Instead, the story is assembled from a variety of sources, some of which report contradictory versions of the events. The most important literary sources are the two epic poems traditionally credited to Homerthe Iliad and the Odysseycomposed sometime between the 9th and 6th centuries BC.
The Iliad covers a short period in the last year of the siege of Troy, while the Odyssey concerns Odysseus's return to his home island of Ithaca following the sack of Troy and contains several flashbacks to particular episodes in the war. Though these poems survive only in fragments, their content is known from a summary included in Proclus ' Chrestomathy. It is generally thought that the poems were written down in the 7th and 6th century BC, after the composition of the Homeric poems, though it is widely believed that they were based on earlier traditions.
Even after the composition of the Iliad, Odyssey, and the Cyclic Epics, the myths of the Trojan War were passed on orally in many genres of poetry and through non-poetic storytelling. Events and details of the story that are only found in later authors may have been passed on through oral tradition and could be as old as the Homeric poems. Visual art, such as vase paintingwas another medium in which myths of the Trojan War circulated.
The three great tragedians of Athens - AeschylusSophoclesand Euripides — wrote a number of dramas that portray episodes from the Trojan War. Among Roman writers the most important is the 1st century BC poet Virgil. Origins of the war Plan of Zeus According to Greek mythology, Zeus had become king of the gods by overthrowing his father Cronus ; Cronus in turn had overthrown his father Uranus.
Zeus was not faithful to his wife and sister Heraand had many relationships from which many children were born. Since Zeus believed that there were too many people populating the earth, he envisioned Momus  or Themis who was to use the Trojan War as a means to depopulate the Earth, especially of his demigod descendants.
Now all the gods were divided through strife; for at that very time Zeus who thunders on high was meditating marvelous deeds, even to mingle storm and tempest over the boundless earth, and already he was hastening to make an utter end of the race of mortal men, declaring that he would destroy the lives of the demi-gods, that the children of the gods should not mate with wretched mortals, seeing their fate with their own eyes; but that the blessed gods henceforth even as aforetime should have their living and their habitations apart from men.
But on those who were born of immortals and of mankind verily Zeus laid toil and sorrow upon sorrow. Judgement of Paris Zeus came to learn from either Themis  or Prometheusafter Heracles had released him from Caucasus that, like his father Cronus, he would be overthrown by one of his sons.
Another prophecy stated that a son of the sea-nymph Thetiswith whom Zeus fell in love after gazing upon her in the oceans off the Greek coast, would become greater than his father. They quarreled bitterly over it, and none of the other gods would venture an opinion favoring one, for fear of earning the enmity of the other two.
Eventually, Zeus ordered Hermes to lead the three goddesses to Paris, a prince of Troywho, unaware of his ancestry, was being raised as a shepherd in Mount Ida because of a prophecy that he would be the downfall of Troy. Paris was unable to decide between them, so the goddesses resorted to bribes. Athena offered Paris wisdom, skill in battle, and the abilities of the greatest warriors; Hera offered him political power and control of all of Asia ; and Aphrodite offered him the love of the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen of Sparta.
Paris awarded the apple to Aphrodite, and, after several adventures, returned to Troy, where he was recognized by his royal family. Thetis gives her son Achilles weapons forged by Hephaestus detail of Attic black-figure hydria— BC Peleus and Thetis bore a son, whom they named Achilles. It was foretold that he would either die of old age after an uneventful life, or die young in a battlefield and gain immortality through poetry.
Some of these state that she held him over fire every night to burn away his mortal parts and rubbed him with ambrosia during the day, but Peleus discovered her actions and stopped her. He grew up to be the greatest of all mortal warriors. After Calchas' prophesy, Thetis hid Achilles in Skyros at the court of King Lycomedeswhere he was disguised as a girl.
Her mother was Ledawho had been either raped or seduced by Zeus in the form of a swan. However, Helen is usually credited as Zeus' daughter,  and sometimes Nemesis is credited as her mother. Finally, one of the suitors, Odysseus of Ithacaproposed a plan to solve the dilemma.
In exchange for Tyndareus' support of his own suit towards Penelope he suggested that Tyndareus require all of Helen's suitors to promise that they would defend the marriage of Helen, regardless of whom he chose. The suitors duly swore the required oath on the severed pieces of a horse, although not without a certain amount of grumbling. Menelaus was a political choice on her father's part. He had wealth and power.
He had humbly not petitioned for her himself, but instead sent his brother Agamemnon on his behalf. He had promised Aphrodite a hecatomba sacrifice of oxen, if he won Helen, but forgot about it and earned her wrath. Before Helen could look up to see him enter the palace, she was shot with an arrow from Erosotherwise known as Cupidand fell in love with Paris when she saw him, as promised by Aphrodite.
Menelaus had left for Crete  to bury his uncle, Crateus. For Homer the true Helen was in Troy. The ship then landed in Sidon before reaching Troy.
Paris, fearful of getting caught, spent some time there and then sailed to Troy. Agamemnon agreed and sent emissaries to all the Achaean kings and princes to call them to observe their oaths and retrieve Helen.
In order to avoid the war, he feigned madness and sowed his fields with salt. Palamedes outwitted him by placing his infant son in front of the plough's path, and Odysseus turned aside, unwilling to kill his son, so revealing his sanity and forcing him to join the war.
Achilles' mother disguised him as a woman so that he would not have to go to war, but, according to one story, they blew a horn, and Achilles revealed himself by seizing a spear to fight intruders, rather than fleeing. All the suitors sent their forces except King Cinyras of Cyprus. Though he sent breastplates to Agamemnon and promised to send 50 ships, he sent only one real ship, led by the son of Mygdalion, and 49 ships made of clay.
Following a sacrifice to Apolloa snake slithered from the altar to a sparrow's nest in a plane tree nearby. It ate the mother and her nine babies, then was turned to stone. Calchas interpreted this as a sign that Troy would fall in the tenth year of the war. The oracle responded, "he that wounded shall heal". The Achaean fleet then set sail and was scattered by a storm. Achilles landed in Scyros and married Deidamia. A new gathering was set again in Aulis. Odysseus reasoned that the spear that had inflicted the wound must be able to heal it.
Pieces of the spear were scraped off onto the wound, and Telephus was healed. But when they had all reached Aulis, the winds ceased. The prophet Calchas stated that the goddess Artemis was punishing Agamemnon for killing either a sacred deer or a deer in a sacred grove, and boasting that he was a better hunter than she. They consisted of 28 contingents from mainland Greece, the Peloponnesethe Dodecanese islands, Creteand Ithacacomprising pentekontersships with 50 rowers.
Thucydides says  that according to tradition there were about ships, and that the Boeotian ships had men, while Philoctetes ' ships only had the fifty rowers, these probably being maximum and minimum.
These numbers would mean a total force of 70, tomen. Another catalogue of ships is given by the Bibliotheca that differs somewhat but agrees in numbers. Some scholars have claimed that Homer's catalogue is an original Bronze Age document, possibly the Achaean commander's order of operations.
Nothing is said of the Trojan language ; the Carians are specifically said to be barbarian-speakingand the allied contingents are said to have spoken multiple languages, requiring orders to be translated by their individual commanders. Philoctetes on Lemnos, with Heracles' bow and quiver Attic red-figure lekythosBC Nine years of war Philoctetes Philoctetes was Heracles ' friend, and because he lit Heracles's funeral pyre when no one else would, he received Heracles' bow and arrows.
They stopped either at Chryse Island for supplies,  or in Tenedosalong with the rest of the fleet. The wound festered and had a foul smell; on Odysseus's advice, the Atreidae ordered Philoctetes to stay on Lemnos. While landing on Tenedos, Achilles killed king Tenesson of Apollo, despite a warning by his mother that if he did so he would be killed himself by Apollo. The embassy was refused.
Finally, Protesilausleader of the Phylaceanslanded first. Hector killed Protesilaus in single combat, though the Trojans conceded the beach. In the second wave of attacks, Achilles killed Cycnusson of Poseidon.
The Trojans then fled to the safety of the walls of their city. This part of the war is the least developed among surviving sources, which prefer to talk about events in the last year of the war.
After the initial landing the army was gathered in its entirety again only in the tenth year. Thucydides deduces that this was due to lack of money. They raided the Trojan allies and spent time farming the Thracian peninsula.
Reinforcements continued to come until the very end. The Achaeans controlled only the entrance to the Dardanelles, and Troy and her allies controlled the shortest point at Abydos and Sestus and communicated with allies in Europe. According to Homer, Achilles conquered 11 cities and 12 islands. He took also Hypoplacian Thebes and Lyrnessus, and further Antandrusand many other cities. Patroclus sold him as a slave in Lemnos,  where he was bought by Eetion of Imbros and brought back to Troy.
Only 12 days later Achilles slew him, after the death of Patroclus. Polymestor surrendered Polydorusone of Priam's children, of whom he had custody. He then attacked the town of the Phrygian king Teleutas, killed him in single combat and carried off his daughter Tecmessa. Numerous paintings on pottery have suggested a tale not mentioned in the literary traditions.
At some point in the war Achilles and Ajax were playing a board game petteia. When scorned by PalamedesOdysseus challenged him to do better. Palamedes set out and returned with a shipload of grain. In revenge, Odysseus conceived a plot  where an incriminating letter was forged, from Priam to Palamedes,  and gold was planted in Palamedes' quarters. The letter and gold were "discovered", and Agamemnon had Palamedes stoned to death for treason. However, Pausanias, quoting the Cypria, says that Odysseus and Diomedes drowned Palamedes, while he was fishing, and Dictys says that Odysseus and Diomedes lured Palamedes into a well, which they said contained gold, then stoned him to death.
In revenge, Nauplius traveled among the Achaean kingdoms and told the wives of the kings that they were bringing Trojan concubines to dethrone them. Many of the Greek wives were persuaded to betray their husbands, most significantly Agamemnon's wife, Clytemnestrawho was seduced by Aegisthusson of Thyestes. According to the Cypria, Achilles forced the army to stay.
Iliad Chrysesa priest of Apollo and father of Chryseiscame to Agamemnon to ask for the return of his daughter. Agamemnon refused, and insulted Chryseswho prayed to Apollo to avenge his ill-treatment. Enraged, Apollo afflicted the Achaean army with plague. Agamemnon was forced to return Chryseis to end the plague, and took Achilles ' concubine Briseis as his own.
Enraged at the dishonour Agamemnon had inflicted upon him, Achilles decided he would no longer fight.