And in the left corner, we have the mysterious poet, writer of epics, we have none other than Homer himself! Annnd in the right corner, we have Hollywood film director and nominee for multiple academy awards, it is Wolfgang—– Peterson!!!!!
Ok, Now tell me that wasn’t mildly amusing to see. But, Yes, In this post, It is a case of Peterson vs Homer in an all-out battle for classical themes and Idea’s. If you’ve read my post on Achilles, you will realize that the two authors shared relatively different Idea’s in their texts, however I have not discussed their ideas to their limits, so without further interruptions by bizarre acts of humor, I urge you to continue onward.
In Homer’s epic poem the Iliad, Homer shares ideas of; The glory of war, Military action over family life, and the transience of human life. The glory of war is an idea expressed through multiple events, an example being of the Trojan prince Paris. Paris is portrayed as a weak and somewhat cowardly character incapable of carrying his own weight in battle, (Eg when Aphrodite rescues him). In his duel with Menelaus at the end of book three, it was said that if the Trojans knew where he was, they wouldn’t hide him, this being “since he was hated among them all as dark death is hated”. The Trojans hated Paris simply because he was not as skilled as the other men of Troy, and the fact that he wields a bow emphasizes on his cowardliness. Many other things explain how Homer viewed warfare but glory was not his only take on how he viewed the war. Homer also expresses the need to choose war over family, constantly expressing heroes choosing glory over family. In the later books of the Iliad, Andromache begs Hector not to go to war, but Hector knows that fighting among enemies is the only way of “winning my(his) father great glory.”. This is the case for Achilles too. At one stage in the Iliad, Achilles contemplates returning home and living with his aging father Peleus, but instead chooses to remain in Troy, killing Hector, avenging Patroclus and thereby attaining eternal glory. Paris, again, is the opposite of these ideals. He chooses to spend most of his time in the war with Helen, and this only adds to his already obtained hatred from the Trojans.
Finally, the Idea of the pre-destined human death is also told in the Iliad. In book 6, Andromache speaks to Hector, saying “Ah, my husband, this prowess of thine will be thy doom, neither hast thou any pity for thine infant child nor for hapless me that soon shall be thy widow; for soon will the Achaean’s all set upon thee and slay thee. But for me it were better to go down to the grave if I lose thee, for nevermore shall any comfort be mine, when thou hast met thy fate, but only woes. Neither father have I nor queenly mother.” . This exemplifies perfectly the idea of destiny and the briefness of human life. In book 1, Calchas the seer predicts the actions of Apollo and the plague “but because of the priest whom Agamemnon dishonored, and did not release his daughter nor accept the ransom. For this cause the god who strikes from afar has given woes and will still give them. He will not drive off from the Danaans the loathsome pestilence, until we give back to her dear father the bright-eyed maiden, unbought, unransomed, and lead a sacred hecatomb to Chryse. Then we might appease and persuade him.”. This is another prediction of death and the fall of kingdoms. Homer tries to get the idea across that all humans are mortal, and that they should live their lives with honor, so that their names live forever.
Now we get to the themes shown in the film Troy. In Troy, a major theme is the theme of love. It is love, that drives Paris to take Helen with him when returning to Troy, and it is love that begins the entire conflict of the Trojan war. In Troy, Petersen portrays Paris and Helen as if they live in their own world of romance, not caring in the slightest for the consequences of their relationship. When the battle of Troy rages on, Helen and Paris’s love still persists, and eventually it saves their lives as the two escape the ruined city of Troy in the end of the film. This theme of love persists throughout the whole film and is not present in the Iliad, where Helen does not escape Troy and is rather taken back by the alive Menelaus. Peterson changes many major events in the Iliad to cater for this theme and overall a modern audiences taste.
Although some may argue that the most definite theme in Troy is this one of love, some may also argue that the horror and reality of war is also the main theme in the film. This theme is thoroughly expressed through the character Hector, who will later be analysed. Hector is often shown as a brave character not afraid to share his views with figures of high power and royalty.At the beginning of the conflict between Troy and Greece, Agamemnon speaks with Hector and says “I have two wishes. If you grant them, no more of your people need die. First, you must give Helen back to my brother. Second, Troy must submit to my command, to fight for me whenever I call. ” to which Hector replies “You want me to look upon your army and tremble? Well I see them. I see 50,000 men brought here to fight for one man’s greed.”. Hector here, has identified the reality of what the conflict between the nations is and abruptly unmasked Agamemnon’s greed. He again says to Achilles “You speak of war as if it’s a game. But how many wives wait at Troy’s gates for husbands they’ll never see again? ” treating Achilles like a child playing a game and again identifying the truth behind warfare. It is interesting that Hector is the only character who shows these views in the film considering his character in the Iliad chose “winning glory for my(his) father” over staying with his wife and family, which would imply he had no desire for glory, but he did not do this. In the film, this choice occurs again, however Hector chooses battle not for glory, but for the protection of his country. Hector expresses the reality of war with crude exposure of itself and this in turn leads me to believe that the idea reality of war is another key theme expressed in Troy.
Wow! I wrote a lot here, but to sum it all up, It’s a double K.O . Both texts express equally powerful ideas with the ability to “knock each other out” when taken into the boxing ring of literature. The main ideas in the Iliad being; The glory of war, war over family, and the mortal human life. And the ideas of Troy being ones of love and the reality of war. That wraps up this battle, Until next round 😀