The Trojan War: Fact, Fiction, Reality & Myth

Christopher M. Bellitto
Christopher M. Bellitto
Kean University

Dr. Christopher M. Bellitto is Professor of History at Kean University in New Jersey, where he teaches courses in ancient and medieval history. A specialist in church history and reform, he is the author of ten books, a Fulbright Specialist at the University of Canterbury, and a Visiting Scholar at Princeton Theological Seminary.


September 12, 2022, 4:00 pm

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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!


Recommended Reading:

Iliad and Odyssey, by Homer

(If you want to read the most famous sections: Lombardo, Stanley, trans. The Essential Homer)

AeneidBook 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


Discussion Questions:

  1. What do you think is the lasting legacy of the Trojan War for today? Why do people still care?
  2. Do you think the Trojan War was an historical event?
  3. What does the discussion about Homer as an historical source contribute to the discussion today of reconstructing “what really happened” in the past?




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