What were the differences between the Trojan War as described in the Iliad of Homer and the movie Troy?

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In the movie, Briseis (Achilles's female captive) is related to Hector, which is not part of the epic. Briseis is taken away from Achilles very early on in the epic, but not until relatively later in the movie. On the other hand, absent from the movie is a dream sent by Zeus to Agamemnon, which alerts the king that Troy will fall if the Achaeans attack immediately. Another pivotal moment in the epic that is not represented in the film is when Aphrodite rescues Paris at the moment he is about to be killed in a one-on-one duel with Menelaus. In the film, it is Hector who intervenes and kills Menelaus. Many of the scenes omitted from the film involve representation of the gods' intervention—a hallmark of epic literature.

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There are many differences between Homer's Iliad and the 2004 movie Troy, starring Brad Pitt as Achilles. One, in particular, is the duration of the war. For cinematic purposes, all the key moments are compacted into a short time (just under three weeks) to create a sensational adventure. It's important to note that the siege of ancient Troy lasted ten years. When the wooden horse arrived at the gates of Troy, for instance, Achilles was already killed, so the timeline of events is skewed in the film.

Other examples of differences include the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus, played by the actor Garrett Hedlund. In Troy, Patroclus is referred to as a cousin. In the Iliad, however, Patroclus was Achilles close comrade, perhaps even his lover, and someone he would've fought to protect and ensure his safety.

The details are a little different between the book and film on how exactly Patroclus was killed. In the Iliad, the god Apollo intervenes during a battle and removes Patroclus's ability to fight skillfully; Euphorbos then hits him with a spear. After, Hector steps in and kills Patroclus by stabbing him in the stomach with another spear. In the film, however, Hector euthanized him. True to the book, Achilles's grief fuels his revenge on Hector in the film.

Lastly, it's important to note that the end of the film was not from the Iliad, which ends with Hector's death. Instead, the filmmakers took some liberties and used Homer's other book, The Odyssey, to recreate a new ending that delivers the victory and sack of Troy.

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This is a good question. All movies take liberties and there is nothing wrong with this. Let me give you a list of differences.

  • In Homer's Iliad, the gods are all over the place, in the movie the gods do not play a huge role. This is to be expected, because it would be difficult to depict the gods in a film.
  • In the movie Hector kills Menelaus. In the Iliad Menelaus does not die at all. Moreover, the movie portrays Menelaus as weak. In the ancient tradition, he is much more capable leader.
  • In the movie, Achilles and other Greeks are inside the Trojan Horse. The Iliad does not mention this; more importantly, Achilles before this action.
  • Ajax and Agamemnon both survive in the Greek tradition, whereas the movie kills them off. Also there is a great tragedy about the death of Agamemnon at the hand of his wife.
  • The role of prophecy is limited in the movie Troy. For example, Cassandra plays no role.
  • Many major characters are not mentioned in the movie, such as Diomede, who plays a large role in the book. Also there is mention of Aeneas, but he is little mentioned in the book. I suspect they may want to make a part two with Aeneas.

To be fair, a two hour movie cannot do justice to one of the greatest books of all time.


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