image of Athena, called the Palladium, which supposedly protected Troy from being captured. However, Athena ignored the Trojan women’s prayers and sacrifices, because of her enmity towards Paris and Troy, since the day of the Judgement of Paris.
While in the city, Hector met his wife, Andromache, and his son, Astyanax at the temple of Athena. Here there is a moving scene where Andromache was worried over her husband’s safety in the battlefield. She had already lost her father and brothers to Achilles. Hector had foreseen his own death and that of Troy, yet as the commander of the Trojan forces, Hector must fight or else he would be branded a coward by his warriors; something that Hector could not bear.
Finally, Hector wished to embrace his son, but his fearsome helmet frightened Astyanax. So the boy drew back from him, which made Hector laughed. Hector prayed to the gods that his son would be as brave and fearsome warrior as himself. But this was not meant to be.
The day’s fighting ended with one last single combat, in which Hector challenged the bravest of the Greeks. Many Greek champions wanted to fight Hector in a duel. They drew lot, and Ajax, the son of Telamon, was given the right to face Hector. When the duel ended in a draw, in which the two heroes exchanged gifts. Ajax received a sword from Hector, while he gave Hector a purple girdle.
A one-day truce was agreed upon from both sides, to allow them to bury their comrades who had fallen that day. Nestor advised the Greek leaders that it would be wise to build a defensive wall around the Greek camp. There have been no walls around the camp, because they had nothing to fear, when Achilles was among them. So walls of earthwork were quickly erected in the morning, to protect the camp and ships.
|The next day, the Greeks suffered a reversal in fortune. Zeus had decided to honour his promise to Thetis. Zeus ordered all of the gods and goddesses not to take part in the war. With Zeus favouring the Trojans, the Greeks were routed back, and forced to take shelter behind their newly made wall.
That night, Nestor persuaded Agamemnon to apologise to Achilles, asking the hero to return to the fighting. Agamemnon agreed to return Achilles’ concubine, as well as offering gold to Achilles, as compensation for the hero’s injured pride. Agamemnon sent Nestor, Odysseus and Ajax as embassy to Achilles. Although the three leaders were friends of Achilles, the hero refused to return to the war. Achilles told the embassy that he would not return, even if Agamemnon had offered all the treasure of Egypt. Achilles even threatened to return home. Ajax was less than diplomatic, rebuked his cousin.
Agamemnon was still upset with the news and he couldn’t sleep. He was seriously thinking of ending the war and return home. Nestor suggested that they should send two warriors to gather intelligence and gauge the morale on the Trojan camp. Odysseus and Diomedes volunteered for the reconnaissance.
At the same time the Trojans sent their own spy, named Dolon, to the Greek camp. Odysseus and Diomedes captured Dolon, and found out that Rhesus, the king of the Thracians had recently arrived with his contingents. Rhesus had brought a beautiful gold chariot, drawn by two immortal horses.
Once they had this information, Odysseus and Diomedes murdered Dolon, before sneaking into the Thracian camp. Diomedes killed twelve sleeping nobles as well as Rhesus. Diomedes and Odysseus then stole Rhesus’ immortal horses and returned to their camp.
|The next day, fierce fighting continued. At first, the Greeks were able to drive the Trojans back. But the tide turned at mid-morning in favour of the Trojans. Several hours before noon, three Greek leaders were wounded: Agamemnon, Odysseus and Diomedes.
Agamemnon had killed many Trojans that day, but he received a severe wound on the arm from Coon, the son of the Trojan elder Antenor. Yet Agamemnon managed to kill Coon, before he retired behind the front line.
Diomedes and Odysseus fought side by side, relentlessly killing Trojans and their allies and routing the others with their inexorable advance. Together they confronted Hector. Diomedes hurled his spear at Hector, which the struck the Trojan leader on the helm. Though, the spear did not kill him, Hector fell senseless to the ground. Before Diomedes could kill Hector, Apollo spirited the Trojan hero away. As they drove the Trojans back, Paris fired an arrow at Diomedes. The arrow pierced Diomedes’ foot, so the Argive commander was also forced to retire, leaving Odysseus to continue the fight.
Odysseus debated with himself, whether he should rejoin the main Greek line, or continue ahead. But Odysseus reminded himself that as a leader and a warrior, he should not retreat like a coward. So in rapid succession, Odysseus killed five Trojan warriors. When Odysseus downed Hippasides Charops, Socus (Hippasides’ brother) wounded Odysseus in the side. Yet when Socus tried to retreat, Odysseus killed Socus with his own spear. The Trojans seeing that Odysseus was wounded, they surrounded the hero. Menelaus and Telamonian Ajax arrived in time to rescue Odysseus.
With three prominent leaders out of the fighting, the Greeks were driven back to face the Trojans behind the wall. Another Greek leader, named Eurypylus, received a leg wound from the arrow of Paris. Eurypylus returned to the Greek camp, where Patroclus, the beloved companion of Achilles, attended and dressing his wound. Patroclus heard the disastrous news from Eurypylus about how the Greeks were forced to retreat behind their defensive walls. It was this news that Patroclus was determined to push Achilles into action, and save the Greeks from defeat. Patroclus returned to the Achilles’ camp.
Zeus and Apollo inspired the Trojans, broke through Greek defensive walls and entered the camp. It was Hector himself, who broke through the gate. The Trojans entered through this gate, even bringing in chariots. And despite Ajax brave defence before the Greek ships, he could not prevent Hector from burning one of the ships.
When Achilles saw that one of the ships was set ablaze, he allowed his beloved companion and squire, Patroclus, the son of Menoetius, to lead the Myrmidons and to drive the Trojans out of the Greek camp. Achilles also allowed Patroclus to wear his armour and told his friend to return after the Trojans were out of the Greek camp. But his pride wouldn’t allow him to actually rejoin the fighting.
The Trojans thought that Achilles had returned to the fighting and were driven out of Greek camp by Patroclus and the Myrmidons. Many Trojans were killed at the gate of the Greek camp, because the gate caused a bottleneck in the retreat, which caused the Trojan chariots to crash into one another.
Rather than returning to Achilles after driving the Trojans out of the Greek camp, Patroclus kept on fighting. It look like the Greeks would drive the Trojans back to the city, with Patroclus leading the charge. Apollo stunned Patroclus with a blow to his head, while the Dardanian, named Euphorbus, wounded Patroclus. Hector killed Patroclus when he was stunned and helpless. Hector stripped Achilles’ armour from Patroclus’ body and wore the god-fashioned armour.
Though Ajax and Menelaus managed to recover Patroclus’ body, there was fierce fighting around the body. The fighting ended only when Achilles heard that Hector had killed his friend. Since Hector had taken the armour of Peleus from Patroclus’ body, Achilles could not possibly rejoin the fight, but Athena told Achilles to go to the top of the wall, unarmed and shouts three times. Achilles did what Athena told him; everyone in the battlefield heard his shouts. With the setting sun behind his back, Achilles looked the sun god himself. The Trojans were taken aback by this phenomenon and hastily withdrew back to their city wall, ending the day’s fighting.
Achilles was grief stricken by Patroclus’ death. He realised that his pride had cost him his friend’s life. Achilles decided to return to the battle and avenge Patroclus’ death.
|Achilles came to the battlefield, with new armour and shield from his mother, fashioned by the god Hephaestus. Homer gave a long description of the shield’s design. Achilles was determined to seek out and kill Hector in single combat.
There was a short argument that morning, between Achilles and Odysseus. Achilles refused to eat the morning meal before going into battle. Odysseus pointed out to the younger hero that he would have no chance against the well-fed Hector. Odysseus told him, to mourn for Patroclus, but every man should eat before going into battle. Achilles stubbornly refused to listen to common sense. Achilles accused Odysseus of gluttony; that the Ithacan leader was always thinking about his stomach. Achilles refused to take a single crust of bread, until Patroclus was avenged.
Even Zeus agreed with Odysseus’ argument about eating before heading to battle. Zeus sent Athena to Achilles, to secretly nourish the intractable hero with ambrosia.
Zeus decreed that the Olympians were allowed to visit the battle againfield, now that he had fulfilled his vow to the goddess Thetis. Another reason that the other gods was allowed to re-enter the battlefield, is to check Achilles from sacking Troy today. Achilles was not allowed to capture Troy; the city would not fall until its appointed time. This seemed to indicate that Achilles could change the course of history if his murderous rage was left unchecked.
Achilles set out to avenge his friend, killing many Trojans and driving them back towards city in a rout. Poseidon, who normally favoured the Greeks, saved Aeneas from Achilles. Poseidon told the Trojan hero that he was destined to rule Troy.
However, Polydorus’, the youngest son of Priam, did not escape from Achilles. Priam had refused to allow Polydorus to fight, but Polydorus had heedlessly ignored his father’s order on that fateful day. Polydorus was the fastest runner, but he could not outrun Achilles and his mighty spear.
Hector saw his younger brother fall to Achilles. Hector set out to avenge his brother. Achilles would have killed Hector there and then, but it was not the right time or place for Hector to die. So Apollo spirited Hector away in the white cloud. Rage filled Achilles’ heart because his mortal enemy had escaped him, so Achilles pursued the fleeing Trojans.
Achilles was relentless, killing many Trojans at the Scamander River, so much so that blood and bodies were choking the river. Lycaon, the son of Priam and Laothoe, pleaded to Achilles on his knees to spare him and take him hostage, for Priam would give Achilles ransom. Achilles had previously captured Lycaon, on the first day of the war, and Achilles had gained rich treasure from Lycaon’s ransom. But since beloved Pattroclus had died yesterday, Achilles had no heart to spare a single Trojan that he face today, let alone the half-brother of Patroclus’ slayer. Achilles plunged his sword into Lycaon’s neck. Lycaon died on the river bank. The implacable warrior then flung Lycaon’s body into the river.
The river-god warned Achilles not to kill the Trojans in his water. When Achilles did not listen, Scamander tried to drown the hero. Hera seeing this, ordered her son, Hephaestus, to rescue Achilles; Hephaestus did so, and had even threatened to dry the river with fire, if Scamander persisted in drowning Achilles. Scamander was forced to retreat.
The fighting wasn’t just confined on the plains of Troy. On Olympus, most of the gods were either supporting the Greeks or the Trojans. Hera, Poseidon, Athena and Hephaestus tended to favour the Greeks, while Apollo and his sister Artemis, Ares and Aphrodite preferred the Trojans.
Tempers flared among the gods.
The hot-tempered Ares, god of war, tried to attack Athena with his spear. Athena coolly hurled the rock at Ares, knocking down the god of war. When Aphrodite went to her lover’s aid, Athena punched Aphrodite in the face, so that the goddess of love lay unconscious next to Ares.
Poseidon was feeling bellicose towards Apollo, but the younger god refused to be baited by the sea god. Hera boxed the Artemis in the ears, with the huntress’ own bow, sending the younger goddess crying to Zeus. Hermes, who was more civilized, took no action against Leto, mother of Apollo and Artemis, leaving the Titaness in peace.
Zeus watched these scenes from his throne with great amusement.
There was mad scramble by the Trojans to retreat behind the Troy’s seemingly invulnerable walls. The god Apollo disguised as Agenor, a Trojan warrior and the son of the Trojan elder Antenor, aided the fleeing Trojans. Apollo encouraged Achilles into chasing him so the Trojans and their allies were able to escape Achilles’ deadly pursuit.
Only Hector remained outside Troy’s wall, but he lost his nerve when he saw Achilles running towards him. Achilles pursued Hector three times around the walls of Troy. Athena appeared, disguised as Deïphobus (Deiphobus), Hector’s brother. The goddess lured Hector into confronting Achilles. So Hector stopped in front of Scaean Gates, thinking that he would fight Achilles with his brother at his side.
Apollo, his protector, had deserted him. Hector faced Achilles alone in single combat, while the goddess Athena aided Achilles. Though Zeus admired Hector for his courage and piety, the god could not save him, since the Trojan hero was destined to die that very day.
Hector failed to persuade Achilles to allow his people to bury him should he lose if he would do the same for Achilles. Achilles told Hector that he would leave his body to rot and feed the dogs and vultures.
After hurling their spears at one another, Athena retrieved Achilles’ spear, but Hector was armed only with a sword. When Hector turned towards his brother to get his brother’s spear, Deïphobus (actually Athena) had already vanished. Only then did Hector realise that the goddess Athena had duped him into fighting Achilles. Hector made a brave charge at Achilles, brandishing his sword, but Achilles ran his ashen spear through Hector’s neck.
Achilles stripped Hector’s armour that Patroclus had borrowed from Achilles. Achilles had Hector’s body dragged behind his chariot, as the victor returned to the Greek camp.
Black despairs fell upon the city, as Troy watched the death of her favourite son. Among those who saw Hector’s death were his parents, Priam and Hecuba, and Hector’s distraught wife Andromache, who was now a widow.
|Not satisfy with avenging Patroclus, Achilles proceeded to desecrate Hector’s body. Achilles tied the girdle that Hector received from Ajax, at the end of Achilles’ chariot to Hector’s ankles. Achilles then proceeded to drag the body behind his chariot. Zeus did not like this treatment with Hector’s body. Zeus ordered his son, Apollo, to anoint Hector with ambrosia, to preserve the body from damages and decays.
For twelve days, Achilles mourned over the loss of his companion. Patroclus’ spirit came to Achilles in a dream, begging the hero to bury him. A funeral was held in the morning. Twelve Trojan captives were sacrificed at the funeral.
Great funeral games were held in Patroclus’ honour. Achilles presided over the games, while other Greek leaders took part in the events, such as wrestling, boxing, archery, a footrace and a chariot race.
You will find a list of games and winners to Patroclus’ funeral games in Fact and Figures.
It was only with the aid of the god Hermes that Priam managed to slip into Greek camp and entered Achilles’ tent without letting the other Greek leaders know of his presence.
The gods had already entered Achilles’ dream, ordering the hero to give Hector’s body to his father for burial. Achilles dared not to disobey the gods, made ready to accept the ransom. Achilles didn’t expect that Priam himself would come to his tent in person and alone.
The aged king pleaded Achilles to remember that his own father would be the same age as him and that Peleus would also be concern with his son’s well being. Achilles treated Priam with great respect and chivalry. Achilles knew that his own death would follow shortly after Hector, but Troy was doomed to fall not long after, as Achilles’ mother had foretold. Achilles even granted Priam twelve days respite from fighting, until the funeral of Hector was completed.
Priam brought Hector’s body back to Troy, where a great funeral was prepared. Even Helen mourned for him, since he had always treated her with respect, whereas everyone else treated her with contempt since she was one of the causes of the war.
Homer ended the Iliad with a final tribute to “Hector the Tamer of Horses”.
The following articles recount the events begins where the Iliad ended (funeral of Hector), with arrival of new allies for Troy and the death of Achilles and Ajax to the final outcome of the war.
|Death of Achilles|
|Fall of Troy|
|Aftermath of the War|
|The Trojans received further aids, first from the Amazons and later Ethiopians or Assyrians.
The Amazon queen, Penthesileia, was a daughter of Ares, and sister of Hippolyte. When she arrived at Troy, she boast of her prowess. But Andromache, the newly-grieving widow of Hector, rebuked the Amazon Queen, asking her to be cautious and not to be boastful, since there are a number of great fighters among the Greeks.
After Hector’s funeral, the Greeks and the Trojans rejoined fighting out on the Trojan plains. But Achilles was still mourning over Patroclus.
With Troy’s new ally, the Amazons and their Queen drove back the Greeks. Penthesileia killed many Greeks before Achilles killed her. According to Apollodorus, among the Greeks to fall to her deadly spear, was the physician Machaon, the son of Asclepius.
When the Amazon Queen fell, Achilles stripped Penthesileia of her armour, he saw that the woman was young and very beautiful. He seemed to have fallen madly in love with her, and regret killing Penthesileia.
One of the Greeks, named Theristes (the ugliest and lame fighter) mocked Achilles for his behaviour, because the hero was mourning his enemy. Enraged, Achilles killed Thersites with a single blow to his face.
Thersites was quarrelsome and abusive in character, that only his cousin, Diomedes, mourned for him. Diomedes would have avenged Thersites, but the leaders persuaded their two of their best warriors from fighting among themselves. Diomedes took Penthesileia’s body and threw it into the river. According to Quintus Smyrnaeus, the Greek leaders agreed to the boon of returning her body to the Trojans for her funeral pyre.
Odysseus helped Achilles to be purified for the killing a fellow Greek. Odysseus took Achilles to the island of Lesbos, where he sacrificed to Leto and her children, Apollo and Artemis.
|The Trojans received new reinforcement from the Ethiopians or Assyrians. They were led by a prince, named Memnon, son of Tithonus and Eos, the goddess of dawn. Tithonus was Priam’s brother. Memnon killed many Greeks, causing the Achaeans to retreat.
In the confusion of the retreat, the aged Nestor was surrounded by enemies, among them was Memnon. Antilochus tried to save his father, but he was killed. Nestor was grief-stricken over his son’s death, and tried to confront the Ethiopian prince. Memnon, however, saw no honour in such combat against an old man, so he refused to fight with Nestor. Nestor lamented that he no longer has the strength of his youth.
Nestor called upon Achilles to avenge Antiochus. Thetis, gifted with the oracle, had warned her son that he would die not long after Memnon. Heedless of his mother’s warning Achilles killed Memnon, thereby avenging Antilochus.
With Memnon’s death, the Trojans lost heart, and fled back towards the city’s walls, with Achilles in close pursuit. Achilles was at the Scaean Gate, when an arrow from Paris, guided by the archer god Apollo, pierced his heel. His heel was the only spot on his body that was vulnerable to weapon (hence the “Achilles’ heel”).
There was fierce fighting over Achilles’ body. In the fighting, Telamonian Ajax killed Glaucus (Glaucos), the last leader of the Lycians. While Ajax carried Achilles’ body back to camp, Odysseus kept the Trojans back.
There is another variation as to how Achilles died. Achilles had seen Polyxena, daughter of Priam and Hecuba. Achilles fell in love with her. Achilles secretly went to her home to ask for her hand in marriage. Polyxena’s brothers, Paris and Deíphobus, awaiting his arrival, ambushed and slew him. The later classical authors had shown a less heroic ending for Achilles, but it would explain the earlier texts, why the ghost of Achilles wants to have the Greeks sacrifice Polyxena to him, after the Fall of Troy.
When the funeral was held in the Greek camp, Thetis came with her sisters, the Nereids, mourning over the death of her son. A funeral pyre was lit, cremating his body. His ashes were placed in the same urn, as to that of his beloved friend, Patroclus. Arrangements were made for the funeral games to be held after the funeral.
After the funeral, it was decided that the Achilles’ armour, made by the god Hephaestus, should be awarded to the best warrior. Ajax and Odysseus both contest for the armour. The Greek leaders awarded the armour to Odysseus.
Furious with the decisions of the judges, Ajax decided to kill Odysseus that night. His plan was thwarted, when he was driven mad by Athena, Odysseus’ protector. Ajax started killing herd of sheep, imagining that he was killing the Greek leaders who awarded the armour to Odysseus. Ajax slaughtered a large ram, thinking that it was Odysseus. Returning to sanity, Ajax was mortified by what he done, and in his despair, Ajax killed himself with the sword that Hector had given him.
Ajax’s half-brother, Teucer, bitterly accused them of sacrilege for not respecting one of their fallen leaders. Bloodshed was prevented between Teucer and the Atreidae (Agamemnon and Menelaüs), only through the intervention of Odysseus. Odysseus argued in favour of burying Ajax in full honour, because he believed that Ajax’s bravery had earned that respect. Odysseus also told them that he would like to be given decent burial if he was killed.
Agamemnon and Menelaüs had no choice but to respect Odysseus’ decision. Odysseus told Teucer that he would not have contested Ajax, if he had realised how much Ajax wanted Achilles’ armour.
According to one story, the armour was buried with Ajax, but the more common version, say that Odysseus gave the armour to Achilles’ son, Neoptolemus.
|The Greeks were dismayed by the deaths of two of their greatest fighters. The city seemed as invulnerable as ever.
The Greek seer, named Calchas, told them Troy won’t fall until Neoptolemus, son of Achilles join the war. Calchas also said that the bow and arrows of Heracles must be brought to Troy. According to Apollodorus, it was the Trojan seer Helenus who said the Greeks must fetch Neoptolemus, but this conflicts with other prophecies.
Odysseus easily persuaded young Neoptolemus to join the Greeks. Neoptolemus was living with his mother Deídameia, daughter of Lycomedes, on the island of Scyrus. The bow of Heracles, however, belonged to one of the Greek leaders named Philoctetes, whom the Greeks had abandoned on the island of Lemnos due to the vile odour from snakebite.
Philoctetes was bitter of the Greeks deserting him on the uninhabited island, and he refused to join the Greeks, when they arrived. Philoctetes want to kill Odysseus, Agamemnon and Menelaus, because they were responsible for leaving him behind. Philoctetes would have killed Odysseus, until the appearance and intervention of Heracles himself. Either Philoctetes or his father had lit the hero’s funeral pyre; in return, Heracles had given his mighty bow to whoever had lit his pyre. Philoctetes or his father happened to be Heracles’ friend. Heracles, now a god, persuaded his friend to return with Odysseus to Troy. Heracles assured his old friend that he would finally be healed.
At Troy, Philoctetes was healed by one of the Greek healers, named Machaon, the son of Asclepius.
In the fighting, the first person Philoctetes mortally wounded with his arrow was Paris.
Paris remembering his first wife’s words, whom he had abandoned for Helen. Oenoe had told Paris before he left for Sparta that she would heal him if he was ever wounded. But the nymph could not forgive him for not returning earlier; she refused to heal Paris. Paris had no choice but to return to Troy to die. Oenone at once regret her decision, and went after Paris with drug to heal him of the Hydra’s venom. But it was too late for Oenone to save him. In her grief, Oenone hanged herself.
One last ally came to Troy’s aid. Eurypylus, the son of Telephus, against his father’s wishes, because Telephus had promised the Greeks he would not aid Troy in the war. Breaking Telephus’ promises, Eurypylus arrived with new Mysian reinforcement. Eurypylus killed many Greeks, including the healer, Machaon. Neoptolemus killed Eurypylus, avenging Machaon’s death.
Helenus left the city but was captured by Odysseus. Helenus was the son of Priam and Hecuba, but he was also a seer, like his sister, Cassandra. The Greeks somehow managed to persuade the seer to reveal the weakness of Troy. The Greeks learnt from Helenus, that Troy would not fall, while the Palladium, image or statue of Athena, remained within Troy’s walls. One night, Odysseus and Diomedes slipped into Troy and stole the Palladium.
The Greeks realised they would only be able to capture the city if they can get some forces within Troy. Odysseus later devised the stratagem on finally winning the war, by building a gigantic wooden horse, and leaving it on the beach. The wooden horse would have some selected men, led by Odysseus, hidden inside its belly. The main force of the Greeks would leave their camp and sailed their ships away, hiding behind the nearest island.
A Greek spy, Sinon, was deliberately left behind, who would try to convince the Trojans that the Greeks had sailed home, and that Trojans should bring the horse inside their walls. The Trojan seers, Cassandra and Laocoön (Laocoon) tried to warn them not to listen to Sinon, but a sea-monster send by Poseidon, killed Laocoön and his two sons. The sea god’s intervention had convinced the Trojans that they had won the war, so they brought the wooden horse within Troy’s walls. (Follow this link, for the list Greek heroes who had hid inside the Wooden Horse in Facts and Figures.)
The Trojans celebrated their apparent victory before going to bed. The Greek warriors inside the wooden horse, climbed out of the hidden compartment, open the gate to allow the Greek army entrance into the sleeping city. Agamemnon returned with the main body of the Greek army, and entered the city.
Fighting erupted during the night inside Troy. Although the Trojans fought well in their city, too many of the Trojans were killed in the first hour of attack.
Only two Trojan (Dardanian) leaders survived. Antenor and his family were protected by Menelaüs and Odysseus, who hanged a panther’s hide outside of Antenor’s door. This warned the Greeks not to harm anyone inside Antenor’s home.
Before the war had begun, it was Antenor who advised Priam in returning Helen to Menelaüs. Antenor protected the Greek embassy from attack, when another elder wished to murder them. (See Arrival in Troy about Antenor helping the Greek embassy.)
According to the Little Iliad and to Pausanias in the Description of Greece (in which Pausanias was referring to in the Little Iliad as his source), Antenor had a son, named Helicaon, and was wounded in the fighting. Odysseus seeing and recognising the son of Antenor, rescued the young Dardanian warrior, and took him to safety. Apollodorus, however doesn’t mention Helicaon at all, because according to him, Odysseus and Menelaus rescued Glaucus, another son of Antenor, in reaching the safety of his father’s home. Helicaon was married to Laodice, daughter of Priam and Heccuba; she was said to be most beautiful of all Priam’s daughters. Before any Greek could capture her, according to Apollodorus, the earth opened up and swallowed her.
The other leader of Troy who had escaped, was another Dardanian, named Aeneas, the son of Anchises and goddess Aphrodite. There are several versions on Aeneas survived the destruction of Troy. According to the Sack of Ilium (Epic Cycle), after the Trojan prophet Laocoon was killed, Aeneas withdrew from Troy and returned home with some of his followers to Mount Ida. On the other hand, in the Little Iliad (Epic Cycle), Neoptolemus took Aeneas and Andromache, Hector’s wife, as his prized captives. Neoptolemus then let Aeneas lived in Pharsalia. But according to Apollodorus, on the other hand, the Greeks allowed Aeneas to leave with his father, carrying Anchises on his shoulders, because of Aeneas’ piety. According to Homer, in the Iliad, Poseidon had foretold that Aeneas would establish a new dynasty at Troy, but none of the later sources follow this version.
According to Dionysius of Halicarnassus and some Roman sources, Aeneas migrated to Italy, and settled near Rome, but according to some sources, he actually founded Rome, naming after a woman, named Rhome. The best known version of Aeneas migrating to Latium, Italy is found in Virgil’s Aeneid, a Roman epic written during the time of the reign of Augustus in Rome. See Aeneas and the Aeneid for different versions of Aeneas’ fate.
By the early morning, Troy had fallen. Neoptolemus had killed Priam either in the palace or at the temple of Zeus. Menelaüs or Odysseus (or both) killed Helen’s new husband, Deïphobus. Astyanax, Hector’s son, was flung to his death at the top of Troy’s wall. According to The Sack of Ilium, it was Odysseus who murdered Astyanax, but Pausanias, with Lescheus as his source, says that it was Neoptolemus, who was responsible for Astyanax’s killing.
The ghost of Achilles appeared before the Greeks demanding the sacrifice of Priam’s youngest daughter, Polyxena, to appease his spirit. Polyxena preferred death to slavery, willingly allowed Neoptolemus to cut her throat upon Achilles’ grave. (See Death of Achilles for the possible cause for Polyxena’s sacrifice.)
Disaster fell upon the Greeks, during the sacking and looting of the great city. The seeress Cassandra, daughter of Priam and Hecuba, clung to the statute of Athena, but the Lesser Ajax raped her. Odysseus, unsuccessfully, tried to persuade the Greek leaders to put Ajax to death, by stoning the Locrian leader. Odysseus hoped to divert the goddess’ anger. Ajax, however, saved himself by throwing himself upon the very image he had just desecrated. See Aftermath of the War, about the death of Lesser Ajax and the fates of the other Greek leaders.
The Trojan women were to become slaves and concubines to the Greek leaders. Among the most notable, Neoptolemus took Andromache, while Cassandra became Agamemnon’s concubine, and Hecuba became Odysseus’ slave.
|There were many sources for the adventure and homecoming of the Greek leaders, after the war. Homer’s Odyssey contained some of the allusions to the returns of several Greek leaders. A couple had returned home safely like Nestor and Menelaus. Some of the leaders were dead and can be found in the Underworld. Another source was the Nostoi, which literally means the “Returns”.
Here I will go briefly over some of the events that happened after the Greeks left Troy. Some of the events can be found in greater detail in other pages, so feel free to follow the links to the other pages, after you have read this.
Athena and Poseidon were two of the most powerful allies of the Greek forces throughout the war. However, the failure of most of the Greek leaders to punish Ajax the Lesser for the sacrilege of her (Athena’s) altar, resulted in the destruction of most of the Greek fleet.
Athena called upon Poseidon to bring a violent storm upon the Greek fleet. While many ships were destroyed by sudden storm, the Lesser Ajax having survived when his ship was wrecked. Ajax swam to a rock and boasted that not even a god could kill him. Poseidon hurled a thunderbolt splitting the rock that he was clinging to. Ajax fell into the sea and drowned. Some leaders were killed on their way home.
Although some Locrians survived and managed to return home, Locris was struck by a plague 3 years later. The oracle told them that must take Locrian maidens to Troy as suppliants for the next thousand years. Periboea and Cleopatra were the 1st girls, chosen by lot. Upon their arrival at Troy, the people chased the girls to a santuary, where they would remain until they die. Their duty was to keep the sanctuary clean, living in poverty. They had only tunic, but no shoes, and they kept their heads shorn. If they tried to leave the precinct, they would be killed. When these girls died, Locris sent another two until generations later and a thousand year had passed, this custom was stopped.
Few leaders escaped the storm and returned safely to Greece, while others were either exiled from their home or migrated to other lands after the war, founding cities in various part of Asia Minor (modern Turkey).
Those ships that had survived the storm off the coast of Tenos would face another diaster. Nauplius, the father of Palemedes, wanted to avenge his son, whom the Greek leaders had stoned to death.
When the ships neared the large island of Euboea at night, Nauplius set alight a beacon on Mount Caphereus. The Greek fleet thinking that there was a safe harbour to land, soon discovered the deception, but by that time it was too late. The beacon was used to lure the Greeks to their death. Their ships crashed into the Capherian Rocks and sank. Many Greeks either drowned in the sea or the waves battered them to death against the hard rocks. Nauplius became known as the Wrecker of Ships.
Nauplius’ enmity and plots didn’t end there. Nauplius managed to persuade some of wives of the Greek leaders to take lovers during their husbands’ long absence. These leaders were Agamemnon, Idomeneus and Diomedes. Three leaders had no trouble reaching home safely with all their ships, but they found trouble brewing at home.
Upon arriving at Argos, Diomedes discovered that Cometes, son of Diomedes’ friend Sthenelus, had seduced his wife Aegialeia, the daughter of Adrastus. Cometes drove Diomedes into exile. Diomedes migrated to southern Italy, settling in Apulia and founded a city called Argyripa, which was later called Arpi.
Idomeneus was the king of Crete. Idomeneus was one of the older leaders in Greek army. His wife was named Meda, and her lover was Leucos (Leucus). However, once Leucos gained control over ten cities in Crete, he killed Meda and her daughter Cleisthyra. Then Leucos drove Idomeneus out of Crete. Idomeneus had also migrated to Italy and settled at Sallentine Plain.
Philoctetes, the owner of the bow of Heracles, had also migrated to Italy. He first landed in Campania, before moving south and became involved in the war against the Lucanians. Philoctetes finally settled near Croton, where he founded Crimissa.
Agamemnon had a worse fate than Diomedes and Idomeneus, which I will soon briefly tell. See Agamemnon.
Calchas, the seer for the Greek army followed the Lapith leaders, Polypoetes and Leonteus, migrating to Colophon, in Asia Minor. Here they found and buried the body of Teiresias, the blind Theban seer, who died after the Epigoni. They settled in Colophon.
Some times later, Calchas encountered another seer named Mopsus, son of Manto, daughter of Teiresias. Calchas had foolishly challenged the seer into a contest. Calchas asked the other seer, how many leaves were on the fig tree. Mopsus answered correctly, who then asked his own question in regarding to the pregnant sow. Calchas had answered eight, but Mopsus refuted Calchas’ answer, by saying that the sow would give birth in the next morning to nine piglets, and all of them were male. In the morning, Mopsus’ answer was true. Calchas died in sorrow and mortification, for having lost to a superior prophet. Calchas was buried in Notion.
Before the Greeks left Troy, the Greeks divided the spoils between themselves. The queen Hecuba became Odysseus’ slave.
Before actual fighting had started at Troy, Priam and Hecuba left one of their sons, Polydorus, to be brought up in Thrace, ruled by King Polymestor. They had hoped that at least one of their sons would survive after the war.
When Odysseus stopped at Thrace, Hecuba found that the king had murdered her son for gold. Hecuba somehow managed to blind Polymestor and then murder him. Hecuba was punished by the gods, where they transformed her into a dog.
There is another version told briefly by Apollodorus. The Greeks set the Trojan seer free, and gave Hecuba to Helenus’ care. Mother and son travelled to Chersonese, and without any reason given, she was transformed into a dog. There were no mentions of her son Polydorus, and that of Polymestor.
The geographer Pausanias mentioned that a poet Stesichorus wrote in his Sack of Troy that Apollo spirited Hecuba away to Lycia. Since I don’t have any of Stesichorus’ work or the existence of Sack of Troy, I can’t verify what Pausanias has written.
Angry with the gods for making the war last so long, Menelaüs (Menelaus) did not sacrifice to the gods, when he left Troy. Menelaüs and Helen became stranded in Egypt for seven years. Telemachus, the son of Odysseus would later meet Menelaüs and Helen at Sparta; the young man seeking news of his father. See the Odyssey for more detail about Menelaüs in Egypt.
Menelaüs’ brother, Agamemnon received Hecuba’s daughter, Cassandra as his concubine. Agamemnon was not troubled by the storm that wrecked most of the Greek fleet, because he had taken the time to sacrifice and pray to all the gods.
Orestes avenged his father’s death by killing Aegisthus and his own mother Clytemnestra. Persecuted by the Erinyes and suffering from madness for murdering his mother, Orestes became king of Mycenae and Argos after he was cured.
Helenus advised Neoptolemus to travel overland, but in The Returns (Epic Cycle), this advice was to him by his grandmother Thetis. Neoptolemus treated Andromache and Helenus quite well.
During his journey through Thrace, Neoptolemus encountered Harpalycus, king of the Amymnei. He fought and wounded the king, but Harpalycus’ daughter, Harpalyce, was a formidable fighter, and she drove Neoptolemus off with her skill in weaponry.
Neoptolemus went to Phthia, first, where his aged grandfather, Peleus, still ruled. Helenus then advised Neoptolemus to migrate to north-west of Greece. Here, Neoptolemus became king of Epeirus. Andromache bore two sons to Neoptolemus: Molossus and Pergamus. When Neoptolemus went to Sparta to marry Hermione, daughter of Helen and Menelaüs, Neoptolemus set Helenus and Andromache to marry, and set them free.
However, Orestes, son of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, also wanted to marry Hermione. Orestes had only recently being cured of madness and had only regained his father’s kingdom. Orestes with Hermione conspired to murder her husband. Orestes killed Neoptolemus. Orestes then married Hermione and would later ruled Sparta, after Menelaus’ death.
Peleus had now outlived his son and grandson. Peleus did manage to save his great-grandsons from being murdered by Orestes and Hermione. When they had grown to manhood, Molossus became king of a northern region of Epeirus that was named after him, while his brother Pergamus moved to Mysia with his followers. Pergamus conquered and settled in the city of Teuthrania, which he named after himself, Pergamon or Pergamus.
According to the Little Iliad (Epic Cycle), the Trojan hero Aeneas was captured by the Greeks and became slave of Neoptolemus. However the best known version about Aeneas after the war, says that he settled in Italy, with some followers. This version, called the Aeneid, was the greatest Latin epic poem, written by a Roman writer, named Vergil or Virgil.
As one of Athena’s favourites, Odysseus did not incur her enmity. Odysseus stayed in Troy longer enough in Troy to sacrifice all the gods before setting out his small squadron of 12 ships back home. The weather favourable for Odysseus for awhile, but Odysseus was fated to take about ten years to reach his beloved Ithaca.
At first, Odysseus’ journey was favourable. But it wasn’t long before Odysseus incurred Poseidon’s implacable wrath. Odysseus had blinded his son, the Cyclops Polyphemus. The great sea god would make Odysseus wandered the sea for ten years before he was allowed to return home to Ithaca. Though he would perform great heroic feats in his adventure, he would suffer greatly, losing all his men and ships in his voyage home.
In Ithaca, before he was reunited with his wife Penelope and his son Telemachus, Odysseus would then have to outwit and kill his wife’s numerous suitors. See the Odyssey for Odysseus’ voyage.