What caused the Trojan War?

The Trojan War began at the end of the 13th century BC. No written sources have survived from those events, and only the oral epic, subsequently collected by Homer, brought the details of the events to the descendants. According to the Iliad, the main culprit of the war was the goddess of discord Eris, who was not invited by the Olympians to the wedding of the hero Peleus and the nereis Thetis. She tossed at the feasting a golden apple with the inscription: “The most beautiful.” The goddesses Hera, Athena and Aphrodite argued over which of them should own this prize. They asked Zeus to judge them. But he did not want to give preference to anyone, because Hera was his wife, Athena was his daughter, and Aphrodite was needed in love affairs. Whichever he chose, the two remaining goddesses would harbor grudges.

Zeus offered to judge the goddesses Paris, the son of the king of Troy Priam. And Paris gave the apple to Aphrodite, because she promised him the love of the most beautiful woman in the world – Elena, the wife of the Spartan king Menelaus. Paris sailed to Sparta, and Menelaus welcomed his guest, but was soon forced to sail to Crete to bury his grandfather Katreus. Aphrodite fell in love with Helen in Paris, and she sailed with him, taking with her the treasures of Menelaus.

The kidnapping of Elena became the reason for the declaration of war on Troy. Deciding to take revenge on the offender, Menelaus and his brother Agamemnon, king of Mycenae, drove around all the other Greek kings and persuaded them to participate in the campaign against the Trojans. Agamemnon was recognized as the commander-in-chief of the expedition, having put forward the largest military contingent. This is, in brief, the legend about the beginning of the war of the Achaeans (that is, the Greeks) with the Trojans. What was the real reason for this conflict?

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The city of Troy was located at the junction of busy trade routes that passed through the Gelespont Strait, connecting the Black and Mediterranean Seas. Located on the coast of the Asia Minor peninsula, in the immediate vicinity of the strait, Troy controlled the sea routes, receiving considerable income from this. The Trojans interfered with the trade of the Greek policies, which eventually united in a military alliance and began the siege of Troy. Troy, in turn, also had allies: the Lyceans, Anatolians and Thracians.

During the XIV-XIII centuries. BC. in Asia Minor, Rhodes and Cyprus, numerous Achaean settlements appear. The Greeks gradually took over the trade initiative from their predecessors, the Minoans. The Minoan power had already fallen, but the colonies retained their independence and remained rivals of the Greeks in this region. Combining trade with piracy, the Achaeans soon transformed from a purely trade union into a major political and then military force. In Hittite records of this period, they are put on a par with such large states as Egypt, Babylon and Assyria.

But the great powers of that era were located far from the scene and had little interest in what was happening at the Hellespont. But the fortified Troy greatly interfered with the Achaeans, who did not like the fact that this city was turning into a powerful citadel and a dangerous enemy. Influenced the development of events and the strengthening of Mycenae, which threatened to upset the military balance in the entire Peloponnesian peninsula. Moreover, Agamemnon, the ruler of Mycenae, also did not want the forces of the other poleis to unite against him. The best way out was a joint military campaign against an external enemy, for the role of which Troy was ideally suited.

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Agamemnon’s brother was Menelaus, who inherited the throne in Sparta after marriage. He became the husband of the very Helena the Beautiful, which later Greek legends began to call the cause of the war. It is not known whether she was actually kidnapped, but it is safe to say that even before this event, an alliance of the Greek kings was formed, the troops were mobilized and ships were built, on which the Greek heroes would soon sail to battle the Trojans.

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