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Differences & Similarities Between The Iliad & Troy

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  • 0:05 Inspired by Homer
  • 0:44 Of Gods and Men
  • 2:06 Achilles
  • 3:31 Comparing Narrative Structure
  • 4:48 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ivy Roberts

Ivy is a doctoral student at Virginia Commonwealth University studying media studies and cultural history.

In this lesson, we'll discuss the differences and similarities between Homer's 'The Iliad' and Wolfgang Petersen's 2004 film 'Troy.' We'll learn about the characters in each version and how the film alters Homer's storyline.

Inspired by Homer

Wolfgang Petersen's 2004 film, Troy, isn't historically accurate and it isn't faithful to its literary source. But, at a run-time of nearly three hours, Troy is the most thorough screen adaptation of the story of the Trojan War.

The film's credits make clear that Troy was 'inspired by' Homer's The Iliad. This informs our experience of the film, and it contains a lot of events that Homer never wrote about. The film also omits a lot of characters and subplots from The Iliad.

Throughout the lesson, we'll talk about the similarities and differences between the epic poem and the film adaptation.

Of Gods and Men

The most apparent difference Troy has from The Iliad is its absence of Olympian gods, the Greek pantheon of deities who reside on Mount Olympus. In The Iliad, Homer emphasizes the role of the gods in the Trojan War. It seems that, at every turn in the story, the outcomes are predetermined by the gods.

For example, Athena plays an important role by helping Odysseus rally the Greek troops. Apollo backs the Trojans when he helps Hector kill Patroclus. Poseidon lets loose a great wave, pushing the Greek boats onto the shore and into the clutches of the attacking Trojan army.

The absence of the gods in Troy allows the film to emphasize human interactions, character development, and romantic relationships. We get a picture of human beings in control of their own destiny. For example, in one important scene, Achilles and his army of Myrmidons, legendary warriors from Thessaly who fight for Achilles, ransack Apollo's temple in Troy. Hector confronts them, aggravated and bereaved over the slaying of the Apollonian priests. Troy depicts the conflict between Achilles and Hector, while Apollo himself remains silent.

Along with removing the gods and goddesses as characters from the story, the film also excludes several important human characters, including Oenone, Chryseis, and Protesilaus.

Achilles

One major similarity of Homer's The Iliad and Petersen's Troy is their depiction of Achilles, a demigod thought to be invincible. Though both stories consist of ensemble casts, Achilles clearly stands out as their hero. In The Iliad, Homer portrays Achilles as a demigod with magical armor, invincible but for his heel. In Troy, Achilles is a hot-blooded, masterful warrior who is spiteful of the gods and driven to achieve glory.

In one early scene, Agamemnon sends a boy to Achilles' camp to bring the warrior to the battlefield. The first appearance of Achilles shows him lying naked in bed with several women. The boy is in awe of the lore surrounding Achilles. Their exchange suggests that Achilles is more warrior than demigod.

'They say your mother is an immortal goddess. They say you can't be killed.'

'I wouldn't be bothering with the shield, then, would I?'

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