Saturday, January 04, 2014


These ruins are believed to be what is left of the city Troy in the Trojan War from Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey.  According to archeologists, the city has been rebuilt many times. And Troy VII, dated to ~1200 BC, was Homer’s Troy.  

The epic war had fascinated us for thousands of years.  Perhaps not too many had read  Iliad and Odyssey.  But many must have heard of the heroic characters and their exploits.  Helen, the beautiful wife of a Greek king, whose face launched a thousand ships.  Paris, the prince of Troy, who seduced Helen and started the Trojan War.  Patroclus, who had killed 53 Trojan solders, who was then stunned by Apollo, wounded by Euphorbos, and finished off by Hector.  Ajax, who fought Hector to a draw. Hector, the eldest son of King Priam of Troy and brother of Paris, who also killed the Greek champion Protesilaus. Achilles, the son of a man and a goddess, who killed the Trojan hero Hector.  In turn, Achilles was killed when Paris shot him in the heel with an arrow, the only part of his body that was vulnerable - hence the term Achilles’ Heel...

Looking at the ruins, I could not help wondering where exactly  it was that these heroes fought each other.  And where they are now. 

There was, of course, this horse that the Greeks left on the beach in front of Troy, which the Trojans moved inside their city, from which Greek soldiers came out to open the gates to let in the other Greek soldiers, ... - hence the term Trojan Horse.  This one, of course, is just a recent construction. 

The war was fought not just between the Greeks and Trojans, but also among the gods.  In fact, the long conflict started when the goddesses Hera, Athena and Aphrodite fought for the goddess Eris' golden apple, designated for the "fairest". When Paris decided to give it to Aphrodite, she made Helen fall in love with Paris, that led to the war.  Athena decided to help the Greeks, while Aphrodite and Athena's brother, the god Apollo helped the Trojans, …, with many other gods taking sides.  

The whole thing gave the impression that the Greek gods are just more powerful versions of human beings, with the same capacity for jealousy, cruelty, …, as well as love and compassion.

All these may have been more legend than history.  But in 334 BC, a real life hero Alexander took his army out of Macedonia to invade Asia.  The first town he reached was Troy.  Alexander was another name for Paris, but Alexander wasn’t much interested in Paris.  He brought sacrifices to Athena, Achilles and the Homeric heroes.   

In New Testament times, probably around 55 AD, Paul came to Troy, which was called Troas. Here Paul gave a long sermon. A young man, Eutychus, who was sitting at the window-sill fell asleep and fell to the ground, dead.  Paul went down, bent over him and holding him gently, revived him.  [Acts of the Apostles: 20:5-15].  Where exactly did this happen?

Very often, a pile of stones is just a pile of stones.  Sometimes, there are some fascinating stories behind them.  If only stones could speak, they have a lot to tell us. 

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