Cover image for The Trojan War : literature and legends from the Bronze Age to the present
The Trojan War : literature and legends from the Bronze Age to the present
Thompson, Diane P., 1940-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co., [2004]

Physical Description:
vi, 241 pages : maps ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN56.T76 T46 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The city of Troy, lying at the edge of Asia Minor, and the story of its war against the Mycenaean Greeks has been captured and retold in a variety of ways from ancient times to the present day, Diane Thompson reveals how each period of history has remembered Troy and added its own gods, heroic deeds, romantic characters and foundation myths to reinvent the history and legend of the city for a new audience. She examines Troy and the Trojan War in the Bronze Age, through the epics of the Iliad and Odyssey, through Aeschylus' Agamemnon, Euripides' plays about Iphigenia and Virgil's Aeneid . The rest of the book considers the Trojan war reinvented in medieval stories and romantic tales, in Chaucer and Shakespeare, and in 20th-century film, novels, games and Internet sites, A fascinating history of an enduring myth.

Author Notes

English professor DIANE P. THOMPSON is a long-time scholar of Troy studies. She lives in Reston, Virginia.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Tales of the Trojan War are among the first recorded stories in the canon of Western literature. Like all great stories, they have seen many transformations. Thompson (English, Northern Virginia Community Coll.) carefully traces the literary tradition of Troy, providing historical background on Troy and Mycenae in the Bronze Age and then examining the earliest works of literature, including Homer, Aeschylus, Euripides, and Virgil. In her examination of works by Chaucer, Shakespeare, Racine, and Goethe, Thompson discusses the difficulties of transmitting the pagan tales into the Christian ages of Europe. She then studies how feminists have adopted and adapted the Trojan legends in works like Sheri S. Tepper's The Gate to Women's Country and Marion Zimmer Bradley's Firebrand and concludes by demonstrating the staying power of the tales of Troy in 20th-century popular culture. This is a thorough treatment of stories based on the legend of Troy, written comprehensibly so that even those with minimal familiarity will see the parallels. Recommended for public and academic libraries, including high school facilities.-Katherine K. Koenig, Ellis Sch., Pittsburgh (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Thompson offers a chronological survey of literary works inspired by the story of the Trojan War, starting with the Iliad and Odyssey and concluding with Web sites related to Troy. The author devotes half the book to antiquity: in addition to Homer, the Greek tragedies of Aeschylus and Euripides, and, in Latin, Virgil's Aeneid. Then come some medieval takes on the theme, followed by Shakespeare, Racine, and Goethe. From there the author jumps to feminist readings produced in recent years and the multimedia survival of the story in movies, television series, and documentaries and on the Internet. The book offers plot summaries and short interpretations of each work. Thompson gives no rationale for her rather arbitrary selection of materials, and the amount of material she covers necessitates rather superficial treatment. The first chapter, which attempts to provide the historical and archeological background to the Trojan War and the Homeric poems, contains several errors of fact. In short, though the author asks why the story of Troy has retained its appeal to this day, her breezy treatment does not provide an adequate answer. ^BSumming Up: Not recommended for academic collections. P. Nieto Brown University

Table of Contents

Prefacep. 1
Introductionp. 5
1. Bronze Age Mycenae and Troy: Archaeological Evidencep. 13
2. Oral Poetry and the Troy Cyclep. 25
3. Homer's Iliad: The War at Troyp. 35
4. Homer's Odyssey: The Long Journey Homep. 59
5. Aeschylus' Agamemnon: Dead Heroes and Wild Women--Controlling the Pastp. 88
6. Euripides' Two Iphigenia Plays: Human Sacrifice and Resolutionp. 100
7. Virgil's Aeneid: Roman Transformation of Homeric Mythp. 112
8. Transmission of Troy Stories to the Middle Agesp. 126
9. Love Redeems Eneas; Love Destroys Achilles: Troy as Romancep. 138
10. Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde: The Christian Synthesisp. 154
11. Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida: Human Beings Alonep. 165
12. Improving Iphigenia: Racine and Goethe Modernize Evilp. 178
13. The Firebrand and The Gate to Women's Country: Women Revise the Trojan Pastp. 189
14. The Tradition Continues: Troy in the Twentieth Century and Beyondp. 202
Notesp. 219
Works Citedp. 221
Indexp. 231