ABSTRACT

Homer’s version of the Trojan War is familiar enough. Paris, the son of Priam king of Troy, has abducted Helen, wife of Menelaus king of Laconia. The Achaeans (Greeks from all the kingdoms of central and southern Greece) plan to sack Troy and bring Helen back. The confederation is led by King Agamemnon, brother of Menelaus, as commander-in-chief. There is an initial quarrel among the Greek leaders over two more abductions. King Agamemnon has taken Chryseis the daughter of the priest Chryses; he then takes Briseis away from Achilles when he is forced to give Chryseis up. Achilles appeals to the gods to inflict loss on the Achaeans, and Zeus is won over to his cause. The voyage to Troy is not described at all; the action moves immediately to the Troad. The Greek warriors disembark on the beach in front of Troy and there is an exchange of taunts between Greek and Trojan heroes, after which Menelaus engages Paris in single combat. Paris loses, but his life is saved by the goddess Aphrodite, who spirits him from the field of battle back inside the walls of Troy.