On The Trojans

Who were the Trojans?   Many scholars think they were Phrygians, a Greek speaking people who moved into western Anatolia around the collapse of the Hittite Empire as part of the movement attributed to the Sea People.  Herodotus says the Phrygians were originally from Macedonia and Thrace, but there are problems with the chronology; for one thing, the demise of the Hittites occurred around 1200 BCE, which is also the time in which the Troy of the Iliad was destroyed (its fall placed sometime from 1250 to 1184 BCE).   Also in the Iliad the Phrygians are identified as allies of Troy in the Trojan War.  That part can be explained by Phrygia being a smaller state than at first because other peoples, namely the Mysians, Lycians, and Lydians had also moved into the land and formed their own kingdoms (but again, chronology raises questions -these kingdoms being of a later time period, yet also described as Troy’s allies in the Iliad). 

Troy (Ilium or Ilios in Greek, Truva in Turkish), now considered to be the site found near Hissarlik in Turkey by Heinrich Schliemann, was found to predate the Phrygians, and actually goes back to around 3000-2500 BCE and may have been Hittite city then.  It had a Hittite name, Wilusa or Truwisa; there are other Hittite connections, such as the names of kings, suggesting them as the Trojans of the Iliad. 

Language does not help because in mythology there are no language barriers; no matter how remote the people exist (the Amazons, Colchis in Jason and the Argonauts) they speak the same language and are able to communicate with everyone else.  So we are left with the same question: who were the Trojans?  No matter what the answer, it has no impact on the greatness of the stories that have been written about them.  Troy’s appeal remains timeless, and that we definitely owe to the Greeks.  So my appreciation is for the Greeks, for Homer, and their glorious civilization.



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