The Trojan War is contained in Greek mythology and is based on a tale that suggests that Paris, the then prince of Troy had traveled to Sparta on a mission to abduct his host’s wife. Unknowingly of Paris’ motives, Menelaus the host gave Paris a royal reception. However, when he left Sparta to attend a funeral, Paris took off with Helen who was considered the most beautiful woman in the land then, and who was also Menelaus wife. On going back to Troy in 1200 B.C. Helen and Paris wedded (Wood 16).
On coming back to Sparta, it is stated that Menelaus was outraged to find his wife gone. He therefore mobilized all suitors who had wanted to marry Helen before and made them take an oath to protect her honor by getting her from troy. Unfortunately, not all Helen’s previous suitors were willing to go to war for her. Most notable of the suitors was Odysseus who faked insanity just to avoid going to war. His trick was however uncovered and he was therefore included in the army. Achilles was not Helen’s former suitor, but was nevertheless part of the Greek army because a seer by the name Calchas had predicted that the army would not succeed in taking over Troy unless Achilles was part of the army.
Another person who avoided going to war was Cinyras. Being the reigning king of Paphos at that time and having been a former suitor to Helen, he promised to provide fifty ships to the Greek fleet. Though he did as promised, it is stated that only the first ship was real and had real people. In fact, the first ship was commanded by Cinyras’ son. The rest of the ships were all toys made of clay and the sailors therein were also made of clay. As a result, all except the first ship dissembled soon after they were placed in the waters (Tripp 584).
Though the Greek army knew that Helen had been taken to Troy, they had some doubts and were at the time under the impression that Helen could have been taken by the Teuthranians. Despite the fact that the latter denying any such thing, the Greeks attacked them. They did not find Helen, but injured the King of Teuthranians, Telephus who later sought treatment from Greek. In the course of his treatment, Telephus revealed to the Greeks how to find Troy. Having known the way to Troy, the Greeks sent Odysseus and Menelaus to Priam. Their message to the people of troy was “Give Helen back to use and return the lost treasure which Paris had stolen” (Anderson 1). However, Priam refused. When Odysseus and Menelaus went back to Greece, it was obvious that war was inevitable.
The war waged by Greeks not only targeted troy, but also included Troy’s regional neighbors, who the Greek kingdom had discovered had been assisting troy. By attacking the neighboring kingdoms, Greece new it would cut off the supplies supplied to Troy hence muzzling the Troy economy. In addition to the economic impact caused to neighboring kingdoms, the Greeks also gathered other resources, which included riches and women (Mortal women of the Trojan War 18). Overall, the Greeks seemed to overpower their enemies. However, their inability to penetrate Troy due to the impregnable walls set around the kingdom remained a major hindrance.
After Achilles was killed in the war, Helenus the son of Priam was captured by Odysseus as part of the strategy to gain insight on how best to penetrate troy. Because he was a seer, the Greeks convinced him to reveal to them how they would succeed in capturing Troy. He told them that their mission would fail unless Pyrrhus the son of Achilles was present in the Greek army; the Greeks used weaponry (bows & arrows) of Hercules against the Trojan; the remains if a famous Eleian hero known as Pelops were taken to Troy; and the Palladium statue of Athena was stolen from Troy by the Greeks (Greekmythology 4).
Under the leadership of Odysseus, the Greeks were able to meet or the requirements that the prophet Helenus had placed on them. Odysseus was able to infiltrate the Defenses placed around Troy and stole the Palladium. However, he could not afford to get a large army to the kingdom thus meaning he was still unable to devise a way to conquer Troy. On their way back to the Greek Camp, Odysseus and Deomedes had picked up Philoctetes, who would then use the bow and arrows that belonged to Hercules to kill Paris (Sutcliff 134).
With no easy way to gain entry into Troy, Odysseus device a ploy that involved the Greeks building large wooden horse that had a hollow ‘belly’. Once complete, Greek warriors who included Odysseus climbed inside the hollow part of the horse, while the rest of the Greek soldiers sailed away in order to give the Trojans the impression that they had given up.
Seeing the huge creation, the Trojans drew closer marveling at the mere size of the creation. They met Sinon, a man who feigned anger towards the Greeks for allegedly having “deserted him” (Sutcliff 134). Sinon convinced them that the wooden horse would do nothing but bring god luck to the Trojans. Having lost the Palladium Statue, the Trojan saw the wooden horse as a viable replacement of the same. Only two Seers; Laocoon and Cassandra were against the Trojans taking up the horse. They rightfully stated that there were Greeks inside the horse. However, none of the Trojans could heed their advice.
Sinon was at hand to convince the Trojans that the horse was meant to appease goddess Athena, who was enraged after the Palladium was stolen. He further told them that enormous size of the horse was intentionally meant to keep it from fitting inside the Trojan gates. He also told them that placing the horse inside Troy would give Trojans the victory they had yearned for. With all doubt lifted, the Trojans demolished part of their wall in order to create a large enough entry point of the horse into Troy. Once inside, the Trojans celebrated then went into sleep thinking they had conquered the Greeks. At the dead of the night however, Sinon opened the horse and let the Greek soldiers out. He also used a beacon to signal the Greeks to come to Troy (Sutcliff 134). In a single night, the Greeks were able seize Troy and commit other atrocities, which not only ended the Trojan War, but also ended the kingdom of Priam. Helen who was the initial cause why war had taken place could have been killed by Menelaus, who had sworn to do so. However, it is stated that her beauty and pleas to be forgiven made Menelaus pardon her.
An analysis of the Trojan War has one prominent use of Subterfuge; Odysseus ingenious idea of creating the Trojan horse. However, before the start of the war, Paris is seen as a tricky person who, driven by the need to have the Beautiful Helen as his wife, went to Sparta like an innocent visitor, but later abducted or maybe convinced Helen to accompany him back to Troy. While this action was before the war, it is notable that it was what triggered the war.
Acts of subterfuge as also noted when Menelaus, incensed by the fact that Paris had taken off with his wife, mobilized Helen’s former suitors to wage war against the Trojans in order to get her back and “preserve her honor”. Clearly, Menelaus was the only person who had a cause to fight the Trojans. The other suitors having lost the chance to marry Helen did could not have minded that she was married to someone else besides Menelaus. He however managed to convince them that they had a cause to fight the Trojans because the fairest woman in the land could not be married to the enemy.
Odysseus who is portrayed as the main character behind the trickery used by the Greeks also disguised himself in order to gain entry into Troy (possibly when he was going to steal the Palladium statue). Citing a recount by Helen, Dilworth states that Odysseus “had disfigured himself with ignominious stripes, threw dismal wrappings over his shoulder, and disguised as a beggar passed into the city of the Trojans” (1).
It was the Trojan horse subterfuge however that enabled the Greeks to finally bring down Troy. In addition to creating a horse that would be big enough to accommodate a number of Greek soldiers, Odysseus who is believed to the brain behind the horse also knew just how to use Sinon in order to convince the Trojans that indeed the horse would bring them good luck. Sinon’s story was fool proof. First he appeared to the Trojans in tattered clothes, claimed that he had fled the Greeks as they tried to sacrifice him in order to appease goddess Athena ostensibly to appease her for having stolen the palladium statue. To show just how the Greeks had tried to avoid the Trojan getting inside the wall of Troy, Sinon told the Trojans that the Greeks had crafted the horse in such a large size in order to prevent it going through the Trojan walls, because they knew the horse would bring good fortunes to the kingdom. The story was so convincing that the Trojans ignored their own seers who had correctly predicted that the Trojan horse had Greek men inside. They brought down the walls to make way for the Trojan horse. As fate would have had it, this was their final undoing.
The Trojan War story seems to suggest that brain power can do what people try to do using brawn power for years without succeeding. Though interpreted by some scholars as part of the Greek Mythology, vital lessons about strategies of war can be borrowed from the same, with some like Voyiatzaki (212) referring to odysseus’s subterfuge as “ the decoy that resolved the Trojan war”.
Anderson, Michael. The fall of troy in early Greek poetry and art. Clarendon Press: Oxford, 1997. Print
Dilworth, Thomas. “The Fall of Troy and the Slaughter of the Suitors: Ultimate Symbolic Correspondence in the Odyssey.” Mosaic 27.2 (1994):1.
Greekmythology. “The story of the Trojan War”. 2009. Web.
Mortal women of the Trojan War. “The Trojan War”. n.d. 2010. Web.
Sutcliff, Rosemary. Black Ships before Troy. Ed. London: Frances Lincoln Ltd, 2008. Print.
Tripp, Edward. Crowell’s Handbook of Classical Mythology. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1970. Print
Voyiatzaki, Evi. The body in the text: James Joyce’s Ulysses and the Modern Greek novel. Ed. Lanham, MD: Lexington books, 2002. Print.
Wood, Michael. In search of the Trojan War. California: University of California Press, 1998. Print