Analytical Essay on Ancient Greek Gods and Trojan War

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King Laius of Thebes received a shocking oracle from the God of Truth, Apollo, that his son would slay the father and marry the mother. Immediately after his son was born, Laius left it on an isolated mountain. Several years later, the King was killed during an encounter with robbers.

At that time, Thebes was troubled by a Sphinx that nobody investigated the particular murderer. This Sphinx had the head of a woman, the haunches of a lion, and the wings of a bird. Nobody can pass it without either solving its riddle or being eaten raw.

Meanwhile, Oedipus, son of King Polybus of Corinth was foreseen that he would kill his father and sleep with his mother. Then, he was exiled out of Corinth; he traveled the world and decided to challenge himself with the Sphinx’s riddle. The Sphinx asked: “What is the creature that walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon, and three in the evening”. Oedipus answered: “Men. In childhood he creeps on hands and feet; in manhood, he walks erect; in old age, he helps himself with a staff.” He was correct, and the Sphinx killed itself.

As a reward to the heroic act, Thebes enthroned Oedipus and planned his wedding with the widowed queen Jocasta. Several years later, Oedipus discovered that King Laius was killed away from home at the time he wandered the world and killed a group that provoked him. Jocasta attempted to stop him from further discovery yet Oedipus was decisive. When the truth was revealed, Jocasta could not handle the situation and committed suicide. Traumatized by the event, Oedipus stabbed his eyes with his mother’s hairpin.

After the death of King Polybus of Corinth, the people of Thebes nominated Oedipus for the throne. However, with the immoral tragedies between him and his parents, Oedipus refused the position. Jocasta’s brother, Creon, became the regent. The Thebans were kind and accepting of Oedipus at first but eventually expelled him. Unwilling to let her sightless dad travel alone, Antigone accompanied Oedipus.

Since Oedipus was away, there was no family dilemma to hinder his sons, Polyneices and Eteocles, from aiming for the throne. Eteocles succeeded; he exiled his brother from Thebes. Polyneices sought revenge for his lost by gathering an army against their home country. Unfortunately, they speared through each other during the combat, and both passed away.

In light of the situation, Creon requested that no one who betrayed Thebes would receive a burial. Antigone was not swayed by the law but sought to bury her beloved brother during a sandstorm. Her action was reported to Creon, leading to her execution.

The Trojan war

Eris, the goddess of strife and discord, was not invited to the Olympus banquet. For revenge, she schemed to start a war among the goddesses by leaving a golden apple at the party carved 'For The Fairest.' Hera, Aphrodite, and Athena all believed they were worthy of the title. However, nobody could decide one among them. They went to Zeus for help, but Zeus wisely pointed to another man, Paris. Paris was the prince of Troy but lived the life of a shepherd because there was a prophecy that he would bring chaos to his country. All the three goddesses offered valuable gifts to gain the title, but Paris chose Aphrodite and her promise of the fairest woman in the world. The event was called 'The Judgement of Paris' and was known as the reason for the Trojan War.

The fairest woman at the time was Helen, the daughter of Zeus and Leda. Paris pretended to bond with Helen's husband, Menelaus and kidnapped Helen. The husband was angry when he realized Helen was gone. He invited the most heroic figures of Greece: Agamemnon, Achilles, Odysseus, Nestor, and Ajax to join the war against Troy.

It was the most challenging to have Achilles and Odysseus along in the war. For Odysseus, a prophecy predicted the Trojan war and claimed that he would not return long after it. When receiving the invitation, he pretended to go mad by plowing and sowing the field with grains of salt. The Greeks put his little son on the field; he stopped and had no further excuse not to join the war. For Achilles, a seer once told that he would die in the Trojan War. Hence, his mother burnt him and submerged him into the River Styx that carried the invulnerable flow from the gods. However, while she was sinking Achilles, she held his feet too tightly that his heels did not touch the water. His mother overheard Odysseus's invitation for Achilles to join the war she disguised him as a maiden and hid him. However, Odysseus eventually found Achilles and succeeded in convincing him.

The war went on for ten years, drawing the attention of the gods. The winning side shifted between Troy and Greece. Troy had Hector, a brave and heroic Commander in Chief while Greece had the undefeatable Achilles. During a fight, Achilles managed to knock down Hector. He also knew that following Hector's death, his was coming. Achilles killed Memnon in combat, but he let himself fell beside the Scaean gates and got shot by Paris, with Apollo's help in pointing out the heels.

Losing many great leaders, the Greeks realized that they had to get their army into the city of Troy and take the Trojans down by surprise. They built a wooden horse to hide the army inside. On the day they left the horse at the Scaean gates, Greek kept quiet and pretended defeat. The Trojans brought the horse inside their town to offer to Athena's temple. Late at night, the Greek army left the inside of the horse and took down Troy.


Agamemnon was Menelaus’s brother. He had one son, Orestes, and three daughters, including Electra. When Agamemnon returned from the Trojan War, he brought home Cassandra, princess of Troy, while his wife Clytemnestra was in an affair with his cousin, Aegisthus. They argued, and Clytemnestra killed Agamemnon along with Cassandra. Seeking revenge for his father, Orestes planned to kill his mother with Electra's help. Before Clytemnestra was killed, she cursed Orestes. The curse caused the anger of the Erinyes, the three goddesses of vengeance. In the end, Orestes was urged to death for his unfilial conduct while Electra was safe.

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A prophecy stated that Odysseus would not be able to return home long after the Trojan war. Therefore, when the Greeks came to invite, he acted mad and plowed with grains of salt until his son was placed in the way. With no more excuses, Odysseus joined the war.

After the Greeks won the Trojan war, Odysseus headed home. He dealt with the sea, overcame the unmotivated lure of the Lotus Eaters, and escaped from the giant Polyphemus by wisely pierced through its only eye. Odysseus also encountered the witch Circe, ventured to the Land of the Dead for the way home, overcame the luring Sirens, and had to sacrifice six of his men at The Scylla.

When they arrived at the island of Helios, the god of the sun, a storm struck them. While Odysseus was looking for guidance, despite his warning of protecting Helios’ cattle, one man said that starvation was the worst kind of death and decided to slaughter the best cattle. Helios went fury and killed the crew except for Odysseus. Leaving Helios’ island, Odysseus stayed at goddess Calypso’s island for seven years before Athena asked Zeus to release Odysseus. Zeus sent Hermes to Calypso; the goddess agreed to let Odysseus go.

On Odysseus’ way to Ithaca, Poseidon wrecked Odysseus’ ship with waves in revenge for the death of his son Polyphemus. Odysseus was drowned and drifted to Scheria, where Princess Nausica saved him. Her father, King Alcinous, further discovered about Odysseus’ origin and the Trojan war; he gave Odysseus a ship that took Odysseus home.

Meanwhile, many suitors claimed that Odysseus was dead and asked to marry his wife, Penelope. Seeing Odysseus at her front door, Penelope could not believe that it was Odysseus. She refused to let Odysseus in until he proved himself. Penelope requested that one must shoot an arrow through twelve Spartan bracelets with Odysseus’ bow to marry her. No men succeeded until Odysseus tried the bow. Penelope recognized Odysseus, and they bonded after 20 years.


Bacchus (or Dionysus) was the son of Zeus and princess Semele of Thebes. His mother died from the burning glory of Zeus but Zeus managed to snatch the baby out. Since Thebes was the only place where mortals can bear immortals, Bacchus was considered a god. He was born by fire, raised by nymphs, and nursed by rain. Therefore, his burning heat ripened the grapes and his water flourished plants. He became the God of Wine, of Fertility.

There are different stories of Midas in Greek and Roman mythology. On one side, he was the God of Joy. He had a train of worshippers, called the Maenads or the Bacchantes, that were frenzied with wine. Everywhere he went, there would be feasts and parties. On the other side, he was brutal and bloodthirsty. He and his train would parade through the woods, tear off any wild creatures on the way, and get drowned in their blood. Bacchus reflected the two sides of wine: it kept men warm yet caused violence.


He was King of Phrygia, the land of roses. One day, Silenus from Bacchus’ train lost his way into Midas’s garden. He was drunk and fell asleep in Midas’ garden. Midas welcomed Silenus and had him stay at his home for ten days before guiding him back to Bacchus. To thank Midas, Bacchus gave him a wish; Midas chose to turn everything he touched into gold. Bacchus noticed the odd thing about the wish yet still granted it to Midas. When Midas returned home and got hungry, he reached for food, but everything he was about to swallow all turned to gold.

Starved and thirsty, he came to Bacchus for help. Bacchus pointed Midas to the river Pactolus so that he could wash his hand in its river to invalidate the power. From then on, people can find gold in the Pactolus river.

Another time, Apollo and Pan chose Midas to be the judge for their musical contest. Midas chose Pan, which caused Apollo’s rage. He turned Midas’ ears into those of a donkey for his ignorance.

Humiliated, Midas hid his ears inside a hat, and only the servant that cut his hair knew. This servant could not stand the burden of the secret, so he dug a hole in a field and spoke to the ground that “King Midas has donkey’s ears.” From the hole grew spring reeds that whispered those buried words when the wind blew by. In the end, all men knew the truth about the King.

Leda and The Swan

'Leda and The Swan' was composed by Willian B. Yeats in 1923. The sonnet is about Leda and her beauty. Attracted with her look, Zeus turned into a swan to seduce and eventually raped her. After the event, she gave birth to Helen and Clytemnestra. The sonnet alluded that one was the cause of the Trojan War and one was the cause of Agamemnon’s death.


Zeus sent Prometheus and his brother, Epimetheus, to create humanity. Prometheus was bored by the limited resources; hence he stole the magical fire from Zeus for men. As a punishment, Zeus called upon Hephaestus, the god of fire and metal, to make a woman out of clay and named her Pandora. The gods gave her divine gifts: Athena blessed her with crafts, Aphrodite with grace. The Seasons adorned her with garlands of spring flowers, the Graces with jewelry. However, Hermes gave her curiosity and lies; Zeus gave her a jar that she was told not to open for the rest of her life.

Hermes later introduced Pandora to Epimetheus as his bride. One day, Pandora was curious. She opened the jar, releasing all the evils inside: diseases, wars, disasters. Nevertheless, she did not know that there were blessings following the evils. Pandora closed the box crying, closing the lids before “Anticipation” went out. The anticipation kept humans aware of their surroundings and kept them moving on from the evils.

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