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The Truth Behind Helen of Troy and the Trojan War: Background information when reading A Thousand Ships

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A Thousand Ships

by Natalie Haynes

A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes X
A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2021, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2021, 368 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Will Heath
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About this Book

The Truth Behind Helen of Troy and the Trojan War

This article relates to A Thousand Ships

Head of Helen of Troy, painting by Guido Reni The story of the Trojan War, fought between the Greeks and the people of Troy, has been told and retold for thousands of years. This is in large part thanks to the efforts of Homer, the ancient Greek poet who penned the Iliad and Odyssey, recordings of epic stories set during and after the war. Legendary figure Helen of Troy plays a significant role in depictions of the conflict, which is said to have been sparked when she was whisked away from her husband Menelaus, king of Sparta, by the Trojan prince Paris. But did the Trojan War actually happen, even if it didn't occur exactly as Homer and his contemporaries described it? Where was Troy and who was Helen?

As explained in a BBC article by Daisy Dunn, the Greek historian Herodotus, who lived in the 5th century BCE, placed the Trojan War nearly 800 years previous to his own time, within the late Bronze Age. When the poets and playwrights of ancient Greece were telling stories of the war, they generally believed it to have really...

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