The Trojan War: A New History

Front Cover
Simon and Schuster, Sep 19, 2006 - History - 288 pages
7 Reviews
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.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - pjskimin - LibraryThing

This book was not what I expected. I thought it would focus on archeological evidence as a support for the existence of Troy. Instead the author asks us to imagine what a real battle at Troy would ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ClifSven - LibraryThing

I found this book to be tedious. As far as I could tell there was no new "history" at all, merely a great deal of speculation on the author's part. And with very little to back up his opinion. He left ... Read full review


War for Helen
The Black Ships Sail
Operation Beachhead
Assault on the Walls
An Army in Trouble
The Killing Fields
Night Moves
Hectors Charge
The Night of the Horse
Glossary of Key Names

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 78 - Thou, from this tower defend the important post ; There Agamemnon points his dreadful host, That pass Tydides, Ajax, strive to gain, And there the vengeful Spartan fires his train. Thrice our bold foes the fierce attack have given, Or led by hopes, or dictated from heaven. Let others in the field their arms employ, But stay my Hector here, and guard his Troy.
Page 143 - My soul impels me to the' embattled plains; Let me be foremost to defend the throne, And guard my father's glories, and my own. ' Yet come it will, the day decreed by fates; (How my heart trembles while my tongue relates!) The day when thou, imperial Troy!
Page 56 - Death is the worst; a fate which all must try; And for our country, 'tis a bliss to die. The gallant man, though slain in fight he be, Yet leaves his nation safe, his children free; Entails a debt on all the grateful state; His own brave friends shall glory in his fate; His wife live honour'd, all his race succeed, And late posterity enjoy the deed!
Page 148 - Pallas' self might view with fix'd delight; Or had the god of war inclined his eyes, The god of war had own'da just surprise. A chosen phalanx, firm, resolved as fate, Descending Hector and his battle wait. An iron scene gleams dreadful o'er the fields, Armour in armour lock'd, and shields in shields, Spears lean on spears, on targets targets throng, Helms stuck to helms, and man drove man along. The floating plumes...
Page 113 - Peace, factious monster, born to vex the state, With wrangling talents form'd for foul debate : Curb that impetuous tongue, nor rashly vain, And singly mad, asperse the sovereign reign. Have we not known thee, slave ! of all our host, The man who acts the least, upbraids the most ? Think not the Greeks to shameful flight to bring, Nor let those lips profane the name of king.
Page 45 - Menelaiis' arm the weapon sent, Through his broad back and heaving bosom went ; Down sinks the warrior with a thundering sound, His brazen armour rings against the ground. Next artful Phereclus untimely fell : Bold Merion sent him to the realms of hell. Thy father's skill, O Phereclus ! was thine, The graceful fabric and the fair design ; For, loved by Pallas, Pallas did impart To him the shipwright's and the builder's art.
Page 108 - Ranks wedged in ranks ; of arms a steely ring Still grows, and spreads, and thickens round the king As when a circling wall the builder forms, Of strength defensive against winds and storms, Compacted stones the thickening work compose, And round him wide the rising structure grows : So helm to helm, and crest to crest they throng...
Page 108 - Shield urged on shield, and man drove man along ; Thick, undistinguish'd plumes, together join'd, Float in one sea, and wave before the wind. Far o'er the rest, in glittering pomp appear There bold Automedon, Patroclus here...

References to this book

About the author (2006)

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, and The Death of Caesar. Visit

Bibliographic information