Returns from Troy

Returns from Troy

After the fall of Troy most Achaean heroes did not return to their homes. They had incurred the wrath of the gods due to their sacriligeous behaviour. Many founded colonies far outside the Greek mainland. The Romans later traced ancestry from Aeneas.

The sack of Troy

The Acheans entered the city using the Trojan Horse and slew the slumbering population. Priam and his surviving sons and grandsons were killed, Glaucus, son of Antenor who had earlier offered hospitality to the Achaean embassy that asked the return of Helen and had advocated so [Homer Iliad Γ.347-353] was spared, along with his family by Menelaus and Odysseus. Aeneas took his father on his back and fled. He was left alone because of his piety. [Apollodorus Epitome 5.21] The city was razed and the temples were destroyed.

Of the women of the royal family, Locrian Ajax violated Cassandra on Athena's altar while she was clinging to her statue, which since looks upward. [ Proclus Chrestomathy 2, The Sack of Ilium; Apollodorus Epitome 5.22] She was awarded to Agamemnon. Neoptolemus got Andromache, wife of Hector and Odysseus took Priam's widow Hecuba (known in Greek as Hecabe). [Apollodorus Epitome 5.23] The ghost of Achilles appeared before the survivors of the war, demanding that the Trojan princess Polyxena be sacrificed before anybody could leave, as either part of his spoil or because she had betrayed him. Neoptolemus did so. [Euripedes, Hecabe 109] [Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica xiv.210-328]

The Returns

News of Troy's fall quickly reached the Achaean kingdoms through a system of fire relays. A fire signal lit at Troy was seen at Lemnos, relayed to Athos, then to the look-out towers of Macistus on Euboea, across the Euripus straight to Messapion, then to Mount Cithaeron, Mount Aegiplanctus and finally to Mount Arachneus where it was seen by the people of Mycenae, including Clytaemnestra. [Aeschylus, "Agamemnon" 268-317]

But though the message was brought fast and with ease, the heroes were not to return this way. The Gods were very angry over the destruction of their temples and other sacrilegious acts by the Acheans and decided that most would not return. A storm fell on the returning fleet off Tenos island. Also Nauplius, in revenge for the murder of his son Palamedes by Odysseus, set up false lights in Cape Caphereus (also known today as Cavo D'Oro, on Euboea) and many were shipwrecked. [Apollodorus, "Epitome" 6.11]

Nestor, who had had the best conduct in Troy and did not take part in the looting, was the only hero who had a good, fast and safe return. [Apollodorus, "Epitome" 5.24] Those of his army that survived the war also reached home with him safely.

Locrian Ajax, who had endured more than the others the wrath of the Gods never returned. His ship was wrecked by a storm sent by Athena who borrowed one of Zeus' thunderbolts and tore it to pieces. The crew managed to land in a rock but Poseidon smote it and the Lesser Ajax fell in the sea and drowned. He was buried by Thetis on Myconos [Apollodorus Epitome 6.6] or Delos. [Scholiast on Homer's "Iliad" 13.66]

The archer Teucer, son of Telamon and brother of the other Ajax stood trial by his father for his brother's death. He was not allowed to land and was at sea near Phreattys in the Peiraeus. [Pausanias 1.28.11] He was acquitted of responsibility but found guilty of negligence because he did not return his dead body or his arms. He left with his army (who took their wives) and founded Salamis on Cyprus. [Pausanias 8.15.7] The Athenians later created a political myth that his son left his kingdom to Theseus' sons (and not to Megara).

Neoptolemus, following Helenus' advice (who accompanied him) travelled over land, always accompanied by Andromache. He met Odysseus and they buried Phoenix, Achilles' teacher, on the land of the Ciconians. Then they conquered the land of the Molossians (the Epirus) and had a child by Andromache, Molossus, to whom he later gave the throne. [Apollodorus, "Epitome" 6.12] Thus the kings of the Epirus claimed descendance from Achilles, as did Alexander the Great whose mother was of that royal house (Alexander and the kings of Macedon also claimed descendance from Hercules). Helenus founded a city in Molossia and inhabited it, and Neoptolemus gave him his mother Deidamia as wife. After Peleus died, he succeeded Phtia's throne as well. [Apollodorus, "Epitome" 6.13] He had a feud with Orestes, son of Agamemon, over Menelaus' daughter Hermione and he was killed at Delphi, where he was buried. [Apollodorus, "Epitome" 6.14] In Roman myths the kingdom of Phtia was taken over by Helenus, who married Andromache. They offered hospitality to other Trojan refugees, including Aeneas who paid a visit there during his wanderings.

Diomedes was first thrown by a storm on the coast of Lycia, where he was to be sacrificed to Ares by king Lycus, but Callirrhoe, the king's daughter, took pity upon him, and assisted him in escaping. [Plutarch, "Parallel lives Greeks and Romans" 23] . Then he accidentally landed in Attica at Phalerum. The Athenians, unaware that they were allies, attacked them. Many were killed and the Palladium was taken by Demophon. [Pausanias 1.28.9] He finally landed at Argos where his wife Aegialia was committing adultery and, in disgust, left for Aetolia. [Tzetzes ad Lycophronem 609] According to Roman traditions he had some adventures and founded a colony in Italy.

Philoctetes, because of a sedition, was driven from his city and emigrated to Italy where he founded the cities of Petilia, Old Crimissa, and Chone, between Croton and Thurii. [Strabo 6.1.3] After making war on the Leucanians he founded there a sanctuary of Apollo the Wanderer, to whom also he dedicated his bow. [Apollodorus, "Epitome" 6.15b]

For Homer, Idomeneus reached his house safe and sound. [Homer "Odyssey" γ 1.91] Another tradition was formed later. After the war, Idomeneus' ship hit a horrible storm. He promised Poseidon that he would sacrifice the first living thing he saw when he returned home if the god would save his ship and crew. The first living thing was his son, whom Idomeneus duly sacrificed. The gods were angry at his murder of his own son and they sent a plague to Crete. His people sent him into exile to Calabria in Italy, [Vergil, "Aeneid" 3.400] and then Colophon, in Asia Minor, where he died. [Scholiast on Homer "Odyssey" ν 259]

Among the lesser Achaeans very few reached their homes. Guneus, leader of the Aeneanians (the exact location is unknown but is believed to be in the Epirus), went to Libya and settled near the Cinyps river,Apollodorus, "Epitome" 6.15a] Antiphus son of Thessalus from Cos settled in Pelasgiotis and renamed it Thessaly after his father Thessalus,Apollodorus, "Epitome" 6.15b] Phidippus who had led an army from Cos settled on Andros, Agapenor from Arcadia settled in Cyprus [Apollodorus, "Epitome" 6.15] and founded Paphos. [Pausanias 8.5.2] Prothous from Magnesia settled in Crete, Menestheus king of Athens became king of Melos and Theseus' descendants ruled Athens for four more generations. [Pausanias 1.3.3] The army of Elephenor who had died in front of Troy settled in the Epirus and founded Apollonia. Tlepolemus king of Rhodes was driven by the winds and settled in the Balearic islands. Podalirius, following the instructions of the oracle at Delphi, settled in Caria. [Pausanias 3.26.10; Apollodorus, "Epitome" 6.18]

House of Atreus

According to the "Odyssey", Menelaus's fleet was blown by storms to Crete and Egypt where they were unable to sail away because the wind was calm. [Odyssey δ 360] Only 5 of his ships survived. [Apollodorus, Epitome 5.24] Menelaus had to catch Proteus, a shape-shifting sea god to find out what sacrifices to which gods he would have to make to guarantee safe passage. [Odyssey δ 382] According to some stories the Helen who was taken by Paris was a fake, and the real Helen was in Egypt where she was reunited with Menelaus at this point. Proteus also told Menelaus that he was destined for Elysium (the Fields of the Blessèd) after his death. Menelaus returned to Sparta with Helen 8 years after he had left Troy. [Apollodorus Epitome 6.29]

Agamemnon returned home with Cassandra to Mycenae. His wife Clytemnestra (Helen's sister) was having an affair with Aegisthus, son of Thyestes, Agamemnon's cousin who had conquered Argos before Agamemnon himself retook it. Possibly out of vengeance for the death of Iphigenia, Clytemnestra plotted with her lover to kill Agamemnon. Cassandra foresaw this murder, and warned Agamemnon, but he disregarded her. He was killed, either at a feast or in his bath [Pausanias 2.16.6] according to different versions. Cassandra was also killed. [Apollodorus, Epitome 6.23] Agamemnon's son Orestes, who had been away, returned and conspired with his sister Electra to avenge their father. [Odyssey α 30, 298] He killed Clytemnestra and Aegisthus and succeeded to his father's throne. [Pausanias 2.16.7] [Sophocles Electra 1405]

The Odyssey

Odysseus (or Ulysses), attempting to travel home, underwent a series of trials, tribulations and setbacks that stretched his journey to ten years' time. These are detailed in Homer's epic poem the Odyssey.

At first they landed in the land of the Ciconians in Ismara. After looting the land they were driven back with many casualties. A storm off Cape Maleas drove them to uncharted waters. They landed in the land of the Lotus-eaters. There a scouting party ate from the lotus tree and forgot evertything of home. The rest then set sail and landed at the land of Polyphemus, son of Poseidon. After a few were killed by him Odysseus blinded him and managed to escape, but earned Poseidon's wrath. They went next to the isle of Aeolus, god of winds. Odysseus was received hospitably by the Aeolus who gave him a favorable wind and a bag that contained the unfavorable wind. When Odysseus fell asleep in site of Ithaca his crew opened the bag, and the ships were driven away. In the next of the Laestrygonians next they neared, where the cannibalistic inhabitants sank his fleet (except Odysseus' ship) and ate the crew. Next they landed on Circe's island, who transformed most of the crew into pigs, but Odysseus managed to force her to tansform them back and left. Odysseus wished to speak to Tiresias, so he went the river Acheron in Hades, where they performed sacrifices which allowed them to speak to the dead. They gave them advice on how to procceed. Then, he went to Circe's island again. From there he set sail through the pass of the Sirens, whose sweet singing lure sailors to their doom. He had stopped up the ears of my crew with wax, and Odysseus alone listened while tied to the mast. Next was the pass of Scylla and Charybdis were he lost part of his ship's crew. The rest landed in the isle Thrinacia, sacred to Helius (the Sun), where he kept sacred cattle. Though Odysseus warned his men not to (as Tiresias had told him), they killed and ate some of the cattle. Helius thus shipwrecked the last ship and killed everyone except Odysseus. Odysseus was washed ashore on Ogygia, where the nymph Calypso lived. She made him her lover for seven years and would not let him leave, promising him immortality if he stayed. On behalf of Athena, Zeus intervened and sent Hermes to tell Calypso to let Odysseus go. Odysseus left on a small raft furnished with provisions of water, wine and food by Calypso, only to be hit by a storm and washed up on the island of Scheria and found by Nausicaa, daughter of King Alcinous and Queen Arete of the Phaeacians, who entertained him well and escorted him to Ithaca. On the twentieth day of sailing he arrived at his home on Ithaca.

There Odysseus traveled disguised as an old beggar by Athena he was recognised by his dog Argus, who died in his lap. Then he discovered his wife Penelope had been faithful to him all these years despite the countless suitors that were eating and spending his property all these years. With his son Telemachus' help and that of Athena and Eumaeus the swineherd, killed all of them except Medon, who had been polite to Penelope, and Phemius, a local singer who had only been forced to help the suitors against Penelope. Penelope tested him and made sure it was him, and he forgave her. On the next day the suitor's relatives tried to revenge on him but they were stopped by Athena.

Years later Odysseus' son by Circe, Telegonus came from the sea and plundered the island thinking it was Corcyra. Odysseus and Telemachus, defended their city and Telegonus accidentally killed his father with the spine of a stingray. He brought the body back to Aeaea and took Penelope and Telemachus with him. Circe made them immortal and married Telemachus, while Telegonus made Penelope his wife. [183] This is where the tale of the Trojan War for Greek mythology ends. According to a Roman tradition Odysseus did not die this way: when old he took a ship to sea and, crossing the Pillars of Heracles he discovered the estuary of the Tagus river and found there the city of Lisbon. [citation needed]

The Aeneid

Aeneas led a group of survivors away from the city, including his son Ascanius, his trumpeter Misenus, father Anchises, the healer Iapyx, all the Lares and Penates and Mimas as a guide. His wife Creusa was killed during the sack of the city. They fled Troy with a number of ships, seeking to establish a new homeland elsewhere. They landed in several nearby countries that proved inhospitable and finally were told by a Sibyl that they had to return to the land of their forebears. They first tried Crete, where Dardanus had once settled, but found it ravaged by the same plague that had driven Idomeneus away. They found the colony led by Helenus and Andromache, but declined to remain. After seven years they arrived in Carthage, where Aeneas had an affair with Dido. Eventually the gods ordered him to continue onward (Dido committed suicide), and he and his people arrived at the mouth of the Tiber in Italy. There a Sibyl took him to the underworld and foretold the majesty of Rome, which would be founded by his people. He negotiated a settlement with the local king, Lavinius, and was wed to his daughter, Lavinia. This triggered a war with other local tribes, which culminated in the founding of the settlement of Alba Longa, ruled by Aeneas and Lavinia's son Silvius. Three hundred years later, according to Roman myth, his descendants Romulus and Remus founded Rome. The details of the journey of Aeneas, his affair with Dido, and his settling in Italy are the subject of the Roman epic poem "The Aeneid" by Virgil. According to tradition though Carthage was founded in 814 BC, so the true Aeneas, if he had ventured to the West he would have found little more than villages.


ee also

* Trojan War
* Nostoi

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