Troy vs. the Iliad Essay

This essay has a total of 1371 words and 6 pages.

Troy vs. the Iliad

Over the thousands of years that the epic story the Iliad has survived, there has no doubt
been some form of alteration to Homer's original. Last May, Wolfgang Petersen directed a
movie based on the Iliad. This movie, Troy, has proven to be a very loose adaptation of
Homer's original, as are almost all stories that are made into movies, unfortunately. With
its timeless storyline, amazing scenery, gorgeous actors/actresses and most of all, its
reported two hundred million dollar budget, it is easy to see why Troy was hyped up to be
a box office hit. However, the film critics were harsh on this movie, as they had every
right to be, and it ended up being a total flop. Compared to Homer's Iliad, Troy is rather
disappointing. But, to be fair, one must keep in mind the limitations of a movie compared
to those of a book, and the fact that the title is Troy, not the Iliad. It really is not
as bad as expected. Troy is Homer's Iliad gone to Hollywood. There probably are just as
many similarities as differences from the original. The three major upsetting differences
in Troy compared to the Iliad are the absence of the Gods, the weak character and plot
development, and the addition, exclusion, and reversal of key points.

First and most disappointing, was the absence of the Gods in the movie Troy. Divine
intervention was a major variable in Homer's Iliad. The Gods affected every aspect of this
poem. While the Gods were mentioned and the viewers were made well aware that the
characters believe in the Gods, the only God that was physically seen was Thetis, Goddess
of the Sea and Achilles' mother. One memorable quote from the movie was in a conversation
between Achilles and Briseis. Briseis states, "All the Gods are to be feared and
respected" (Troy 2004). Achilles answers by saying:

Can I tell you a secret, something they don't teach you in your temple?
The Gods envy us. They envy us because we're mortal, because any
moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we're
doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are right now. We will
never be here again (Troy 2004).
The suspected start of the war- over the abduction of Helen, Queen of Sparta- was caused
entirely by a godly conflict over who was the most beautiful- Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite.
Paris, son of King Priam of Troy, was selected to judge. He chose Aphrodite, who in turn
gave him Helen, who was her equivalent in beauty amongst humans. In both versions, Paris
is portrayed as a wife stealing, thief in the night. His brother Hector and he were on a
peace mission in Sparta on behalf of Troy visiting the king, Menelaus, when Paris ran off
with Menelaus' wife, Helen. This action divides the Gods who constantly meddle with the
mortal's lives. Naturally, Aphrodite is on the Trojans' side, as was her lover and God of
War, Ares, and Apollo. Although Zeus, King of Gods, tried to be neutral, he was
pro-Trojan. Hera, Queen of Gods, and Athena help the Greeks because they were mad that
Paris chose Aphrodite. Poseidon, God of the Sea and Zeus' brother, also sided with the
Greeks whenever Zeus was not looking. An example of this constant intrusiveness of the
Gods in the Iliad was when King "Menelaus hurls his spear, lightly wounding Paris. Paris'
helmet strap becomes caught at his chin and Menelaus has nearly dragged him away before
Aphrodite intervenes, breaking the strap. She then wraps Paris in a mist, sets him in his
own perfumed bedchamber, and hurries to catch Helen" (Bloom 13). Of course, in the movie
version, when Paris becomes wounded he crawls to Hector's ankles. King Menelaus becomes
angered and says Paris is not worthy of royalty nor his wife Helen. Hector is then forced
to defend his little brother and kills Menelaus. The elimination of the Gods from Troy,
although unsatisfactory, does simplify the movie compared to the complicated plot of the
Iliad. Wolfgang Petersen may have had motivation to remove the Gods because it may have
been difficult for most Americans to imagine the actions and motivations of the Gods since
a Christian or modern God doesn't normally take such an involved position in a person's
daily life. Therefore, this absence gave the movie a more humanized feel while taking some
of the mystique out of this legend.

Next, the characters and the plot in Troy are weakly developed in comparison to the Iliad.
The Iliad is completely the opposite. All of the characters and the plot are very
descriptively illustrated for the reader. Nothing is left to the imagination. On the other
hand, Troy leaves much to the imagination. The entire war is downplayed by being portrayed
as having taken place in just a few short weeks. As for the characters, Achilles, although
brave, just does not quite live up to his hero status. Hector is depicted as more of a
hero than Achilles, another contradiction from the original. It seemed clear in the Iliad
that Achilles was the protagonist, but in the movie, it seemed Hector took much of the
hero factor. "One of the Iliad's outstanding contributions to human civilization, for good
and for evil, is its concept of the hero" (Nardo 90). This concept of a hero in Troy is
definitely vague and somewhat distorted. Most of the main characters have such petty
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