And you'll see me return
Being what I am
There is no other Troy
For me to burn
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Hisarlik across the plain of Ilium to the Aegean Sea
(thanks, Adam Carr)
Located south-east of the Dardanelles, beside Mount Ida in what was then known as Anatolia, the legendary city of Troy is best known as the setting of the Trojan War. The Trojan War, described by the ancient Greek writer Homer in his epic poems Iliad
, allegedly took place in the 13th or 12th Centuries BC. But the story seems more befitting of mythology than history. History is somewhat blurred in Homer's versions, which star site-meddling gods as the real cause of the strife. According to legend, the Trojan War was waged by Achaeans against the city after Paris of Troy seduced Helen of Sparta away from her husband, the king. Helen, bestowed with the beauty of Aphrodite, is said to have had “the face that launched a thousand ships,” bringing war upon her adopted nation. The city of Troy eventually fell, thanks to the heroic efforts of warriors Achilles and Ajax, and the innovative use of a hollow wooden horse, the infamous Trojan Horse.
In 1870, German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann excavated the Hissarlik site in what is modern day Turkey, claiming it to be the legendary city of Troy. This claim remains valid to this day, with a nearby village taking the name Troia and enjoying a steady stream of tourists. Whether the Trojan War ever actually occurred is debatable, as there is a lack of archaeological evidence supporting Homer's stories. Regardless of historical fact, the legend of the Trojan War remains inspiration for modern works of art across media with the Trojan Horse having become synonymous with gullibility.
Silver tetradrachm from Troy, c 188-160 BC, Hellenistic
William Butler Yeats penned his poem No Second Troy
in 1916. It was this poem, particularly the lines “Why, what could she have done being what she is? / Was there another Troy for her to burn?” that inspired Irish singer-songwriter Sinead O'Connor to write her classic tune.
“Troy” was the first single released from O'Connor's debut album The Lion and the Cobra
in 1987. It wasn't until 2002 that the song garnered the attention it deserved when a dance remix climbed to the top of international charts. O'Connor performed “Troy” live only once, a year after its release, refusing to perform the song again until 2008 at the Night of the Proms in Belgium. The music video made a far greater impact, featuring a bald O'Connor covered in gold and silver body paint, singing along to a backdrop rife with images of fire. This was the world's introduction to the angry, bald Irish woman.
“Troy” is the longest song on the album, running a full six and half minutes. The song begins with O'Connor's signature ethereal vocals accompanied by eerie strings. The music gradually builds in intensity, eventually bursting into an orchestral rock song as O'Connor releases her pent-up anger in a vocal display that assured the Irish singer's place in the annals of alternative rock history.
The Mykonos vase, with one of the earliest known renditions of the Trojan Horse
If the magnificent city of Troy - as Homer describes - ever existed, it is nothing more than rubble and legend now, a location drawing tourists to a region marked by luxury resorts and swaths of white beaches. It's hard to imagine vast fleets of warriors cresting those azure waves, intent on destroying a city all because of star-crossed lovers and meddlesome gods. But wars throughout history have sparked and burned for even lesser reasons, and the romantic notion of men fighting over the love of a beautiful woman is one that will endure, despite the anger of one small, bald, gold, notorious Irish singer.
~ Suzanne van RooyenSuzanne is a tattooed storyteller from South Africa. She currently lives in Finland and finds the cold, dark forests nothing if not inspiring. Although she has a Master’s degree in music, Suzanne prefers conjuring strange worlds and creating quirky characters. Her published novels include Dragon's Teeth, Obscura Burning, and The Other Me. When not writing, she teaches dance and music to middle schoolers and eats far too much peanut-butter.
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