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The Trojan War: A Very Short Introduction [#356]
The Trojan War: A Very Short Introduction [#356]
  • Brings together all of the evidence available from archaeology, Hittite texts, and Greek legend to investigate the question of whether the Trojan War was a real historical event and whether the site of ancient Troy has been found
  • Challenges the assumption that Helen's abduction was the cause of the war
  • Offers a concise yet original perspective on a timeless epic of love and war, rivalry and greed, heroes and cowards

Homer's tale of the abduction of Helen to Troy and the ten-year war to bring her back to Greece has fascinated mankind for centuries since he related it in The Iliad and The Odyssey. More recently, it has given rise to countless scholarly articles and books, extensive archaeological excavations, epic movies, television documentaries, stage plays, art and sculpture, even souvenirs and collectibles. However, while the ancients themselves thought that the Trojan War took place and was a pivotal event in world history, scholars during the Middle Ages and into the modern era derided it as a piece of fiction. 

This book investigates two major questions: did the Trojan War take place and, if so, where? It ultimately demonstrates that a war or wars in the vicinity of Troy probably did take place in some way, shape, or form during the Late Bronze Age, thereby forming the nucleus of the story that was handed down orally for centuries until put into essentially final form by Homer. However, Cline suggests that although a Trojan War (or wars) probably did take place, it was not fought because of Helen's abduction; there were far more compelling economic and political motives for conflict more than 3,000 years ago.

Aside from Homer, the book examines various classical literary sources: the Epic Cycle, a saga found at the Hittite capital of Hattusas, treatments of the story by the playwrights of classical Greece, and alternative versions or continuations of the saga such as Virgil's Aeneid, which add detail but frequently contradict the original story. Cline also surveys archaeological attempts to document the Trojan War through excavations at Hissarlik, Turkey, especially the work of Heinrich Schliemann and his successors Wilhelm Dörpfeld, Carl Blegen, and Manfred Korfmann. 
Reading Guide


List of illustrations


Part I. The Trojan War 
1 The story according to the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Epic Cycle
2 The war in historical context: Mycenaeans, Hittites, Trojans, and Sea Peoples

Part II. Investigating the Literary Evidence
3 Homeric questions: Did Homer exist and is the Iliad accurate?
4 The Hittite texts: Assuwa, Ahhiyawa, and Alaksandu of Wilusa

Part III. Investigating the archaeological evidence
5 Early excavators: Heinrich Schliemann and Wilhelm Dörpfeld
6 Returning to Hisarlik: Carl Blegen and Manfred Korfmann

Glossary: Characters and Places
Further reading

About the author: 

Eric H. Cline is Professor of Classics and Anthropology and chair of the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, as well as director of the Capitol Archaeological Institute at George Washington University. He is Co-Director of the ongoing excavations at Megiddo (biblical Armageddon) in Israel and the author of Biblical Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction, winner of the 2011 Biblical Archaeology Society Publication Award for the Best Popular Book on Archaeology.

Selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2013
"The author's writing is so clear and his arguments so well structured and complete that this book will appeal to both interested amateurs and those familiar with the extensive literature on this subject." -- D. A. Slane, CHOICE

"A concise, well written, highly informative guide to the legends, the history, and the archaeology of Homer's fabled city."-- Trevor Bryce, Honorary Research Consultant, University of Queensland, and Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities

Product details

ISBN : 9780199760275

Eric H. Cline
152 Pages
111 x 174 mm
Pub date
May 2013
Very Short Introductions
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The Trojan War: A Very Short Introduction [#356]

The Trojan War: A Very Short Introduction [#356]

The Trojan War: A Very Short Introduction [#356]