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Episode Three and Four: Trojan War

This time we’re bringing you a BIGGIE. The OG of myth, the big mumma of epic, probably one of the most famous stories from the Classical World: THE. TROJAN. WAR. And yeah – it’s another double (and this was us being concise... ish). Essentially, we’ve referred to the Trojan War or its heroes so many times in our podcast, that we thought it was time for an overview episode. If you’re hoping for a ‘A-Z of Troy’, then keep hoping. We’re not even sure that’s possible to be honest. But this episode should at least bring you the key players and events of the narrative.

Part 1 plunges you into the characters – heroes, kings, queens, prophetesses – some better known than others (Glaucus, we’re looking at you). We’re talking Agamemnon, we’re talking Achilles, we’re talking Helen ... and of course any excuse to wax lyrical about Hector a little more. Here’s where we background the war for you – literarily and mythologically. “What...?!”, we hear you cry “The Iliad wasn’t the only book about the Trojan War?!” That’s right people. We’ve got a WHOLE CYCLE (and the Iliad only covers a tiny part of the chronology). And the myths! THE MYTHS, dear listeners! What bit of fruit set off the chain reaction that would lead to the death of Patroklus (single tear)? Was it really all about Helen? What’s this Oath of Tyndareus all about anyway – obligatory MD eye roll about Odysseus.

But wait – there’s more? Part 2 of our Trojan ramble brings you a deep dive into THE ILIAD ITSELF *cue fanfare/war cry*. In the second of our Trojan War episodes, we take you on a very summary ride through the first of Homer’s great epics (it’s bumpy, there are shortcuts, peaks and troughs, roundabouts... are we taking this metaphor too far?). This book has got it ALL. Emotion, gore, grief, bravery, a night raid, A LOT of hero-posturing, and some very niche vocab about a wagon (sexy). And hey, guess what ... the Iliad isn’t actually about war. Mic drop.

Bear with us. There’s a lot in here. Come back, take notes, revise and repeat (plus we get more listens that way) – you’ll get to grips with it.

Our takeaway from the episode? The film Troy (2004) is great but don’t believe it.

References Part 1

- Homer, Iliad (c. 8th-6th century BCE)

- Troy (2004)

- The Epic Cycle

- BBC’s The Fall of Troy (2018)

Natalie Haynes’ summary of the Iliad:

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