Year 11 Ancient History, Historical Investigation- Troy.
Analyse the effectiveness of the tactics used by both sides in the Trojan War. ____________________________________________________________ ___ The Trojan war was a ten year siege on the city of the city of Troy at the hands of the Greek forces led by a psychopathic king, Agamemnon. This conflict, which took place about 1200 B. C has become one of the most well known Greek mythology events in history. In the 13th century B. C, Troy and Sparta had stopped their wars and become allies, this was until Paris the youngest prince of Troy seduced Helen, the Queen of Sparta and left with her back to Troy.
When Menelaos (The King of Sparta) found out what had happened, he vowed to conquer Troy and with the help of his brother Agamemnon he launched one of the largest military campaign’s in history. After summoning all available forces that would answer his call, Agamemnon launched over 1000 ships headed towards the city of Troy. The war consisted of many heroes such as: Achilles, leader of the Myrmidons, Ajax, the tall Salamian leader, Odysseus, the resourceful and cunning king of Ithaca and Hector and Paris the princes of Troy. Hector, was commander-in-chief of the Trojan forces .
Hector was the best warrior on the Trojan side. Achilles was the immortal warrior who was the best soldier in the Greek forces and possibly the world . The numbers of the Greek forces have been said to have been as high as over 130,000, but this was most likely exaggerated and the Trojan army supposedly matched these numbers. As the forces were relatively identical in size, who would win the war would come down to the weapons used, the soldiers fighting and the tactics issued by both armies’ commanders. The Greeks had many advantages when it came to storming a beachhead.
With experienced pilots and rowers, the ships could be landed in such a formation that allowed the infantry to jump off easily but still provide maximum protection for their archers while also creating raised platforms from which spears and arrows could be fired easily. The ships also gave the Greeks a psychological edge as any man would be terrified when an armada of ships is bearing down on your position . But the most important Greek resource was the quality of their infantry, the backbone of their land power. The Greeks were experienced at making fighting runs up onto the beach; the Trojans had little experience in such operations .
The Greeks knew how to jump down onto shore rapidly while holding up a shield against enemy arrows. Before the Achaeans ships arrived, the Trojans set up beach defences, implanting spikes into the ground preventing the ships coming up during high tide but this did not halter the Greeks as they landed, soldiers stormed the beach. The result would have been a melee, what Homer calls “a dispersed battle” in which “man took man” and “close combat” was decided by “hand and might . ”The beach landing was more of a free for all battle; it would have been a brawl, with no formations and tactics.
With ships constantly coming in and men disembarking, with Trojans running forward to stop them and Greeks pushing against the Trojan defences. The Iliad mentions fifty-men Trojan platoons and hundred-man Greek companies. Once the Greeks had taken the beach they set up defences in case the Trojans launched a counter-attack . Rather than mount a direct attack on the imposing fortress of Troy, the Greeks chose instead to destroy the surrounding towns and cities which all belonged in the wider region of Phrygia. Troy depended on these settlements for its supply of provisions, reinforcements and aid .
Once the Greeks had isolated Troy, the Greeks started their large attacks on Troy. Homer’s Iliad describes in detail the many battles that occurred in the Trojan War. The tactics of the war at some points, according to Homer, were more like extreme dodge ball then to the classical warfare of the phalanx and the Hoplite warrior. The two lines would approach each other and when they were within throwing distance volleys of all different projectile’s would be thrown. The leaders would then come forward on their chariots and challenge each other to single combat.
This was a common method of warfare. It allows for true heroes to be shown and depicts the power of the leaders. The soldiers would enter the battle in chariots, launching javelins into the enemy formations, then dismount for hand-to-hand combat with more javelin throwing, rock throwing, and hand to hand sword and shield fighting. In the Iliad Homer also mentions the use of the phalanx formation being used by the Greeks. The phalanx is a rectangular mass military formation, usually composed entirely of heavy infantry armed with spears, pikes, or similar weapons .
Scholars suggest that the Greeks would have used this tactic because the alignment of shields minimises the chances of projectiles hitting the men, and the men can move as one, strong unit. In book 4 of Homer’s Iliad, a major battle in the war is described in detail. After the armies have gathered together all there available forces, they began to march towards each other. The Achaean forces moved forward towards the Trojans covering the horizon with the sight of eminent war. As the Greeks moved forward they unknowingly ventured into the range of the Trojan archers, who were some of the finest in the known world.
As the Greeks were held back by the range of the Trojan archers, they were quickly losing men and morale so Agamemnon made the decision to withdraw from this battle. Another battle is told in the Iliad; the Greeks had constructed a defensive wall around their ships, and now instead of besieging Troy they were in fact, besieged themselves. The next day a battle was fought, and the Trojans, favoured by Jove, were successful, and succeeded in forcing a passage through the Greek defences, and were about to set fire to the ships .
As relations between Agamemnon and Achilles were poor at the time, Patroclus put on Achilles armour and led the Myrmidons and the Greeks into battle. This uplifted the Greeks but frightened the Trojans as they were both fooled into thinking Patroclus was Achilles. Patroclus and the Myrmidons then plunged into the heat of war when it was at its hottest. The Trojans, at the sight of the well-known armour, ran with terror . Then the rest of the Trojans fled in dismay. Hector was forced to turn away and retire from the battle, leaving his men entangled in the Greek’s defences to escape as they could.
Patroclus chased after them, killing many as none wanted to face him. Patroclus then threw a large stone at Hector, which missed but hit the driver of Hector’s chariot. Hector leaped from the chariot to rescue his friend, and Patroclus went to finish his kill. And so the two heroes met face to face. Apollo hit Patroclus from behind and loosens his grip on his spear as well as knocking off his helmet and breastplate. Another God, Euphorbus spears him, but he does not fall. Hector watches all of this and spears him again. He fell mortally wounded .
Throughout the ten years of war that took place before the walls of Troy, many battles were fought and all were recounted in the Iliad by Homer. This allows us to study the tactics used by both armies and analyse the effectiveness of them. In his book, ‘The Trojan War, A New History’, Barry Strauss closely analyses the tactics and strategies that were used in the war. The Greeks are forced to engage in what Strauss calls a “dirty war. ” They attack the outlying areas of Troy, destroying towns in their way. They hope to end Troy’s valuable supplies and cut off its allies.
The Greeks resorted to prolonged irregular warfare, or what is otherwise known as guerrilla warfare, in order to wear down their enemy . As described in the Iliad the tactics used, varied greatly. As such the outcome of these tactics, also varied. When the Greek soldiers where commanded to pillage and destroy the surrounding towns, this cut short the supplies and reinforcements that were being sent to Troy. In The Late Bronze Age, there were three known ways to conquer a fortified city; assault, siege or ruse . Assault meant either scaling the city walls, tunnelling under the walls or using a battering ram to destroy the gate.
Siege involved circling the city and starving the defenders into submission. Ruse referred to using any trick to gain control of the city. Each of these tactics was dangerous and difficult. To penetrate the imposing walls of Troy meant the Greeks had to reach them first, which was a massive task. When attacking the Trojan army in front of their walls, the dodge-ball like warfare proved to be more beneficial for the Trojans then it did the Greeks. As the Greeks moved forward all the Trojans had to do was to send volley after volley of arrows to weaken the strength of the Achaean forces.
This was extremely effective as it almost completely stopped the Greeks from coming close to the walls. And if they the Greek soldiers did make it through, they would be stopped by the wall of shields held by the Trojan infantry. But as we know Homer mentions the Phalanx formation as being used in the war. If the Greeks were to implement this battle formation it would of considerably lessened the effectiveness of the Trojan archers and allowed the Greek army to move forward as large combined units, also reducing casualties.
Not only would the use of the Phalanx help the Greeks eliminate the Trojans main defence but also when it turned to ‘close quarters combat’, the Greeks would be a stronger unit and would be able to breach the enemy line which could ensure victory. The Trojans and the Greeks had two very different fighting styles. The Trojans were great at chariot warfare and archery, which would serve them well on the plain of Troy. The Greeks were experts in fighting at close range, and that is where they wanted the war fought. And what the Greek soldiers lacked in chariots and missiles, they made up for in unit solidity and speed.
They excelled in fighting in thick, organised formations . And yet throughout all the years of war, the Greeks did not manage to storm the city. Troy stood firm. But of course the most effective and cunning tactic came from the Greek camp. The story goes that the Greeks packed up their men, horses, weapons, and booty, set fire to their huts, and departed at night to a nearby island . All that was left was the Trojan horse and a spy. Once the Trojans had taken the horse behind their walls and into the city, the Greeks then crept out and opened the gate for the Greek fleet that had sailed back towards Troy under the cover of darkness.
They then proceeded to raid and destroy the city, thus winning the war. BIBLIOGRAPHY Websites http://classics. mit. edu/Homer/iliad. html http://www. bookrags. com/notes/il/ http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Trojan_Battle_Order http://www. igreekmythology. com/trojan-war. html http://www. timelessmyths. com/classical/trojanwar. html http://www. historyguide. org/ancient/troy. html http://forums. leasticoulddo. com/index. php? showtopic=10854 Books Wood, Michael, ‘In Search of the Trojan War’, University of California Press, California, May 13th 1998. Barry Strauss, ‘The Trojan War: A New History’, Simon & Schuster, New York, September 12, 2006.