April 24: On this day in 1184 BC, Troy, fell according to traditionally accepted historical occurrences. The widely known war was fought due to Prince Paris of Troy kidnapping King Menelaus’ bride, Helen, universally believed to be the most beautiful woman on earth.
Story is, after it was learned that she ran off with Paris back to Troy, Menelaus called his brother Agamemnon, King of Mycenae, to join Greek forces to take her back by force, after all diplomatic efforts collapsed.
The whole fighting is said to have lasted for 10 years with both Greeks and Trojans suffering extensive casualties.
Many heroes died over the years and Homer describes the battles and the remarkable loss of their lives in the most graphic and thrilling way. In the final stages of the war, Achilles died from an arrow targeted to the heel by Paris, while King Priam of Troy was killed as well.
The Greeks were greater in numbers but couldn’t clearly understand why the walls of Troy remained unbeatable and withstood countless invasions through the city’s long history. The war seemed to be heading to a dead end with no victory, too many losses and both armies being too tired to remain active.
A turning point in the story came when the Greek army retreated back to their ships, seemingly defeated, but left a large wooden horse outside the gates of Troy – apparently as a gift to Poseidon.
The Trojans didn’t see the threat and after much debate decided to pull the unexpected gift into their city. The Horse was too big, though, so a large part of the fortification had to be demolished for it to pass through. In the middle of the night a hidden trapdoor at the horses belly opened, letting out a group of Greeks, led by Odysseus. After giving the signal for the Greek fleet to return they began ransacking the city. The rest of the Greeks joined them through the demolished walls.
The fall of Troy and the war were described by Homer in the Iliad and the Odyssey. The amazing descriptions and tales that he gives come definitely short of being considered a reliable historical source but in any case both epics emerge as marvelous readings that spur our fantasies about heroes, Gods, battles and stunning places. The clear extent to which it reflects actual historical events is not known.
The site of Troy was rediscovered by archaeologists in the 19th century in what is now western Turkey.
Cover Photo Credit: gloria_euyoque