The City of Troy is known for being the location of the famous Trojan war between the Greeks and Trojans. This war is described in Homer's Iliad, an Ancient Greek epic poem. But was Troy just a literary or mythological location or does it really exist to this day? If so, where is it?
Troy is a mythological city and does not existShow moreShow less
Before 1870, nearly all scholars believed that Troy was a mythological place. There is still not enough evidence to prove it existed.
Homer wrote The Iliad hundreds of years after the Trojan War
The Troy that we know and are fascinated by largely comes from Homer's Iliad, yet Homer did not even exist during the time he's writing about. He lived hundreds of years later, meaning historical accuracy is hugely unlikely.
While it is not known for sure, it is thought that Homer lived between 1100 and 800 BCE. Some scientists, however, believe the Iliad was written around 762 BCE. According to reports from Herodotus, the 'Father of History', and Eratosthenes, a Greek mathematician, the Trojan War occurred around 1184 BCE. If this is the case, Homer wrote about the war a considerable length after it happened.
The fact that Homer lived potentially hundreds of years after the Trojan war occurred casts doubt on the validity of his account in the Iliad. The fact that he is an unreliable narrator also casts doubt on the existence of Troy in the first place. There are certainly other fabricated locations in Homer's epics: take Calypso's island and Scheria, land of the Phaeacians, in the Odyssey. If we understand that Homer's epics are stories and accept that he uses myths and fantastical creatures as major components in his storytelling, then we can consider that Troy is also a completely fictional place.
It is worth noting that the whole idea of Homer as the great poet who wrote the Iliad and Odyssey is questionable. Although tradition states that Homer was a blind poet who authored the epics, the Greeks don't know when or where he was born, and there is no consistent autobiographical information in the epics. There are many alternate theories about Homer, including the idea that Homer never even existed. Some scholars believe that the two epics are the collective works of anonymous bards, and Homer's name was applied much later. In this theory, it is believed that the two poems were constantly revised and added to up until the 6th century BCE in Athens when they were written down.
Even if only one bard originally recited the poems, we still face the issue of the stories being revised and altered until they were finally written down. Furthermore, we can't make assumptions that Homer even existed, let alone one of the locations in his poem.
Even if the Trojan War didn't occur, or if any of the details or characters are made up, the City of Troy could still have existed. Besides the gods and goddesses within the story, Homer does not mention any fantastical features in the city. There is also significantly less mythology and fantasy in the Iliad compared to in the Odyssey.
[P1] Homer lived hundreds of years after the Trojan War is said to have occurred.
[P2] Homer often writes about mythical places and creatures.
[P3] Homer's entire existence is questionable and lacks evidence.
[P4] Troy is most likely a fictional place.