The Trojan War: A New History

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The Trojan War is the most famous conflict in history, the subject of Homer's Iliad, one of the cornerstones of Western literature. Although many readers know that this literary masterwork is based on actual events, there is disagreement about how much of Homer's tale is true. Drawing on recent archeological research, historian and classicist Barry Strauss explains what really happened in Troy more than 3,000 years ago.

For many years it was thought that Troy was an insignificant place that never had a chance against the Greek warriors who laid siege and overwhelmed the city. In the old view, the conflict was decided by duels between champions on the plain of Troy. Today we know that Troy was indeed a large and prosperous city, just as Homer said. The Trojans themselves were not Greeks but vassals of the powerful Hittite Empire to the east in modern-day Turkey, and they probably spoke a Hittite-related language called Luwian. The Trojan War was most likely the culmination of a long feud over power, wealth, and honor in western Turkey and the offshore islands. The war itself was mainly a low-intensity conflict, a series of raids on neighboring towns and lands. It seems unlikely that there was ever a siege of Troy; rather some sort of trick -- perhaps involving a wooden horse -- allowed the Greeks to take the city.

Strauss shows us where Homer nods, and sometimes exaggerates and distorts, as well. He puts the Trojan War into the context of its time, explaining the strategies and tactics that both sides used, and compares the war to contemporary battles elsewhere in the eastern Mediterranean. With his vivid reconstructions of the conflict and his insights into the famous characters and events of Homer's great epic, Strauss masterfully tells the story of the fall of Troy as history without losing the poetry and grandeur that continue to draw readers to this ancient tale.
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About the author

Barry Strauss, professor of history and classics at Cornell University, is a leading expert on ancient military history. He has written or edited several books, including The Battle of Salamis, The Trojan War, The Spartacus War, Masters of Command, The Death of Caesar, and Ten Caesars. Visit BarryStrauss.com.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Sep 19, 2006
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Pages
288
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ISBN
9780743293624
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Ancient / Greece
History / Europe / Greece
History / Military / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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In this masterly interpretation of narrative sequence in the Iliad, Keith Stanley not only sharpens the current debate over the date and creation of the poem, but also challenges the view of this work as primarily a celebration of heroic force. He begins by studying the intricate ring-composition in the verses describing Achilles' shield, then extends this analysis to reveal the Iliad as an elaborate and self-conscious formal whole. In so doing he defends the hypothesis that the poem as we know it is a massive reorganization and expansion of earlier "Homeric" material, written in response to the need for a stable text for repeated performance at the sixth-century Athenian festival for the city's patron goddess.

Stanley explores the arrangement of the poem's books, all unified by theme and structure, showing how this allowed for artistically satisfying and practically feasible recitation over a period of three or four days. Taking structural emphasis as a guide to poetic discourse, the author argues that the Iliad is not a poem of "might"--as opposed to the Odyssean celebration of "guile"--but that in advocating social and personal reconciliation the poem offers a profound indictment of a warring heroic society.

Originally published in 1993.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

The Iliad, Homer's epic tale of the abduction of Helen and the decade-long Trojan War, has fascinated mankind for millennia. Even today, the war inspires countless articles and books, extensive archaeological excavations, movies, television documentaries, even souvenirs and collectibles. But while the ancients themselves believed that the Trojan War took place, scholars of the modern era have sometimes derided it as a piece of fiction. Combining archaeological data and textual analysis of ancient documents, this Very Short Introduction considers whether or not the war actually took place and whether archaeologists have really discovered the site of ancient Troy. To answer these questions, archaeologist and ancient historian Eric H. Cline examines various written sources, including the works of Homer, the Epic Cycle (fragments from other, now-lost Greek epics), classical plays, and Virgil's Aeneid. Throughout, the author tests the literary claims against the best modern archaeological evidence, showing for instance that Homer, who lived in the Iron Age, for the most part depicted Bronze Age warfare with accuracy. Cline also tells the engaging story of the archaeologists--Heinrich Schliemann and his successors Wilhelm Dörpfeld, Carl Blegen, and Manfred Korfmann--who found the long-vanished site of Troy through excavations at Hisarlik, Turkey. Drawing on evidence found at Hisarlik and elsewhere, Cline concludes that a war or wars in the vicinity of Troy probably did take place during the Late Bronze Age, forming the nucleus of a story that was handed down orally for centuries until put into final form by Homer. But Cline suggests that, even allowing that a Trojan War took place, it probably was not fought because of Helen's abduction, though such an incident may have provided the justification for a war actually fought for more compelling economic and political motives. About the Series: Oxford's Very Short Introductions series offers concise and original introductions to a wide range of subjects--from Islam to Sociology, Politics to Classics, Literary Theory to History, and Archaeology to the Bible. Not simply a textbook of definitions, each volume in this series provides trenchant and provocative--yet always balanced and complete--discussions of the central issues in a given discipline or field. Every Very Short Introduction gives a readable evolution of the subject in question, demonstrating how the subject has developed and how it has influenced society. Eventually, the series will encompass every major academic discipline, offering all students an accessible and abundant reference library. Whatever the area of study that one deems important or appealing, whatever the topic that fascinates the general reader, the Very Short Introductions series has a handy and affordable guide that will likely prove indispensable.
The Spartacus War is the extraordinary story of the most famous slave rebellion in the ancient world, the fascinating true story behind a legend that has been the inspiration for novelists, filmmakers, and revolutionaries for 2,000 years. Starting with only seventy-four men, a gladiator named Spartacus incited a rebellion that threatened Rome itself. With his fellow gladiators, Spartacus built an army of 60,000 soldiers and controlled the southern Italian countryside. A charismatic leader, he used religion to win support. An ex-soldier in the Roman army, Spartacus excelled in combat. He defeated nine Roman armies and kept Rome at bay for two years before he was defeated. After his final battle, 6,000 of his followers were captured and crucified along Rome's main southern highway.

The Spartacus War is the dramatic and factual account of one of history's great rebellions. Spartacus was beaten by a Roman general, Crassus, who had learned how to defeat an insurgency. But the rebels were partly to blame for their failure. Their army was large and often undisciplined; the many ethnic groups within it frequently quarreled over leadership. No single leader, not even Spartacus, could keep them all in line. And when faced with a choice between escaping to freedom and looting, the rebels chose wealth over liberty, risking an eventual confrontation with Rome's most powerful forces.

The result of years of research, The Spartacus War is based not only on written documents but also on archaeological evidence, historical reconstruction, and the author's extensive travels in the Italian countryside that Spartacus once conquered.
One of our most provocative military historians, Victor Davis Hanson has given us painstakingly researched and pathbreaking accounts of wars ranging from classical antiquity to the twenty-first century. Now he juxtaposes an ancient conflict with our most urgent modern concerns to create his most engrossing work to date, A War Like No Other.

Over the course of a generation, the Hellenic city-states of Athens and Sparta fought a bloody conflict that resulted in the collapse of Athens and the end of its golden age. Thucydides wrote the standard history of the Peloponnesian War, which has given readers throughout the ages a vivid and authoritative narrative. But Hanson offers readers something new: a complete chronological account that reflects the political background of the time, the strategic thinking of the combatants, the misery of battle in multifaceted theaters, and important insight into how these events echo in the present.

Hanson compellingly portrays the ways Athens and Sparta fought on land and sea, in city and countryside, and details their employment of the full scope of conventional and nonconventional tactics, from sieges to targeted assassinations, torture, and terrorism. He also assesses the crucial roles played by warriors such as Pericles and Lysander, artists, among them Aristophanes, and thinkers including Sophocles and Plato.

Hanson’s perceptive analysis of events and personalities raises many thought-provoking questions: Were Athens and Sparta like America and Russia, two superpowers battling to the death? Is the Peloponnesian War echoed in the endless, frustrating conflicts of Vietnam, Northern Ireland, and the current Middle East? Or was it more like America’s own Civil War, a brutal rift that rent the fabric of a glorious society, or even this century’s “red state—blue state” schism between liberals and conservatives, a cultural war that manifestly controls military policies? Hanson daringly brings the facts to life and unearths the often surprising ways in which the past informs the present.

Brilliantly researched, dynamically written, A War Like No Other is like no other history of this important war.
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