There was a place in ancient northwestern Anatolia (modern day Turkey) that was a perfect spot to build a city. It was on a small peninsula near the primary land trade route between Asia and Europe. That peninsula overlooked the body of water that connected the Aegean Sea with the Mediterranean Sea. In other words, the inhabitants of a city that was located on that spot would be able to control both land and sea trade between Asia and Europe. As you might guess, such a city was built; in fact, nine separate cities were built there, each one larger and more elaborate than the previous one had been. Over the centuries, as each city was destroyed by fire or earthquake, a new city was built over the ruins of the old one. By the time the ninth and last city was built, the mound upon which it was built rose one hundred thirty four feet above the land. That spot was, indeed, the perfect place to build a city! 

Those ancient cities in Anatolia, all built on the same spot, had various names, most of which we don’t know. Why would we know them? They have no meaning for us in the twenty-first century, except for one of them: the seventh one in fact. An ancient Greek poet named Homer composed an epic poem about the war that brought about the destruction of the seventh city. He wrote a mythical tale about gods and goddesses, legendary heroes, cunning, courage, triumph and betrayal. Homer named the city in his tale after the Greek term for the geological formation on which the city sat, the English translation of which is Troy. That’s right, there never was a city in Asia Minor named Troy and there never were people who were called Trojans. There was a city and a battle on which Homer’s story is based, however no record exists of it having anything to do with a love triangle, a woman named Helen or a man named Paris. One would suspect that any such conflict would occur over more mundane issues such as control of trade routes.

That doesn’t mean that none of it happened, that just means that we don’t know. As more archeological exploration takes place we will know more. I think that we can agree that gods and goddesses did not choose sides and jump into the fray, however we don’t really know much about what actually transpired all those centuries ago in that far away place. Did a confederation of Greek principalities conspire to use revenge against an eloping, love struck, royal couple as a ruse to attack the city in order to gain control of the lucrative trade routes? Archeologists tell us that evidence at the site suggests that the city was burned, suggesting that it was sacked by enemies and Greek armies are the likely, but not the only, suspects. The Persians and the Assyrians have both asserted military power in that region. The fact is that we just don’t know.

Not knowing facts does not keep us from making assumptions and guessing. We do a lot of that in life. We know a little bit about something and make up the rest to provide an entire story. In this case, we know that there was a battle that destroyed a city in ancient Anatolia. Homer composed a poem about it. Now, many of us have become experts on ancient Troy. Ancient Troy never existed. I suggest we think about that and apply it to our daily lives.

Peace and God Bless

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