Saturday, September 15, 2012

A quiz on the Fall of Troy

Note: I've added several new elements here to fill out the essentials of the Fall of Troy story.
Update 11.19.12: I've added a few more details at bottom.

Here's a nice quiz, a number of whose questions have to do with the fall of Troy. Have fun, and after choosing your answers, hit "submit answers for grading" to get your "grade."

Quiz or no quiz, you'll find here the conditions that had to be met before Troy would fall. It's a nice summary based strictly upon classical sources.

[Updates]: I've added a link on the right to Quintus Smyrnaeus's late classical epic, the Posthomerica, or The Fall of Troy, which purports to tell what happened after the Iliad ends.

Yet another condition that had to be met before Troy could fall is reason for the fame of the fisherman Damarmenus. He it was who, after the Trojan War, recovered from the sea the bone of Pelops 1. During the war it was prophesied to the Achaeans that Troy could not be taken unless, among other things, they could bring the bone of Pelops 1. From Pisa in Elis was brought the bone of Pelops 1, the ivory shoulder blade that replaced the part that Demeter had absent mindedly eaten at the time of Tantalus's grisly feast. As they were returning home from Troy, the ship carrying the bone was wrecked off Euboea in a storm. Many years later, Damarmenus, a fisherman from Eretria, drew up the bone. Amazed at its size he kept it hidden in the sand. Later the bone was given to the Eleans following an oracle from Delphi [Pau.5.13.4ff.].

The key source for knowing the conditions of vulnerability for Troy was Helenus, son of Priam and twin brother of Cassandra. He was said to be the wisest of the Trojans, and a seer. Parada:
only he knew the oracles that protected the city, which he revealed to the enemy so that the Achaeans could finally take Troy. For when Paris died, Helenus and his brother Deiphobus quarrelled for the hand of Helen; and when Deiphobus was preferred, Helenus left the city and established his residence on Mount Ida, where Odysseus captured him. And after having displayed the excellent seer in the Achaean camp, they forced this glorious prey to tell how Troy could be taken. That is why Helenus 1 prophesied whatever matter they asked, instructing them to bring the Bone of Pelops 1, to fetch Neoptolemus from Scyros, to persuade Philoctetes (in whose power were the Bow and Arrows of Heracles) to come from Lemnos, and also to steal the Palladium, a wooden statue that once had fallen from Heaven, since if it were carried off Troy could not survive.
There's a bit more to the story of Philoctetes and Heracles' arrows - here taken from notes found on the Perseus site:
When Hercules, through the imprudence of his wife Deianira, was seized with that cruel disease from which he had no release to hope for but death, he was carried to mount Oeta, and having ascended the funeral pile he obtained a promise from Philoctetes, the son of Poeas, that he would set fire to the pile, on condition of receiving his divine arrows as a reward for this last office. When the Greeks were on their voyage to Troy, it was foretold to them that they would never be able to overthrow llium, unless they discovered the altar of Chryse, erected on an island of the same name, and offered sacrifice thereon. While Philoctetes was showing where the altar was, he was wounded in the foot by a serpent which guarded it, and from that cause left at Lemnos. In the tenth year of the war Helenus, the Trojan prophet, being captured by Ulysses, predicted that Troy could never be taken but by the arrows of Hercules; upon this, messengers were sent to Lemnos in order to bring back Philoctetes with his arrows to Troy.
Helenus will appear in Metamorphoses 15 to provide Aeneas with crucial information for accomplishing the task of founding Rome. He also appears in Aeneid 3:
In Buthrotum, Aeneas met Andromache, the widow of Hector. She still laments for the loss of her valiant husband and beloved child. There, too, Aeneas saw and met Helenus, one of Priam's sons, who had the gift of prophecy. Through him, Aeneas learned the destiny laid out for him: he was divinely advised to seek out the land of Italy (also known as Ausonia or Hesperia), where his descendants would not only prosper, but in time rule the entire known world. In addition, Helenus also bade him go to the Sibyl in Cumae.

Another condition:
. . . when Achilles was nine years old, the seer Calchas, whom Agamemnon has called "prophet of evil," declared that Troy could not be taken without him. This is one of the reasons why Achilles came to Troy; for he, who had not been among the SUITORS OF HELEN, was not bound by the Oath of Tyndareus.

[Added 11.19.12] It turns out there were six famous conditions for the fall of Troy - Plautus cites three of them in a humorous scene of his Bacchides:
“I have heard there were three destinies attending Troy, which were fatal to it; if the statue should be lost from the citadel -- [it was carried off by Odysseus and Diomedes] -  whereas the second was the death of Troilus; the third was when the upper lintel of the Phrygian (aka Scaean gate) gate should be demolished.”

According to the commentary in Perseus by Charles Simmons: 
This last involved the disturbance of the tomb of Laomedon, and was brought about when the [Scaean] gate was widened to bring in the horse. A fourth condition was the presence of an Aeacid. This was satisfied by bringing to the war the young son of Achilles, Pyrrhus (cf. 155 n.), who thence got the name Neoptolemus. For fatis = ‘destruction,’ see 180 n.

A note on p. 196-197 of this edition of Plautus mentions three more conditions: 
If the horses of Rhesus should be captured before they had tasted of the pastures of Troy and the waters of Xanthus; if the bow and arrow of Hercules should be employed in the siege; and if one of the posterity of Achilles should be present (the Aeacid, Neoptolemos). 

The Horses of Rhesus

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