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The Sequence of Major Events in the Trojan War

And the Lineage of the Ancient Greeks

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The Judgment of Paris by Lucas Cranach the Elder (c. 1528).

The Judgment of Paris by Lucas Cranach the Elder (c. 1528).

Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Trojan War > Major Events

The Trojan Horse

The Gift That Ended a Decade of War

The ancient Greeks traced their history to mythological events and their genealogy to the gods and goddesses. Perhaps the most pivotal event in the early history of ancient Greece was the Trojan War. This is that most famous of ancient wars that the Greeks ended with a trick gift. No, this wasn't a candle you can't blow out or a cube with colors to be arranged in an impossible pattern, or even some miscreant's program for your computer, but it was still a trick. We call it the Trojan Horse.

The Blind Bard Homer
The Author of The Iliad and The Odyssey

We know about the Trojan War primarily from the works of a poet we call Homer (the Iliad and the Odyssey), as well as stories told in other ancient literature. known as the Epic Cycle.

The Judgment of Paris

Goddesses Set the Trojan War in Motion

According to ancient, non-eye-witness reports, a conflict among the goddesses started the Trojan War. This conflict led to the famous story of Paris [known as "The Judgment of Paris"] awarding a golden apple to the goddess Aphrodite.

In return for Paris' judgment, Aphrodite promised Paris the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen. This world-class Greek beauty is known as "Helen of Troy" and called "the face that launched a thousand ships". Perhaps it didn't matter to the gods -- especially the goddess of love -- whether Helen was already taken, but for mere mortals it did. Unfortunately, Helen was already married. She was the wife of King Menelaus of Sparta.

Paris Abducts Helen

Discussed in more detail in connection with Odysseus, who was one of the leaders of the Greek (Achaean) side of the Trojan War, is the importance of hospitality in the ancient world. [Summary: While Odysseus was away, suitors abused the hospitality of Odysseus' wife and household, while Odysseus relied on the hospitality of strangers to survive his 10-year odyssey home.] Without certain standards of expected behavior on the part of host and visitor, anything could happen, as, indeed, it did when the Trojan prince Paris, a guest of Menelaus, stole from his host.

The Unbreakable Promise

Now, Menelaus had been aware of the possibility that his wife, Helen, would be snatched from him. Helen had been snatched before their marriage, by Theseus, and she had been courted by almost all the Achaean leaders. When Menelaus finally won the hand of Helen, he (and Helen's father) extracted a promise from all the other suitors that they would come to his aid should Helen be taken away again. It was on the basis of this promise that Agamemnon, acting on brother Menelaus' behalf, was able to coerce the Achaeans to join forces with him and his brother, and sail against the Asian city-state of Troy to win back Helen.

Trojan War Draft Dodgers

Agamemnon had trouble rounding up the men. Odysseus feigned madness. Achilles tried to pretend he was a woman. But Agamemnon saw through Odysseus' ruse and Odysseus tricked Achilles into revealing himself, and so, all the leaders who had promised to join, did so. Each leader brought his own troops, weapons, and ships. They all stood poised to sail at Aulis....

Next: Trojan War - The Curse of the House of Atreus, 10 Years of Battle in the Trojan War, Ending the Trojan War - The Trojan Horse

More Trojan War Resources


Achilles (Greek)
Agamemnon (Greek)
Hector (Trojan)
Helen of Troy
Menelaus (Greek)
Odysseus (Greek)
Paris (Trojan)
Patroclus (Greek)
Tale of Troy or The Iliad of Homer
Review of the Movie Troy

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