Troy (in ancient Greek Τροία / Troía and Turkish Truva ) is a lost city, both historical and legendary, located at the entrance to the Hellespont , not far from the Aegean Sea , in Troad , Asia Minor , in the current Turkey , in Hissarlık . Its name comes from the Hittite Taruiša (“rivers”) according to the linguists 1 or Tros , the hero namesake of Troy, according to mythology ; it is also called Teucrieby the poets, from the name of his first mythical king, Teucros of Phrygia , or Ilios (in ancient Greek Ἴλιος / Ílios ) or Ilion (in ancient Greek Ἴλιον / Ílion ), which according to linguists could come from the Hittite Wilusa , and according to the mythology of the name of its founder: Ilos . With the Eolide , Troad was one of the subregions of Mysia , and it was also known as Helspontic Phrygia in the Achaemenid era .

Mentioned for the first time by Homer , it is at the center of many legends of Greek mythology , including the Trojan War to which the stories of the Trojan Cycle are attached

Troy the legend


According to legend, Dardanos is considered the founder of the dynasty of the Trojan kings. He fled the flood and found asylum with King Teucros of Phrygia . After the death of Teucros, he became the sole heir, marrying Batia , the daughter of King Teucros. We find the name of Dardanos to designate a Thracian or illiterate tribe of the Balkans : the Dardanes, which would suggest links between Europe and the Trojans (knowing that the Bythinianneighbors of the Trojans were Thracians ). Tros , grandson of Dardanos, is the eponymous hero Troas and Troy. The city itself is founded by his son Ilos .

Laomedon , the son of Ilos, succeeds him on the throne. Poseidon and Apollo , punished by Zeus , built for the cruel king the walls of Troy, but did not receive the promised salary and, offended by the king, who threatens to cut off their ears, they take revenge. Apollo sends an epidemic of plague, and Poseidon orders a sea monster to devour the inhabitants and to devastate the fields by vomiting sea water.

Map of Troad, including the Trojan site.

The oracle of Zeus , Ammon , advises Laomedon to sacrifice his daughter Hesione , leaving her naked, with her only jewels, on the shore of Troas, so that she may be devoured by the monster.

The expedition of Heracles against Troy

The pediments of the temple of Aphaia at Aegina represent the two “wars of Troy”: the raid of Heracles (fronton is, above) and the war of the Achaean chiefs (fronton west, below). Munich Museum .

It is thus that Heracles , who followed Jason in search of the golden fleece in Colchis , finds Hésione chained to a rock on the shore of Troy, entirely naked and adorned with his only jewels. He breaks his chains and offer to kill the sea monster in exchange for two white horses immortal, that Zeus had offered to Tros , the grandfather of Laomedon , for the price of kidnapping Ganymede 2 .

The Trojans build a high wall at some distance from the shore. When the monster reaches the wall, he opens his huge jaws, and Heracles engages armed in the monster’s throat. After three days, he comes out victorious from the belly of the monster. Laomédon then deceived Heracles by substituting two ordinary horses for the promised immortal horses. Heracles embarks very angry after threatening to wage the war against Troy.

He recruited soldiers in Tiryns and chartered boats (6 to 18, according to sources); he counts among his allies Iolaos , Telamon , Peleo , Oles, the Argian , Deimaque the Boeotian . He disembarks near Troy, entrusting the guard of the ships to Oicles. Laomedon sends the people equipped with swords and torches to burn the ships of Heracles, but Oicles resists until his last breath and allows them to go back to sea.

Heracles ordered the immediate assault on the city, and it was Telamon who succeeded in creating a breach in the wall and entering the city. Heracles kills Laomedon and all his sons, with the exception of the young Podarcs. Hesione is attributed to Telamon as a reward; she has permission to redeem the prisoner of her choice, and buys her brother Podarcès for the price of the gold veil she wears on the forehead. This is Podarcès the name of Priam , which means “redeemed”.

After having burned the city and devastated the neighborhood, Heracles left Troas with Glaucia, daughter of the Scamander River , and left Priam on the throne.

The Troy war

Main article: Trojan War .

The legendary history of the war between Greeks and Trojans is the subject of the Iliad of Homer , the epic of the Trojan cycle and one of the subjects of the Aeneid of Virgil , in which Aeneas must leave Troy event that leads very indirectly to the founding of Rome , an apocryphal narrative serving, of course, for the building of the Roman Empire .

The origin of the Trojan War is the abduction by Paris , Trojan prince, of Helen , wife of Menelaus , king of Sparta . To punish the Trojans, the Greek kings combine and place the siege in front of the city. After ten years of siege, the Greeks enter the city thanks to the trick of Ulysses : the Trojan horse .

During these events, the King of Troy is Priam , and the Queen is Hecuba .

Historic Troy

According to the Iliad , Troy was located on both sources of the Scamander , one releasing hot vapors, and the other ice. However, when the Greek inhabitants of Ilion claimed the Trojan heritage, they were described as vain. In addition, the Greek geographer Strabon declared that the real site was located 5.6 km away, in the “village of Trojans”.

Thus the French traveler Lechevalier stated at the end of the xviii th century , Troy was the village of Bunarbashi (the name means “source of head”), which was at the foot of a rocky hill where sprang from several sources. For two generations, researchers forgot that these sources had the same temperature (but it is true that such geophysical phenomena are rarely perennial). Heinrich Schliemann himself found no trace of the city at this location and fell back on the hill of Hissarlik , an eminence located 4.8 km from the coast between two rivers, named Simois and Scamandrein the Iliad (today Dımbrek and Kara-Menderes).

As often old legends and modern topographical realities do not exactly agree, even if convergences exist. However, the Hissarlık site is now recognized by UNESCO as the “archaeological site of Troy” , which inscribed it on the World Heritage List in 1998 .

Comparative Mythology

Remains of the illustrious walls of Troy (Troy VII, identified as the Homeric Troy, around 1200 BC)

The comparative mythology is to compare stories and myths them, and to seek the projections of these myths within the same socio-linguistic sphere, following Dumézil . This comparison is nowadays facilitated by the digitization of texts and their processing according to their characteristics, making it possible to detect the diversity of sources and the chronology of interpolations . According to this analysis, no element about the Trojan War is demonstrable: it would be a heroic myth , an aggregation of recurrent archetypes clad in geographical and historical realities (the many conflicts of different eras that archeologyreveals on the site) 3 .

Notes and references

  1. ↑ RSP Beekes, Etymological Dictionary of Greek , Brill, 2009, p. 1511.
  2. ↑ A. Tourraix E. Geny, Orient, Greek mirage , Franche-Comté University Press, p.  109 .
  3. ↑ In this Veyne argued in his book The Greeks did they believe their myths? Essay on the Constituting Imagination : “Criticizing myths is not to prove their falsity, but rather to find their true basis”.

See as well

On other Wikimedia projects:

  • Trojan , on Wikimedia Commons


  • Homer , Iliade [ details of the editions ] [ read online  [ archive ] ] .
  • (from) Latacz Joachim, Troia und Homer. Der Weg zur Lösung eines alten Rätsels , Piper, 2003.
  • Virgil , Aeneid [ retail editions ] [ read online  [ archive ] ] . Relate the final take of Troy and the journeys of Aeneas into Lazio.
  • Mr. García Esperón, The disc of Troy , novel, Mexico, 2006. Relates the foundation of Troy by Escamandro and Teucro, the kingdom of Dardane and the constitution of the Palladion like sacred object.
  • Sophocles, Ajax and Philoctetes . Pieces that both mention meaningful episodes of the Trojan War.
  • Euripides, Hecuba , Les Troyennes , Iphigénie en Tauride , Hélène , Iphigénie à Aulis , Rhésos .


  • The Fall of Troy , Giovanni Pastrone’s Italian silent filmreleased in 1910
  • Helen of Troy , Manfred Noa’s German film,released in 1924
  • Helen of Troy , Robert Wise’s American film, released in 1956
  • The Trojan War , Franco-Italian film of Giorgio Ferroni released in 1961
  • Helen of Troy , American film of John Kent Harrison released in 2003
  • Troy , Wolfgang Petersen’s 2004 American film about the Trojan War since Helen’s abduction on Achille’s death.
  • The Lost City of Dror Zahavi
  • In 2007, Teamworx’s two-part televised film, Der geheimnisvolle Schatz von Troj ( The Treacherous Treasure of Troy ), with Ferch in the role of businessman and archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann , tells the story of the city of Troy. , the discovery of Priam’s treasure and the realization of his vision of life.

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