Was this the face that launched a thousand ships and burnt the topless towers of Ilium? asked Christopher Marlowe in Dr Faustus.
Ilium, the city of Troy, canvas of heroes. On the fields of Troy Homer introduced us to Ajax, Agamemnon, Menelaus, Priam, Hector, Paris and a cast of thousands. Achilles the almost invincible and his lover Patroclus. Cassandra who saw the future but was cursed never to be believed. The wily Odysseus, AKA Ulysses and his 20 year journey home. The seeds planted in Troy have germinated and multiplied to inspire a wealth of literature from ancient to modern times.
The Julii Caesares, who gave us Caesar and Augustus, claimed descent from the hero Aeneas who fled from burning Troy with his bride, a daughter of Priam. Virgil made a career of that tale in the court of the First Emperor of Rome.
It was ostensibly on this day, April 24th in the year 1184 BC that Troy was sacked and burned by the Greeks. For many that was as far as the myth went. Then Heinrich Schliemann, a German Businessman, decided that there was no smoke without fire. So he read Homer as a travel guide instead of as a legend. He followed the clues and lo and behold he found the ancient city. Burned, exactly as described.
He bedecked his wife in the jewelry he found there and put her on display for high society to see. Then he followed more clues and found the tomb of Agamemnon at Mycenae. A new form of archaeology was born and led to many discoveries all over the world. Today the science has evolved to the point where Satellite images from earth orbit are being used to search for ancient sites.
No Second Troy; by William Butler Yeats
Why should I blame her that she filled my days
with misery, or that she would of late
have taught to ignorant men most violent ways,
or hurled the little streets upon the great,
had they but courage equal to desire?
What could have made her peaceful with a mind
that nobleness made simple as a fire,
with beauty like a tightened bow, a kind
that is not natural in an age like this,
being high and solitary and most stern?
Why, what could she have done, being what she is?
Was there another Troy for her to burn?