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The Trojan War: All From a Single Apple

Updated on May 3, 2014
The Judgment of Paris
The Judgment of Paris | Source

The Judgment of Paris: Should Have Invited Her to the Wedding

The wedding of Thetis and Peleus was godly in the making. How this union came about is a story in and of itself. Thetis was a sea nymph that both Zeus and Poseidon had fallen in love with, but her love came with a terrible prophecy. The son born to Thetis would become greater than his own father. This prophecy was enough to scare away both gods, and Zeus sought to marry Thetis off to a mortal king named Peleus.

All of the gods and goddesses were invited to the wedding of Thetis and Peleus with the exception of one, Eris, the goddess of strife and rivalry. Certainly no one would want the disagreeable Eris at such a joyous event as a wedding, but this did not stop Eris from attending. When she was sent away, she left but not before tossing in a special gift. A golden apple, the Apple of Discord, engraved with the words For the Fairest. Of course, the vain goddesses all claimed the apple for themselves, and an argument started between three of them; Hera, Queen of the Gods, Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty, and Athena, goddess of wisdom and warfare.

The ladies would never be able to settle this dispute by themselves, so they went to Zeus for a decision. Zeus was no idiot. He knew he could not win judging a beauty contest that included his own wife, Hera, and daughter, Athena, so he selected a mortal for the task. Paris, a prince of Troy, was at the wedding and given the 'honor' of awarding the apple. The ladies now begin to bribe the young prince in order to win his vote. Hera promised that if he chose her, Paris would become the king of all mortal men. Athena promised the young prince would always be victorious in battle if she were awarded the apple. Aphrodite promised him the hand of the most beautiful mortal woman should she be judged the most beautiful. Paris considered the offers and finally gave Aphrodite the golden apple.

Leda and the Swan
Leda and the Swan | Source

Leda and the Swan: The Most Beautiful Woman in the World

Now you are wondering exactly who was the most beautiful mortal woman in the world? By all accounts, she was a young woman named Helen, and she had a very special birth story. Helen's mother was a mortal woman named Leda and she was married to the King of Sparta. One night, after leaving her husband's bedside, Leda came upon a beautiful swan (Zeus in disguise). Because she mated with her husband and the swan on the same night, Leda produced two eggs from which two boys and two girls were born. Her daughter Clytemnestra and son Castor were children of her husband, Tyndareus. Helen and her brother Pollux were the children of Zeus.

There was only one problem with Paris being given Helen of Sparta's hand as Aphrodite promised. Helen was already married. Many kings from around the region had sought the hand of the beautiful Helen, and her mortal father Tyndareus feared retaliation from those not selected. He made each man swear an oath to defend the winner for life. When they all agreed, hoping it would be them, Tyndareus gave Helen's hand to Menelaus then abdicated his throne and named Menelaus and Helen the rulers of Sparta.

By all accounts, Helen was happy with her husband, but when Paris went to Sparta to collect his prize, Aphrodite's son Eros (Cupid to the Romans), accompanied him. Helen's natural love for her husband would be no match for the power of one of Eros's arrows. Helen agreed to leave her husband and children to return with Paris to Troy. From that moment on, she was known as Helen of Troy.

Menelaus Calls For Help: Odysseus Goes Mad

Menelaus was King of Sparta. He was not the type of man to let his wife run off with another man and do nothing about it. Although Sparta had the most fearsome fighting force of all the city-states, he knew he could not defeat Troy and their wall alone. He wanted his fellow kings, most of which had vied for the hand of Helen years before, to fight with him. They swore an oath to defend Menelaus and now he was going to need them. He called upon his brother Agamemnon, King of Mycenae, and the two of them went to convince Odysseus, King of Ithaca, to join them. Odysseus, once a suitor of Helen himself, had since married Penelope and was the father of a son, Telemachus. It was actually Odysseus's suggestion that all suitors swear an oath to the winner of Helen's hand. Now that Menelaus had come to collect on that oath, Odysseus, not wanting to leave his wife and infant son, pretended to be mad. He started to plough a field and plant salt. When a companion of the two kings, Palamedes, placed Odysseus's infant son in front of the plough to the force the king to show his sanity, Odysseus agreed to help as he had promised years before.

Odysseus had heard a prophecy that the Greeks could not win a war against the Trojans without the help of a warrior who was hidden among the daughters of King Lycomedes of Scyros. Once he agreed to help Menelaus, he set out to retrieve the hero. It took some cunning, but Odysseus was successful in gaining that heroes pledge to fight. Odysseus then took Menelaus to attempt a diplomatic return of Helen. The two kings were treated hospitably but denied Helen.

Thetis dips Achilles in the River Styx
Thetis dips Achilles in the River Styx | Source
Odysseus Locates Achilles with Daughters of Lycmedes
Odysseus Locates Achilles with Daughters of Lycmedes | Source

Brave Achilles: A Swim in the Styx and Dressed Like a Girl

The Trojan War was an epic ten-year battle, but the entire story from the wedding at which the goddesses competed for the golden Apple of Discord to the destruction of Troy occurred over decades. We know this because a young warrior, who is vital to the Trojan War story, had not been born at the time Aphrodite promised Helen to Paris as the beauty contest between the goddesses took place at the wedding of his own parents. We also know that this warrior's own son was prophesied to play a role in finally ending the war.

Achilles was the son of King Peleus and Thetis, the sea nymph. As her son was born mortal, Thetis feared his death because of a prophecy she had received that said he would die in a great war if he went to fight. Thetis took steps to transform him into an immortal, so she would never lose him. One step in this process was to secretly take her boy to the River Styx, the mythic river of hate that separated the world of the living from the Underworld of Hades. The waters of the Styx were so destructive that they were used to punish anyone, including the gods, who swore an oath on her waters and then broke it. The rainbow goddess, Iris, carried a pitcher of water from the river and force oath breakers to drink. According to Hesiod, mortals would die from drinking the river's water while gods would lie in a coma for a year then remain barred from Olympus for nine more. Thetis, however, believed that such powerful waters would give her son immortality. She gripped her baby by his heal and dipped him into the river.

Once she returned home with the child, who miraculously survived, she covered him in the oil of the gods and placed him on a fire in an attempt to burn away whatever mortal part of him remained. She was caught in the act, however, by her husband, Peleus, who assumed she'd gone mad and was trying to kill their son. Thetis fled and did not return for many years. Peleus, who was old when he married Thetis, now worried how he could raise his son by himself. He decided to take the boy to be raised by his own immortal grandfather, Chiron, the centaur. Chiron was famed for having trained other heroes like Herakles, Jason and Apollo's son Asclepius.

A few years later when it appeared that the Trojan War was inevitable, Thetis, still fearing the prophecy of her son's death if he joined the battle, took him to Scyros and dressed him as girl to hide him. While Achilles was hiding in Scyros, he became intimate with Deidamia, one of the daughters of King Lycomedes with whom the boy was hiding. Odysseus learned that the young boy was hiding among Lycomedes daughters and established a plan to draw out the boy knowing he was vital to the Greek victory. He pretended to be a merchant and displayed many trinkets and jewels on a table. When one young girl took more interest in the sword that was lying off to itself, Odysseus knew he had found Achilles. Achilles then agreed to go to war with the other son's of Greece leaving the young Deidamia in Scyros expecting their son, Neoptolemus.

The Face That Launched a Thousand Ships: Take One

It was not an easy start for the Greeks. They agreed to meet at Aulis, a coastal city not far from Thebes. All of the original suitors of Helen arrived with the exception of one. The king of Cyprus was the only no show though he sent armor and promised fifty ships. The others knew better than to expect more help , however, when one ship arrived with forty-nine clay ships on board, so much for an oath. Young Achilles, who by most accounts was now fifteen, was the last to arrive.

The mere fact that Achilles was fifteen years old is an indication that nothing happened quickly in the ancient world, but what happened to the forces once they reached Aulis, gave them an indication of just how difficult this battle was going to be. In an attempt to gain favor with the archer god, Apollo, the men gathered to make a sacrificial offering to him. Once the ceremony was complete, a giant snake appeared on the altar, slithered to a tree and devoured a nest full of birds, a mother and nine babies. A seer, or fortuneteller, told the men that this was a sign from the gods that it would be ten years of battle before Troy would fall, as there were ten birds in the nest. This did not detour the men.

Unfortunately, the Greeks had no idea where they were going, despite the fact that Odysseus and Menelaus had previously gone to Troy on the diplomatic mission to return Helen. They landed in Mysia and apparently started fighting without even knowing this was the wrong place. Mysia was ruled by Telephus, one of the many sons of Heracles, and he was doing a pretty decent job holding off the invaders until Dionysus, god of wine, caused him to trip over a grapevine giving Achilles a chance to wound him with his spear. This wound ended up being particularly nasty though not fatal. After some time, when the wound had not healed, he sought advice from an oracle, someone who tells prophecies. The oracle said that the wound could only be healed by the person who caused it, which was Achilles. Achilles, however, claimed he had no medical training and would not try. This is just one sign of Achilles famous temper showing, as Achilles had been raised by Chiron who was not only a well-known healer himself but also the teacher of Asclepius, the mortal son of Apollo who would become the god of medicine. When Achilles would not change his mind, Odysseus took matters into his own hands. While I do not recommend anyone try this today, Odysseus decided that the spear must be the key and flaked rust from Achilles's spear into the wound. Miraculously, the wound healed, and Telephus told the men the route to Troy. In what a reasonable person would take as a sign from the gods that this battle was a bad idea, as soon as the men set out again, they were scattered by a storm.

Source

The Face That Launched a Thousand Ships: Take Two

Most men would have given up at this point, but eight years after the fleet was scattered by the storm, they all agreed to return to Aulis and try again. According to Homer, this refusal to give up was the result of Zeus trying to reduce the number of mortals to a more manageable number. Regardless of the reason, legend says the fleet had grown to 1200 ships on the second attemp. The total man count varies, depending on the teller, but it was estimated at 130,000 men going to retrieve one woman who is now more than 20 years older than when she was taken.

The Trojans, knowing battle was still possible, had been gathering allies as well. Most of these came from the Asian side of the Aegean Sea, including Mysia. I guess Telephus did not appreciate the way the Greeks treated him eight years early. An exact count of the Trojan fighting force is unknown, but clearly, Zeus would have his great death count from both sides of the Aegean.


Sacrifice of Iphigenia
Sacrifice of Iphigenia | Source

Before they could set out for Troy this time, Agamemnon, the brother of Menelaus who was selected to lead the Greeks in battle, either killed a dear sacred to the goddess Artemis or boasted of being her equal in hunting. The story varies again depending on who is telling it. In either case, Artemis was not happy. She set the winds against Agamemnon and completely stilled the seas. Without the aid of the winds to move the ships, the Greeks were stuck in the harbor. When suggested that the only way to appease the goddess of the hunt was to sacrifice Agamemnon's own daughter, Iphigenia. Odysseus and Diomedes, King of Argos, went after the girl. Of course, she would never have agreed to come if she knew why she was going to Aulis, so the men told her she was to marry Achilles. During the sacrificial ceremony, however, Artemis appeared and took the girl from the altar forcing the men to sacrifice a local girl instead. This was great for Iphigenia but not so great for the local girl. Artemis was now satisfied and allowed the ships to sail.

It was not a quick and easy trip to Troy for the Greeks. They made stops for supplies along the way and things happened. On the island of Chryse, Philoctetes, a dear friend of Heracles, was bitten by a snake and left behind. At Tenedo, a city on the Trojan side of the war, Achilles, according to some, had taken a liking to the king's sister, but the king, Tenes, stopped him from having her. Achilles killed the king, who just happened to be the son of Apollo. His mother had warned him not to do it or Apollo would kill him, but Achilles temper won out.

While the rest of the fleet waited at Tenedo, Agamemnon sent Menelaus, Odysseus and Palamedes once more to ask Priam, King of Troy and father of Paris, for a peaceful return of Helen. Again they were turn away empty handed.

The Battle Begins: First Greek Out of the Boat Dies

Considering how much we know about the events leading up to and after the war, we know very little of the first nine years of battle. The story of arrival on Trojan soil, however, does warrant telling. It appears that the same prophet that told of the ten years of fighting had warned that the first Greek to set foot on Trojan land would be the first Greek killed. For this reason, no one wanted to be the first to get off their ship. It was Odysseus that finally tricked Protesilaus, the leader of several legions from Thessely, into being the first. It is told that Odysseus threw his shield on the ground and told Protesilaus that if he stepped on the shield it would not count as Trojan land. Protesilaus agreed and was promptly killed by Hector, son of King Priam and leader of the Trojan forces.

The touching part of the story of Protesilaus's death is actually what happened when his wife learned of his death. She begged the gods to let her spend just three hours with her husband. The gods agreed, and Hermes, whose duty it was to ensure the dead reached the Underworld, brought Protesilaus to speak with his wife, Laodameia. It is said then when the three hours were up, she too died and returned with her husband to Hades.

Menelaus, upon taking land at Troy, spotted Paris and went after him causing Paris to run in fear. After his brother, Hector, chewed him out for causing the battle in the first place then being a coward, he ordered Paris to be a man and go face Menelaus. Paris agreed to fight the Spartan king for Helen, but when Menelaus defeated him, Aphrodite removed him from the fight and returned him to Helen, and the war continued.

All we really know about the first nine years of battle is that Troy quickly lost control of the beach and retreated. The Greeks split up and went after them. The entire Greek fighting force would not be united again until the tenth year of fighting arrived. We do, however, know of many of the individual escapades of the war.

Achilles Slays Hector
Achilles Slays Hector | Source

Achilles: Bravest of Them All

Achilles, who had been foretold of greatness and had the support of Athena and Hera, lived up to the hype. He was by far the most aggressive. He personally led battles that conquered thirty-three cities of the Trojan allies, but when Agamemnon was forced to return his captive love interest, he insisted that Achilles hand over his own love slave, Briseis. Athena convinced Achilles to give up Briseis, but he refused to continue fighting. His mother Thetis then went to Zeus and got him to agree that unless and until the Greeks honored her son, the Trojans would start winning the war.

The tide did turn for the Trojans to the point that Agamemnon ordered retreat, but the other leaders insisted that Briseis be returned to Achilles, along with other gifts, to convince him to start fighting again. Despite all the begging, Achilles refused to return to battle, but did agree to give his armor and horses, which happened to be immortal sons of Zephyrus the god of the west wind, to his best friend Patroclus who lead Achilles's men back into battle. Patroclus was successful for some time in driving back the Trojans, but eventually Apollo drove Patroclus insane and Hector killed him then took the armor. The Greeks and Trojan then fought over the body of Patroclus. Eventually the Greeks retrieved it and returned it to Achilles who vowed revenge for his friend's death. Being as Achilles was now without armor, his mother went to Hephaestus, the blacksmith god, and requested he make a new set for her son. It was said to be the greatest armor ever made for a mortal. Achilles then returned to the fight and killed many Trojans before he finally caught up to Hector. He chased the son of Priam around the walls of Troy three times before he finally killed him then dragged him back to where Patroclus's body laid. While Achilles was burning his best friend on a funeral pyre, Priam personally came to him and asked for his son, Hector's, body. Achilles let him take it.

Achilles went on to fall in love with Polyxena, the sister of Paris and Hector, and was prepared to marry her when Paris appeared and killed him, with a lot of help by Apollo who is said to have guided the poisoned arrow to the one vulnerable spot on the great hero, the heal by which his mother had dipped him into the River Styx.

The Triumph of Achilles
The Triumph of Achilles | Source
The Suicide of Ajax
The Suicide of Ajax | Source

Ajax: Second to One

Ajax, the son of Telamon King of Salamis, was another great hero considered second only to Achilles. It is said that when Heracles visited Salamis during the childhood of Ajax, he prayed to his father Zeus to protect the child. Like Achilles, Ajax fought and won many battles against the Trojans including several against Hector himself. One story tells that Hector called out for the best fighter the Greeks had to offer. Ajax stepped up and killed every Trojan placed before him until only Hector remained. Hector then shook with fear. Ajax attacked Hector and took him to the ground, but the warriors were pulled apart before Ajax could finish him off. Hector then exchanged weapons with Ajax as a sign of respect for his abilities. Ajax was among the Greeks that fought for the body of Patroclus and put out the fires when the Greek fleet was set ablaze.

It is said that upon the death of Achilles, Thetis requested that her son's armor be given to the greatest Greek hero. It came down to a fight between Odysseus and Ajax, but Athena convinced Agamemnon to give it to her favorite, Odysseus, which drove Ajax insane. He killed himself with Hector's sword driving it into his armpit which was his only vulnerable spot.

Diomedes with the Palladium
Diomedes with the Palladium | Source

Diomedes: Attacker of the Gods

Diomedes was also counted among the Greek heroes at Troy. Having the blessing of Athena and wearing a breastplate made by Hephaestus, he was fierce in battle despite being the youngest king to fight for the return of Helen. In addition to his actions leading up to the war that made a battle possible, like retrieving the daughter of Agamemnon for the sacrifice to Artemis, during the war, Diomedes proved to be skilled in strategy. He and Odysseus were the only ones that attempted spy campaigns against Troy. It was the two of them that found a secret drain tunnel under the walls by which they entered the city and stole the Palladium. The Palladium was a statue of the goddess Athena, and a prophecy warned that Troy would not fall as long as the treasure remained inside the walls.

Diomedes killed many Trojan warriors in combat, but when he faced Aeneas, son of Aphrodite, in battle, Athena gave him another gift, the ability to see the immortal gods. Along with the gift came a warning from the goddess of wisdom and warfare. She told him never to use the gift against any immortal except Aphrodite, whom the goddess still despised for winning the Apple of Discord. During this battle, Diomedes used both his cunning and strength. He and one companion, Sthenelus, stood against Aeneas, his one companion Pandarus, Aeneas's horses, which were descendents of Zeus's immortal steeds and Aphrodite who was visible only to Diomedes. Pandarus struck first by throwing his spear at Diomedes while shouting a boast about killing the son of Tydeus. Diomedes, wounded only in the arm, shot back and, with the help of Athena, struck the warrior between the eyes. Aeneas quickly moved to shield the body of his friend afraid the horses would drag it away. Diomedes then had his companion take the horses and flee leaving just the two men and Aphrodite. Diomedes grabbed a rock that, according to Homer, should have taken two men to lift, and threw it at the son of Aphrodite. It landed breaking the warrior's hip. Aphrodite then grabbed her son and started to flee. Diomedes grabbed a spear and hurled it at the goddess ripping through her arm. When she collapsed, Apollo quickly came and took Aeneas to spare his life, but not before Diomedes attacked the god.


Diomedes Fights Aeneas
Diomedes Fights Aeneas | Source

Diomedes returned to Troy with Aeneas's horses where Ares was waiting for him. Diomedes saw this and had the men withdraw. Athena and Hera then intercepted on the part of the Greeks with Athena at first giving her favored hero a hard time about not heading her warning about hurting no immortal but Aphrodite. When he assured her that he would not go to battle against Ares directly, the goddess then told him she had his back against the war god, jumped in the chariot with him and drove it straight for her brother, Ares. Athena donned the Helm of Darkness, making herself invisible even to other gods, and swatted Ares spear away from Diomedes when the war god attacked. Diomedes then shoved his spear at Ares stomach and Athena threw her weight behind it to drive it in deep. Ares cried out so loudly that everyone on the battlefield withdrew even though they could not see from where the sound came. Ares then fled to Olympus where his own father, Zeus, told him to go whine somewhere else.

In an act of cunning, Diomedes faced a warrior name Glaucus who offered to fight him one on one. Diomedes thought the man looked a little too impressive and asked if he were an immortal in disguise. He vowed to fight no more immortals despite Athena saying she had his back. Glaucus then explained that his grandfather was the great Bellerophon, son of Poseidon and slayer of the Chimera. Diomedes then explained that their grandfathers had been friends and therefore they must also be friends. He suggested the two men exchange suits of armor as a show of respect. Of course, the armor Diomedes gave Glaucus was made of bronze and the one he gained in return was made of gold.

In another act of bravery, Diomedes was the only one to turned back to save Nestor when Zeus drove the other gods away and strengthened the Trojans. With Nestor driving the chariot, the two men went after Hector killing his driver on the first pass. When they came around again and it was clear that both Hector and his new driver would be killed by Diomedes, Zeus sent a bolt of lightning to land between them. Nestor insisted they turn back and not go against Zeus, but Diomedes was afraid Hector would claim Diomedes was afraid of him. Nestor finally turned the chariot around at which point Hector called Diomedes a woman. At this Diomedes thought about turning around many times, but each time Zeus let go a lightning bolt and stopped him.

The Farewell of Hector to Andromaque and Astyanax
The Farewell of Hector to Andromaque and Astyanax | Source

Hector: Hero of Troy

Hector was by far the best of the Trojan warriors. As the oldest son of Priam, he lead the entire Trojan fighting forces against the Greeks despite being angry at his own brother Paris for taking Helen in the first place. It was Hector that killed Protesilaus, the first Greek to set foot on Trojan land.

Of course, Hector was not fighting without the help of the gods. Aphrodite using her powers of persuasion on Ares, her lover and the god of war, convinced him to fight at the side of Hector. During one fight, however, when Diomedes wounded Ares causing the god to flee the battle in pain, Hector ran to his mother, Hecabe, and begged her to pray to Athena for help. His mother's cries fell upon deaf ears.

After seeing to his wife and son, who feared it fate that he would be lost to the Greeks, he ran back to battle and called for the bravest of Greeks to fight. It was Hector that killed Patroclus and took the armor of Achilles. He set fire to many of the Greek ships, and it was only Achilles that had the power to kill him.

Prophecy for the End: Helenus Spills His Guts

Wanting to return to their homes, the Greeks looked to the prophecies that told of the requirements for ending the war and sought to retrieve them. The first was the bow of Heracles, which was left with Philoctetes when he suffered the snakebite. Odysseus and Diomedes went to find Philoctetes who had since healed. He returned with them to Troy and used the bow and arrows of Heracles to kill Paris. With Paris dead, two of his remaining brothers fought over Helen. When Deiphobus won, Helenus left Troy. The seer, Calchas, claimed that Helenus knew what it took to defeat Troy, so Odysseus stopped him. After a little rough "persuasion", he told them they would need the bones of Pelops, Neoptolemus, son of Achilles, and the Palladium.

Why the Greeks would need the bones of Pelops is not understood, but it is important to know who the man was. Born the son of King Tantalus and grandson of Zeus, it was Pelops who was dismembered and cooked into a stew then served to the immortal gods by his own father. The gods knew immediately what it was and refused to eat. After Hermes, the messenger god, retrieved all of the bones, the gods restored the young man's life. It is said that the Peloponnesian peninsula in Greece was named for him. According to legend, the Greeks sent for the bones, but the ship carrying them was lost at sea on its return to Troy.

Odysseus went to find Neoptolemus, who was hiding in his grandfather's court just as his father had years before. When Odysseus gave the boy his father's armor, he agreed to go to Troy and fight.

As noted before, Odysseus and Diomedes went on spy expeditions inside Troy. The two were able to capture the statue of Athena known as the Palladium. This meant that the Greeks had everything they needed to finally defeat the Trojans.

The Trojan Horse
The Trojan Horse | Source

The Trojan Horse: Beware Greeks Bearing Gifts

It was a brilliant idea that Athena gave to Odysseus.

  1. Build a giant horse, an animal sacred to the Trojans

  2. Make them think it is a peace offering

  3. Hide several men inside to wait until the gift is moved into the city

  4. Let the Trojans, believing they have won, relax and party

  5. Sneak out and let the remaining Greeks inside the walls of the city

  6. Kill everyone.

Athena then visited Epeius in his dreams and told him how to build the horse then offered her assistance in the building. In three days, the "gift" was completed.

Of course, the gods who fought on the side of the Trojans knew what was happening. Many even attempted to stop Athena. Ares charged his sister and the two fell to the ground fighting one another, causing earthquakes so strong even the Titan's in Tartarus felt the trembling. In Olympus, other gods and goddesses took to fighting as well. It was not until Themis, the Titaness of order, seeing that Zeus was returning from his travels, warned the others to stop fighting or face their father's wrath that the gods ceased their fighting.

Even after several of the Greeks, including Odysseus, Menelaus and Diomedes, hid inside the large wooden horse and the remaining Greeks burned their tents and sailed away, many inside Troy warned that the gift was a trick. Cassandra was a woman sought after by Apollo, the god of prophecy. Many times she turned him away until he promised to give her the gift of prophecy. He, being so determined to have her, agreed and gave her the gift. When she still rebuffed his advances, he cursed her as well by making it so that no one would ever believe one of her prophecies. When she warned the Trojans throughout the war, everyone, including her father, King Priam, thought she was a raving lunatic. Laocoon, a priest of Apollo, also tried to warn the Trojans that the horse was a trick and should not be brought inside the city walls. Despite his warnings, the Trojans starting moving the horse inside the walls while Laocoon attempted to make a sacrifice to Poseidon. Laocoon and his sons were then swallowed by two giant sea serpents.

That night, just as the Greeks had hoped, the Trojans rejoiced in their victory to the point of exhaustion and passing out drunk. The Greeks hiding inside the Trojan Horse then came out and started killing the city guards allowing the remaining Greek fleet, who had sailed back during the evening, inside the walls to finish off the people of Troy.



Neoptolemus with Hector's Wife and Son
Neoptolemus with Hector's Wife and Son | Source

Odysseus and Menelaus were the first two out of the horse and went straight to the house of Deiphobus, the brother of Paris who married Helen upon his brother's death. Deiphobus was murdered by Menelaus, but a group of both Trojans and Greeks had gathered around Helen preparing to stone her to death for all the trouble she had brought to both sides. Menelaus stopped them by declaring that since she was his wife, it was his right to kill her, but she disrobed in front of him causing him to drop his sword. He was so taken by her beauty once again that he returned her to his ship and returned with her to Sparta.

Neoptolemus killed King Priam who was praying at the altar of Zeus. He then sought out Polyxena, the king's daughter and the woman who tricked his father into a wedding for the purpose of allowing her brother Paris to kill him. He sacrificed her on his father's grave then took Andromache, the widow of Hector, as a prize. Hector's son was thrown from the walls of Troy to ensure the end of the ruling Trojan line.

Ajax the Lesser Raping Cassandra on Athena's Throne
Ajax the Lesser Raping Cassandra on Athena's Throne | Source

Cassandra was raped on Athena's altar by Ajax of Locris and was then given to Agamemnon as a spoil of war, though his wife Clytemnestra, sister of Helen, killed her when he brought her home from the war.

Hecabe, Priam's wife and mother of nineteen of his children including Hector, Paris, Polyxena and Cassandra, was awarded to Odysseus, but she eventually went mad over the loss of so many of her children. She was eventually turned into a dog by Hecate, the goddess of magic, to put her out of her suffering.

Aeneas Flees Troy
Aeneas Flees Troy | Source

Aeneas, son of Aphrodite, collected his family and carrying his father fled from the city with some of his followers. The stories of how he escaped the city varies greatly, but what is known is what happened once he got away eventually landing at Latinus in what is now Italy. It was a descendent of Aeneas, Rhea Silvia, who gave birth to the twins, Remus and Romulus, the founders of Rome, to Mars who is known to the Greeks as Ares. Both Julius Ceasar and Ceasar Augustus claimed to be descendents of Aeneas.

The Long Trip Home: Murder, Betrayal and Other Issues

After the destruction of Troy, the Greeks took their spoils of war and set off for home, but their actions in Troy had angered the gods. Poseidon agreed to make the trip home difficult even impossible for some, and those who made it home faced other dangers.

Nestor, who had performed honorably throughout the war and took no part in the destruction of the city, was the only Greek to return home safely and live out a long happy life.

Menelaus was one of the first to leave Troy with Helen on board his ship, but storms blew him to the coast of Egypt. He wondered there for eight years before finally returning to Sparta with Helen.

Agamemnon, with his prize Cassandra, faced storms on the way home but did eventually arrive only to find that in his 10+ year absence, his wife Clytemnestra had taken a new husband, Aegisthus. The two of them murdered Agamemnon and Cassandra within a short period of time.

Diomedes's trip home was difficult thanks to Aphrodite, but he still had the favor of Athena. He was nearly sacrificed to Ares but managed to escape. He returned home, Argos, to find his wife living with another man, thanks to Aphrodite. He gave up his throne and went to his grandfather's home. From there the stories differ but most have him living a long life.

Odysseus had the most famous trip home, see the Odyssey. Over ten years, he battled giants, a Cyclops son of Poseidon and a sorceress who turned his men into pigs. He had to choose between the Scylla and Charybdis, had to make a trip to the Underworld, was stranded on a deserted island with a beautiful woman then on his return home, had to compete against other suitors for his wife Penelope.

In the end, it seems the only one who truly got what they wanted was Zeus. Thousands of the strongest and bravest warriors on both sides of the Aegean Sea were lost to the war.

Odysseus and Polyphemus
Odysseus and Polyphemus | Source

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