Was The Trojan War Just? The Trojan War was a Greek mythological war waged on account of the beautiful Helen, wife of the Spartan king Menelaus, being stolen from Greece by Paris, Prince of Troy. It is one of the most important, if not the most important, event in Greek mythology. The dispute originated from a quarrel between three goddesses, Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite. They were fighting to see who was the fairest among them. They were sent by Zeus to Paris in order for him to judge them. Paris chose Aphrodite after she offered to make Helen, the most beautiful of all women, fall in love with him.
She then proceeded to take Helen from Menelaus, with Paris’s help and give her to him, thus causing the Trojan War. Throughout this struggle up through The Odyssey and The Iliad, the two armies of Greeks and Trojans battle along with the gods for Helen. And the question that must be asked in light of this great mythological struggle is, was the war just? Was the bloodshed of thousands of men, women, and children, the struggle of many cities, and widows and fatherless children worth it? Was this war lawful, reasonable, or right?
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That is the question that will be addressed in the upcoming paragraphs. Before the actual justness of the Trojan War is examined, one must look at the exact meaning of the word just. The definition of the word is “guided by reason, fairness, and justice. Whatever is right and lawful. ”. And the Bible tell us that “the righteous are just” (Proverbs 12:5). So was the Trojan War righteous, was it fair and reasonable? Was there a good and justified reason for the death of so many people? Was the Trojan War reasonable?
Well first one must look at the cause of the war. Ultimately, this war was waged over the possession of one woman, Helen of Sparta. As was the case with many of the ancient Greek struggles, it was caused by the gods and their pride. Many of the wars waged in the real world were caused by struggles such as abuse of a people, tyranny, important issues such as slavery, etc. Not because a beautiful woman was taken from the King. However, in the ancient mythological world, if the gods wished for a war to be waged in the name of beauty and pride, it would be done.
After Helen was taken, all of the Greek princes were bound by oath to help Menelaus rescue her again. In those times, if one was bound by an oath to help the king, there was no limit to the measures that would be taken. Thus, an epic war begun. However, this does not make the start of the Trojan War reasonable. A reasonable war is waged because of life-changing issues, not pride and vanity. And a just war must be waged only as a last resort. If this was the case with the Greeks and Trojans then there never would have been a war in the first place.
Greed was in the minds and hearts of the Trojans and Achaeans, not justness. So many times in this book, and in Ancient Greek culture, pride and vanity is put before sensibility and morality. Women were considered prizes, trophies, things a man could win, such as a chariot or a horse. When Chryseis, the woman that Agememnon received for a certain sacking of a Trojan ally town, was taken from him, his immediate reaction was to take Achilles woman, Brisies. There was no consideration of Achilles’ emotions or love for Brisies (if there was any), only lust and greed were in Agememnon’s mind.
For it was greed that encouraged Paris to accept Aphrodite’s offer, and greed that caused the Achaeans to respond so violently. If peace and the wellbeing of the countries were first in the mind of the two armies, then this great war would never have begun. Was The Trojan War fair? When Helen was taken from Menelaus, the Achaeans immediately reacted with violence. Instead of first leaning towards calm and safe discussion, they reacted harshly. Now the Achaeans had a right to be upset with the circumstances, but it would seem that war wouldn’t be the fairest and most reasonable choice.
After all, the reason for war should not be solely for recapturing things or punishing people that have done wrong. For in the end, many innocent lives are taken, therefore a just war is waged only for the right intentions. After all, the Bible does tell us that “there is a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace” (Ecclesiastes 3:8). War is not wrong, but it is wrong if waged for the wrong reasons. Was The Trojan War righteous? The Bible says, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).
After all, what is righteousness? It is acting in accord with moral or divine law. This is not the kind of divinity defined by the “divine” gods of ancient Greece, but the divinity that comes from the true Lord. According to His laws, waging a war on account of beautiful woman, is not righteous, or in alignment with moral law. And to consider material gain over the preservation of innocent life is not war for the right intention (righteousness). In a just war, the ultimate goal should be to re-establish peace. Consequently, the war must have begun in turmoil, without peace.
In this case, however, the war caused strife and turmoil. Before the war, the two countries got along reasonably. During and after the war, there was hatred. Now that is not the result of a just war, or even the goal. In the first place, anyway, there was no consideration of ultimate peace. No, only vanity and material gain were in the mind of the king and the people of Greece. If the authorities of Greece and Troy were putting peace and prosperity first before their own selfishness, many innocent lives would have been spared.
When the war first began, and Paris, prince of Troy was given the option of taking Helen from the king of Menelaus, he never took his country into consideration, thinking that possibly a war could result from his decision. No, instead he took what he saw lustfully in his eyes, and started a war to last many years. It was one of the greatest mythological wars of all time. A just war is also always waged by a legitimate authority. Now the Trojan War was waged by the authority of the king, but was also swayed and constantly changed by the will and spontaneity of the gods.
In so many circumstances, the gods would take a side and therefore cause the other side to suffer. Truthfully, the war would have gone very differently if the gods hadn’t decided to participate. For instance, Hera and Athena wish for the Achaeans to win the war, and passionately hated the Trojans. Zeus, however, chose to favor the Trojans, and when he began to give them the upper hand, Hera had a talk with Sleep and seduced Zeus, causing him to fall asleep, so that Poseidon, Hera, and Athena could turn the war around.
In yet another case, occurring near the beginning of the book, Apollo brings great turmoil to the Greek camp after Chryseis, the daughter of Chryses, who is priest of Apollo, is taken from her town by the Achaeans. After asking the Achaeans to give her back (they refused), he prays to Apollo to bring suffering on the Achaean army. Apollo’s actions lead to the main conflict between Achilles and Agamemnon which causes so much trouble within the Achaean army, and is greatly responsible for their great loss towards the beginning of the book, because Achilles refused to fight.
With so much confusion occurring on both Mount Olympia and on Earth, a war such as this can hardly be righteous and just. In a just war, the violent measures taken must be proportional to the injury suffered. Countries must not use force that is not necessary in order to attain a limited objective. In the Trojan War, however, the amount of force was not even taken into consideration. They would do absolutely anything, no matter what impact it had, in order to attain their own goals or needs. In Book 10 of The Iliad, Diomedes and Odysseus volunteer to spy and infiltrate the Trojan camp.
Meanwhile, the Trojans devise their own plans. Hector wants to know if the Achaeans plan to escape. He selects a spy, Dolon, to serve as a scout. Dolon is quick-footed, and Hector promises to give him Achilles’ horse and chariot once the Achaeans are defeated. As soon as Dolon sets out he comes into contact with Diomedes and Odysseus. The two men then interrogate Dolon and threaten his life. In order to save himself, he tells them the positions of the Trojans and their allies. He also reveals to them that the Thracians are especially vulnerable to attack.
Rather than sparing him, however, as they promised, Diomedes kills Dolon and strips him of his armor. Instead of only using force when absolutely necessary, the Achaeans killed freely and spared as few innocent lives as possible. This is not the definition of a just war. In a true and just war, innocent lives are fought to be spared. The Trojans and Achaeans, however, had no thoughts of sparing the weak and innocent. In that war, the goal was to kill as many people, fighters or innocent bystanders, as possible. That was how they would win the war. In that culture, however, the gods encouraged that kind of behavior.
In fact, they even participated in the killing and wounding of innocent people. Love was never first in their minds. After all, they would even bicker among themselves. Our God, however, is strong and loves all. In a righteous war, if possible, every innocent person would be spared. Our God is not one of hate or greed as the ancient Greek gods were, but ours is one of love. And in a just and righteous war, all possibilities would be weighed before war broke out. And while there may be rights and wrongs on both sides, to launch into a war over a small dispute such as the one that caused the Trojan War is selfish and unjust.
America’s own Supreme Court justice Robert Jackson, who served as Chief Prosecutor at Nuremburg, following World War II said: “To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole. ”. In other words, to wage a violent war is already evil in the first place, but to wage a violent war without the right intentions is far more evil, and the farthest thing from righteous, fair, reasonable, or just.
Even though the gods in Ancient Greece did not ask the mortals of anything except for adoration and worship, our God asks us to do what is right, and to only wage war for right reasons. In conclusion, the definition of just is: guided by reason, fairness, and justice. Whatever is right and lawful. ”. A just war must be waged with the right intentions, for the right reasons, with the sparing of as many innocent lives as possible, where the ultimate goal is to obtain peace, and it is waged only as a last resort. Throughout this essay each has been addressed and put into context with The Trojan War.
It is obvious (hopefully) that the Trojan War was not just, and was waged because of greed, vanity, pride, and selfishness. Instead of taking the common and innocent people into consideration, the Achaeans and Trojans killed many and brought pain and suffering to both countries. And the Ancient Greek gods encouraged this and even brought more suffering to whichever side they wanted to lose. As Christians, we are so blessed to have a loving God that cares for us and does not take sides, but rather wants us to have love for one another and bring each other joy and peace, instead of pain, suffering, sorrow, and war.
The Bible tells us to “Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. ” (Psalm 34:14). War is looked down upon by our God, He is a God of peace. By always looking to Him, we will be safe and peaceful. “Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth; He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; He burns the chariots with fire. Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! ” (Psalm 46:8-10)!