What event triggers the war in the Iliad?

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The war in the Iliad starts after Paris, a Trojan, abducts Helen from her husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta. In response, Menelaus asks his brother, Agamemnon, to assemble a band of heroes like Odysseus and Achilles to defeat Troy and bring Helen home.

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The Iliad is Homer's fictionalized representation of the events of the Trojan War. Although the war between Troy and Greece had many causes, the single incident that has most often been immortalized as the cause is the abduction of Helen. The romantic aspect of the incident makes it a more appealing—even fascinating—reason for a war, as contrasted to the often tedious details of the affairs of state.

In Homer's epic, Paris, prince of Troy, steals Helen away from her husband, Menelaus. He feels justified in taking her because Aphrodite, goddess of love, had promised him the world's most beautiful woman. After the abduction, the Greeks rally behind Menelaus and set out to get her back. Agamemnon, one of the valiant Greeks, is Menelaus's brother.

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What started the war in the Iliad?

The events that set the war in the Iliad in motion start when the wife of Priam, the king of Troy, dreams that her unborn son Paris will cause the fall of Troy. Therefore, after the pregnant queen gives birth, the royal couple has the infant exposed. However, as is often the case in these stories, shepherds save the child and raise him.

At the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, Eris, the goddess of discord, throws a golden apple into the midst of the festivities. The apple is addressed as a gift to most beautiful woman there. This starts a fight between three goddesses: Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite. To settle the quarrel, Paris is brought in to decide which of these three is the fairest.

Aphrodite, the goddess of love, best understands how to influence Paris and offers him the most beautiful woman in the world if he will choose her. He agrees and obtains Helen, the fairest woman in all creation. However, Helen already happens to be married to the king of Sparta, Menelaus. Menelaus is very unhappy that his wife has been abducted by Paris. He convinces his brother, Agamemnon, to lead an expedition to take back Helen from the Trojan prince.

Agamemnon agrees and assembles a fleet of 1,000 warships, as well as the aid of such heroic warriors as Achilles and Odysseus. This is the beginning of the ten-year Trojan War.

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