Abstract–Trojan War by Homer: Retaliation, Narrative Order and Cretan Focus

The tale of the Trojan War passes through all Greek Classical Literature in an unusual transverse way. On the one hand, it could be a paradigm or a shadowy presence. On the other hand, it could acquire an intertextual degree or an ironical sense, but the Trojan War is constantly present as a mirror in which the Greeks looked for their own history. Homer was the paradigm for the later representations of the war, because the Greeks transformed the war into both an aesthetic and political object, even into a subject of philosophical reflection.

In this paper, I will tackle three special aspects of the Homeric narrative in relation to the Trojan War. Firstly, the inversion of the bellicose retaliation developed by Nestor in Iliad, who expresses the consequences of the dangerous pleasures of violence that might invade the warrior and expel him outside the community. Secondly, the Odyssey’s dialectic dissension, which presents, for the first time, a unique perspective when describing the problem of the order of events as a logical key to interpret a life story. And thirdly, as a consequence, why Odysseus needs to focus on the tale of the Trojan War offered in his apocryphal biographies as a Cretan.

My approach tries to understand why the ancient Greeks considered literature the best way to represent their history to show that in Homer the mythical version of the Trojan War offers a vision of a history based upon conflict, dissension and linguistic opposition.