A Brief History of the Trojan War /

The city of Troy was wealthier than most for a very simple reason: location. Positioned alongside critical land and sea trade routes, Troy grew in successive stages for almost two millennia. Practically all tradable goods changed hands in Troy, but they were most famous for the horses they bred, so much so that their prince and greatest warrior, Hector, was known by the epithet, “Tamer of Horses”. By the beginning of the 12th century BC, over 75 acres and a population booming to 7,000 solidified Troy as a very rich city for its time.

Anticipating danger, the Trojans fashioned immense fortifications around their city. Walls 25 feet tall and 13 feet deep held astonishing gates flanked by giant towers and, just to be safe, a deep trench surrounded it all. Yet, around 1180 BC, Troy was burned to the ground. All signs point to a long siege followed by a destructive final assault: The Trojan War.

The Trojan War was a conflict between the Mycenaean Greeks and the Trojans. Though the Greeks had great warriors, Troy’s walls could hold the line indefinitely. Supposedly built by the Gods themselves, they were believed to be insurmountable. However, the war could be won not by force but by guile, with one clever trick: the Trojan Horse.

It was said that Zeus gifted Troy with a sacred wooden statue of his daughter, Athena, and that this statue, the Palladium, kept the city safe. Odysseus, a Greek commander, managed to sneak into the city, steal the statue, and then planned a way to take advantage of the Trojans’ panic.

A great wooden horse was built and filled with a select group of warriors. The Greeks pretended to surrender, and left their mythic trap outside the walls claiming it was an offering to Athena. Seeing this, the Trojans believed it could replace their lost statue and thus brought it into their city. The trickery of Odysseus worked. Their warriors opened the gates and the Greeks, then inside the towering walls of Troy, sacked the city and won the long war.   —Shannon McCormack