Homer in his Iliad and Odyssey describes a ten-year war more than 3,000 years ago between the Greeks and Trojans after Paris stole Helen of Troy from Sparta. But lots of questions remain about this story. Who was Homer, and if he really lived, how trustworthy is his account? Was there really a Helen — and was she so beautiful that her face could “launch a thousand ships?” Could Achilles have nearly single-handedly beaten the Trojans? Did the Greeks really trick the Trojans using a big horse in which they hid? In the end we wonder: is there history behind the legends? Join Professor Bellitto as we dig–literally and metaphorically–meeting ancient bards, gods, and goddesses, and exploring a tale that was retold throughout the medieval and modern periods. We’ll even encounter an amateur archaeologist named Heinrich Schliemann who was part huckster, part canny promoter, and part P.T. Barnum!
Iliad and Odyssey, by Homer
(If you want to read the most famous sections: Lombardo, Stanley, trans. The Essential Homer)
Aeneid: Book Two, by Virgil
The Trojan Women, by Euripides (“Trial of Helen” — lines 860-1059)
The Archaeology of Greek and Roman Troy, by Charles Brian Rose
The Trojan War: A New History, by Barry Strauss
The Trojan War, by Carol G. Thomas and Craig Conant
In Search of the Trojan War, by Michael Wood
- What do you think is the lasting legacy of the Trojan War for today? Why do people still care?
- Do you think the Trojan War was an historical event?
- What does the discussion about Homer as an historical source contribute to the discussion today of reconstructing “what really happened” in the past?