I was surfing the web curious as to how many variations of Homer’s Iliad been made into a movie. What I found was surprising. A total of four movies; correction, three, one was a television series. Dickens’ Great Expectations, on the other hand, had seven movies and three television series created. I won’t even attempt Shakespeare’s works, it would be like the Roadrunner and Coyote episodes. Given that, some adaptations have been less than faithful to the original story, digressing so much the story is unrecognisable. Though to be fair, to write a script that fits into two hours to three maximum, would be a difficult task.
‘Well behaved women rarely make history.’
Imagine yourself sitting in a magnificent citadel and outside you can hear the roar of men as they charge at each other. The ringing of swords as they clash. The thunder of hooves as horse drawn chariots race across the plain of Troy. The whistling of arrows jettisoned into the air. The cries of men as they are stabbed, slashed, pierced and hacked. The ground covered with dead bodies. The stench of blood, urine and loosened bowels suffocates and billows into the air. Ten long years you have listened and watched the decimation of human life. What could you have done? What should have you done?
‘In peace, sons bury their fathers. In war, fathers bury their sons.’
How does one reconcile the loss of so many offspring, the destruction of their home and the death of their people? Such personal suffering could never be healed. These events litter the history books and still wars happen. Power, greed, the desire to dominate and subjugate, annihilate are the basic premises. The cost of innocent lives, homes, cultures and humanity don’t seem to be considered as long as the end result is achieved, however one gets there. For Priam, the last King of Troy, he witnessed the end.
The role of women in the Iliad is the central to the story, the war precipitated by the capture of a female of royal lineage along with untold wealth. From the beginning of the story, the tenth year of the war, the Greek forces are plagued with an incurable disease. How and why did it happen? Because of a woman. Female characters do feature throughout the story in one form or another and apart from Helen, one other created such havoc in the Greek camp, their champion and stalwart warrior refused to participate any further.
The notion of royalty being a part of the armed forces is not a new one and goes back thousands of years. Princes William and Harry are fulfilling a long line of royalty commitment to defence. Throughout history, there are written accounts of members of the royal family from the king to the prince/s that went to war. Some, as it were only in title but many did fight. It was their duty to lead. King Ramesses II led his legions of Egyptians during the most famous and propagandist battles of Kadesh, blazing across the desert on his chariot. The kings of the Greek city-states led their men and the leaders of the Trojan allies were commanded by kings and/or princes. One, however, was notable for his prowess as a warrior akin to Hektor was also the founding father of Rome.
Wars are won or lost on a number of strategic factors: the greatest fighters, a well-equipped army, ferocious weaponry, and a well thought out ploy. Given these all played out on the plain of Troy another major element was integral in the final outcome of the war. Each side had allies, whereas the Akhaians were predominantly Greek, the Trojans bolstered their numbers from neighbouring states, empires with whom they had trade treaties.
An ally is:
• A state formally cooperating with another for a military or other purpose.
Ally something to/with
• Combine or unite a resource or commodity with (another) for mutual benefit.
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Five stories, five women, five legends.
Phaedra, a Minoan princess, marries out of duty and to safeguard her precious home. She falls in love with Hippolytos, her husband’s son and asks the Goddess Aphrodite for help. He spurns her affections.
The Trojan War, one of history’s greatest stories ever told. What if the legend as told is wrong? History is told by the victors, and facts changed to twist the truth. Is it possible Helen of Sparta never went to Troy?
Hera, Queen of the Gods, is the most powerful goddess on Mount Olympos. For the first time ever in a candid interview, Hera shares what it’s like to be a goddess and wife to Zeus, the King of the Gods.
Created by the gods as a gift to humanity, Pandora is the first woman on Earth. Did she know what Zeus intended when he presented an urn as a wedding dowry to her husband? Neither she nor Epimetheus knew what it contained, but they were told never to open it.
All Medousa wanted was a life of love and acceptance but one fateful night it changed. While she’s alone in the Temple of Athene tending to the sacred fire, Poseidon pays a visit. No human can stop an immortal from taking what they want.
‘You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbour’s.’
The Ten Commandments, Exodus 20:2-17
When it comes to infidelity, there will be always the one who’d been wronged and they’ll want retribution. After all, they have been morally and emotionally offended by the betrayal. And who can blame them? In the case of the King of Sparta, it was never made clear whether his wife was abducted or had left of her own accord. Regardless of how or why, justice was sought with the combined armed forces of Greece. Whether Helen was innocent in this whole epic affair was not a consideration, she was blamed for ‘leaving’ her husband and baby daughter.
A subscriber of my e-Bulletin emailed me some months back to let me know about a new television series produced by BBC called Atlantis, based on Greek mythology. It follows the adventures of three friends Jason, Hercules and Pythagoras in the mythical city Atlantis. The stories blend a variety of Greek myths and though many are chronologically out of context, I must admit to enjoying the series.
For ten long years’ war raged between the Greeks and Trojans with no end in sight. Each side equally matched, both in valour and skilled fighters. It was the era of the golden age, men with a status of demi-gods and many others favoured by the immortals. The war won with a trick, a ruse which duped the Trojans and sealed their fate. Hektor’s funeral marks the conclusion of the Iliad, there’s no mention of how and who wins the conflict. Yet how it was won has become part of the story’s lore. It is also why many people believe Homer is not the author of both the Iliad and Odyssey. Those who have been following my blog know what my thoughts are and new readers may refer back to the post.