Tuesday, March 15, 2016

HOMER vs. HOLLYWOOD: Troy

1.        Agamemnon has united Greece into a loose alliance except for Thessaly. 
2.       Achilles is a soldier in Agamemnon’s army.  They dislike each other.  He fights a duel with Thessaly’s champion. 
3.       Achilles main motivation was to be remembered. 
4.       Paris and Hector visit Menelaus to negotiate a treaty.  Hector elopes with Helen. 
5.       Agamemnon uses the elopement as an excuse to destroy Troy and control the Aegean Sea. 
6.       Odysseus visits Achilles to recruit him
7.       Achilles’ mom tells him he can live long and be forgotten or die a glorious death. 
8.       Briseis is a priestess of Apollo and cousin to Paris and Hector. 
9.       Hector wants Priam to send Helen back, but he refuses. 
10.    Achilles lands first.  His men form a testudo.  The Myrmidons force the Trojans to retreat.  Achilles sacks the temple of Apollo.  He confronts Hector, but lets him go so he can fight another day. 
11.    Achilles and Agamemnon argue over who gets credit for the victory. 
12.    Agamemnon takes Briseis away to show who is boss. 
13.    Paris ends a debate on what to do by proclaiming his desire to duel Menelaus. 
14.    Achilles sulks over the loss of Briseis and forbid his men to fight. 
15.    Menelaus and Paris duel between the armies.  Menelaus easily wins, but Paris flees to Hector.  Hector kills Menelaus.  A big battle ensues with Trojan archers turning the tide.       
16.    Hector kills Ajax.
17.    Agamemnon returns Briseis to Achilles.  She and Achilles have sex.  Achilles still refuses to return to the fighting. 
18.    The Trojans attack at night using fire balls. 
19.    Patroclus leads a counterattack disguised as Achilles.  Hector kills him thinking he is Achilles. 
20.    Achilles duels Hector after calling him out.  Hector asks for a proper burial, but Achilles sneers at his request.  Achilles stabs Hector in the shoulder and finishes him with his sword.  He then drags the body back to the Greek camp. 
21.    Priam visits Achilles to beg for his son’s body. 
22.    Odysseus builds the Trojan Horse from ship timbers. 
23.    Paris wants to burn the horse, but Priam decides to bring it into the city.
24.    Odysseus and Achilles are in the horse.  They kill the sentries to let the Greek army in.    
25.    Paris gives the Sword of Troy to the young Aeneas. 
26.    Andromache and Helen escape. 
27.    Agamemnon kills Priam by stabbing him from behind. 
28.    Achilles works his way to Briseis.  Briseis kills Agamemnon.    
29.    Paris shoots Achilles in the ankle and then several other places.   
30.    Paris and Briseis escape.   

31.    The war lasts 17 days. 

THE ANSWERS

1.       Agamemnon has united Greece into a loose alliance except for Thessaly.  HOMERWOOD  Agamemnon was the dominant king among the Greek kings.  A war with Thessaly is made up for the movie.
2.       Achilles is a soldier in Agamemnon’s army.  They dislike each other.  He fights a duel with Thessaly’s champion.  HOLLYWOOD  Achilles was not in Agamemnon’s army.  There is no evidence that they disliked each other before the Briseis conflict.  The duel is pure Hollywood.  Achilles would have used a spear, not a sword and would not have leaped in the air to stab an opponent in the neck.
3.       Achilles main motivation was to be remembered.  HOMER  Every great Greek warrior would have been motivated by the desire for arête.  In this context, it refers to excellence in combat and fulfilling your potential.  Achilles is properly depicted as fighting for glory.
4.       Paris and Hector visit Menelaus to negotiate a treaty.  Hector elopes with Helen.  HOMERWOOD  Paris had been promised the most beautiful woman in exchange for choosing Aphrodite in a beauty contest.  He was supposedly visiting Sparta as an ambassador, but was really there to claim his bribe.  Menelaus was away from home when the two hooked up.  Helen does elope with him, but she might have been under a love spell from Aphrodite.
5.       Agamemnon uses the elopement as an excuse to destroy Troy and control the Aegean Sea.  HOLLYWOOD  Agamemnon got involved because his brother Menelaus reminded him of his (and the other Greek kings’) pledge to go to war over Helen.  If there was an actual war, it would have been more of a raid rather than an attempt to conquer.
6.       Odysseus visits Achilles to recruit him.  HOMERWOOD  Odysseus was sent to get Achilles who was trying to avoid the fighting (as per his parents’ wishes) by hiding out disguised as a female amongst a group of gals.  Odysseus tricks him into revealing his maleness by including weapons among his gifts for the ladies.
7.       Achilles’ mom tells him he can live long and be forgotten or die a glorious death.  HOMERWOOD  There was no goodbye scene between the two, but his mother would have been aware of the prediction that Achilles was destined to die a young, but glorious death.  She had tried to keep him from the war, but he would have preferred the glorious death, plus the peer pressure.
8.       Briseis is a priestess of Apollo and cousin to Paris and Hector.  HOLLYWOOD  Briseis was not related to the royal family.  She was a princess of Lyrnessus.  Her husband and family had been killed in a raid by Achilles.  The priestess of Apollo was Chryseis who had been taken by Agamemnon.  She was a priestess of Apollo.  Apollo inflicted a plague on the Greek camp which resulted in Agamemnon releasing her and claiming Briseis as his backup concubine.   
9.       Hector wants Priam to send Helen back, but he refuses.  HOMERWOOD  There is no evidence that Hector urged this.   It was suggested by an advisor named Centenor, but Paris refused to consider it and his father backed him up.
10.    Achilles lands first.  His men form a testudo.  The Myrmidons force the Trojans to retreat.  HOLLYWOOD  It was prophesied that the first man ashore was destined to die.  That man was Protesilaus who was promptly killed by Hector.  The formation called a testudo was invented by the Romans many years later.  The Trojans did retreat from the beachhead, but it was a combined effort by the Greeks and the Myrmidons are not singled out in the legend.
11.    Achilles sacks the temple of Apollo.  He confronts Hector, but lets him go so he can fight another day.  HOLLYWOOD  This might be based on the sacking of Apollo’s temple which resulted in the capturing of Chryseis, but otherwise it is bull shit.
12.    Achilles and Agamemnon argue over who gets credit for the victory.  HOLLYWOOD  The argument started with a rant by Achilles about not getting enough of a share of the spoils.  Agamemnon tells him to go home, the Greeks don’t need him.  He accuses him of being arrogant and hot-headed which was pretty spot-on.
13.    Agamemnon takes Briseis away to show who is boss.  HOMER  Agamemnon needed a replacement for Chryseis, but part of his motivation was to show Achilles who had the power.    
14.    Paris ends a debate on what to do by proclaiming his desire to duel Menelaus.  HOMERWOOD  Before one of the battles, Paris gets the bright idea to challenge the best Greek warrior to a duel.  When Menelaus jumped at the chance, Paris has a change of heart.  Hector accuses his brother of cowardice and shames him into fighting 
15.    Achilles sulks over the loss of Briseis and forbid his men to fight.  HOMER  The movie leaves out the role of the gods so it does not cover Achilles having his mother convince Zeus to help the Trojans win.  Achilles was a true patriot!
16.    Menelaus and Paris duel between the armies.  Menelaus easily wins, but Paris flees to Hector.  Hector kills Menelaus.  A big battle ensues with Trojan archers turning the tide.  HOLLYWOOD  Paris throws a spear which bounces off Menelaus’ shield.  Menelaus throws his spear which penetrates Paris’ shield and almost kills him.  Menelaus sword breaks, but he begins pulling Paris back to the Greek line by his helmet.  Aphrodite cuts the helmet chin strap and deposits him in bed with Helen.  Athena gets a Trojan to wound Menelaus with an arrow to reignite the war.  Hector does not kill Menelaus!     
17.    Hector kills Ajax.  HOMERWOOD  Hector proposed a truce and duel with a Greek champion.  Ajax was chosen by lot.  Both threw spears twice, then rocks, then closed with swords.  Heralds from each side parted them and they exchanged gifts.  Ajax actually died from suicide after Achilles died and Agamemnon awarded his armor to Odysseus.  Ajax lost his mind and fell on his sword.
18.    Agamemnon returns Briseis to Achilles.  She and Achilles have sex.  Achilles still refuses to return to the fighting.  HOMER  Despite having had her family killed by him, Briseis developed feelings for Achilles.  They probably were having sex, although he had several other concubines.  She certainly grieved over his death.
19.    The Trojans attack at night using fire balls.  HOLLYWOOD  Do I have to tell you that this is bull crap?  When Hollywood can’t justify explosions, fire is the next option.  There is a germ of this in the Trojan daytime assault that burned at least one of the parked ships.
20.    Patroclus leads a counterattack disguised as Achilles.  Hector kills him thinking he is Achilles.  HOMERWOOD  Achilles allowed Patroclus to borrow his armor and take the Myrmidons.  He even tells Patroclus not to fear Hector.  The Myrmidons led the counterattack that evicted the Trojans from the camp.  Patroclus killed several Trojan heroes.  Hector knows it’s Patroclus.  Apollo confuses Patroclus and he is stabbed from behind by a Trojan, Hector finishes him with a spear thrust from in front.  When Achilles is informed, he regrets staying out of the fighting and vows revenge.  His mother goes to Hephaestus to make new armor.  Briseis is returned at this point.
21.    Achilles duels Hector after calling him out.  Hector asks for a proper burial, but Achilles sneers at his request.  Achilles stabs Hector in the shoulder and finishes him with his sword.  He then drags the body back to the Greek camp.  HOMERWOOD  Achilles initiates his revenge mission by leading the Greeks into battle.  He searches the battlefield for Hector who is hanging back.  Hector approaches after Achilles kills one of his younger brothers.  He is wearing Achilles’ original armor.  Athena deflects Hector’s spear and then Apollo engulfs Hector in a mist so Achilles cannot strike him.  Achilles rampages over the battlefield killing so many Trojans that the survivors retreat into the city except for Hector.  When Achilles nears, Hector loses his nerve and runs away.  Achilles chases around the city four times.  Athena tricks Hector into making a stand by pretending to be his brother who will have his back.  Before the duel commences, Hector proposes they treat each other’s corpse with respect.  Achilles scorns the deal.  Achilles throws his spear and misses.  Hector’s spear bounces off Achilles’s shield.  Athena gives Achilles back his spear.  Hector closes with his sword, but Achilles stabs Hector in the neck and kills him.  Priam and Hecuba watch from the wall. Achilles ties Hector’s body to the back of his chariot and drags it around the city and eventually back to his tent.
22.    Priam visits Achilles to beg for his son’s body.  HOMER  This scene actually happens twelve days after the duel.  Achilles is feasting with his friends when Priam arrives.
23.    Odysseus builds the Trojan Horse from ship timbers.  HOMER  It was Odysseus’ idea, but probably constructed from wood from a sacred tree.
24.    Paris wants to burn the horse, but Priam decides to bring it in.  HOMERWOOD  Paris is no longer around to offer advice.  A Trojan named Laocoon tries to warn about the “gift”, but a sea serpent sent by Posiedon silences him and helps convince Priam that the offering to Athena should be brought into the city.
25.    Odysseus and Achilles are in the horse.  They kill the sentries to let the Greek army in.  HOMERWOOD  Achilles is not alive at this point, but his son Neoptolemus is one of the horse fetuses.  They do kill the sentries and open the gates for the Greek army and the sacking begins. 
26.    Paris gives the Sword of Troy to the young Aeneas.  HOLLYWOOD  There was no “Sword of Troy”.  Aeneas was one of the greatest Trojan warriors, not an unknown boy.
27.    Andromache and Helen escape.  HOLLYWOOD  Andromache was enslaved, but her and Hector’s son was murdered.  Menelaus intended to kill Helen, but her beauty made him reconsider and they lived happily ever after.
28.    Agamemnon kills Priam by stabbing him from behind.  HOMERWOOD  Neopotolemus kills Priam.
29.    Achilles works his way to Briseis.  Briseis kills Agamemnon.  HOLLYWOOD  Achilles is dead at this time.  Agamemnon survives the war, but is killed by his wife Clytemnestra when he is taking a bath upon his return to his palace. 
30.    Paris shoots Achilles in the ankle and then several other places.  HOMERWOOD  Paris had earlier been killed by an arrow shot by Philoctetes.  Before this, he had shot Achilles in the heel with a poison arrow having learned of Achilles’ vulnerable spot from one of his sisters who had cozied up to Achilles to get revenge for the death of Hector. 
31.    Paris and Briseis escape.  HOLLYWOOD  Briseis ends up with one of Achilles’ men. 
32.    The war lasts 17 days. HOLLYWOOD  It actually lasted ten years, which is known to anyone with half a brain.


RATING  =  40.3

2 comments:

  1. Casting affects scripting. The movie versions of The Searchers and The Shootist softened the lead characters slightly, probably to conform to John Wayne's good guy image. A secondary character in the novel The New Centurions was built up into a co-star in the movie when George C. Scott was cast in the role.

    Similarly, casting Brad Pitt as Achilles meant that he would be the main character, and that he would have to be around for the final battle.

    In Helen of Troy (1956), Paris is a tragic hero, Helen voluntarily elopes, and the evil Greeks use the phony "abduction" as a pretext to attack (and loot) Troy. Achilles is a relatively minor character. He kills Hector (and desecrates the body), and is killed by Paris immediately afterward. The final battle comes later.

    The Trojan War (aka The Trojan Horse) (1961) is mainly told from the Trojans' side (although there are good guys and bad guys on both sides). The hero is Aeneas (played by Steve Reeves, who was very popular in Italy at the time).

    IIRC, the Iliad did not have any mention of Achilles' invulnerability, and, in fact, it said he wore armor.

    Reading Bullfinch and Edith Hamilton in high school, I was struck by how the great Greek heroes were actually draft dodgers. Achilles and Odysseus both did a Corporal Klinger act, the former wearing women's clothing and the latter pretending to be stark raving bonkers, to evade serving.

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