Totally Epic

Published with Permission
Written by Amy Barr

The first powered airplane only flew 12 seconds on its maiden voyage, and the first car could only move 2 miles an hour. The first Greek epic, however, was invented even before the finishing touches were put on the Greek alphabet in which it would eventually be recorded. Homer’s Iliad, and his smash sequel the Odyssey, have been moving the world ever since.

You probably have a copy of one of these epics on your bookshelf. You may even have tried to work them into your curriculum with varying levels of success or frustration. With a little background in place, most quickly learn that this three thousand-year-old literature still offers food for thought and potent words for modern ears.

Troy, known as Ilion/Ilium to the Greeks and Romans, is a real place you can visit in northwest Turkey. I worked with the excavation team at this well-fortified Bronze Age city and witnessed how most tourists climb the giant Trojan Horse replica for a fast photo before hastily leaving. The site of Troy is no Coliseum or Parthenon, because its claim to fame is its destruction. Archaeological evidence suggests that something calamitous happened there around 1180 B.C. when the city was nearly leveled. (more…)