We’ve all heard of Heinrich Schliemann, right? (…the appropriate response here is “You do, you clean it up!”) So let me rephrase: Anyone who has ever attended Gonzaga University or ever taken a class from an ancient historian or an over zealous Jesuit skipping along a well known path of tangents knows way more about Heinrich Schliemann than one would ever care to. For those of you who have not been blessed with such an experience, let me share with you, in the best Jesuit-y impression I have, who he is:
In the beginning (mainly 1822) was Heinrich Julius Schliemann, a bouncing baby boy from Mecklenburg-Schwerin in Germany. As the legend goes (yes, he has a legend) Schliemann never had a childhood education; he spent his nights surrounded by the ambiance of a crackling fire and the sounds of his father reciting the tales of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. Night after night, little Heiny would dream of Trojans and Achaeans, chivalry and valor, and of course, the magnificent Trojan horse. As the years passed, Schliemann’s interest with the epics turned into obsession. After receiving Georg Ludwig Jerrer’s Weltgeschichte, his fate was sealed; he would discover, what people thought at that time as fantasy, the city of Troy. In 1868, he set off in the footsteps of his hero, Odysseus, and began archaeological excavations in Turkey, with nothing more than Homer’s epics tucked gently under his arm to guide him. Then, in 1872, Schliemann uncovered evidence of Troy. There, he slaved in the hot hours of the sun and found the magnificent treasures of King Priam and the jewelry he called the crown of Helen.
(well, not really)
SO, scratch all that because Schliemann was said to be a pathological liar, whose wife left him because of his underhanded schemes in Germany, America and beyond (kind of like an evil Buzz Lightyear). He worked his excavation team like dogs and then after promising the Turkish government half of his findings, he smuggled artifacts out of the country right under everyone’s noses. It’s even been suggested that he bought trinkets from the streets of the inner city and planted them to keep his expiation going longer. In short, he was a poo-poo head. (Just ask my advisor; to this day, only 4 non-Turkish archaeological teams are allowed in the country at a time, with heavy Turkish involvement and a years worth of hoops and background checks before even beginning to survey). Thank you SO much, Heiny Schliemann!
He did do one good thing, however. He found archaeological evidence that Troy really did exist. (This is where it gets fun).
Exit Hesiod’s “Age of Bronze,” stage left. Enter the pathetic “Iron Age” of misery, injustice, aging, and death…
The Glory that was Greece: The Aristocratic Greek identity was based on their heritage with the Trojans. There are fragmentary remains that Hecataeus if Miletus attempted to link the age of humans with the timeless and mythical age. Greeks believed that bitty Trojan horses galloped through their veins. (Well, not really, but you get the idea)
Alexander the Barbarian: Later in history, those who were of Trojan descent were “in” and everyone else was “out.” Because Alex was from Macedonia, he was way out. Because of this, the now conquered Trojan descendants and historians wrote about Al as one who drank to much unmixed wine and wore ceremonial clothing for everyday wear and who focused more on material possessions rather than practical wisdom (gee I wonder whose thoughts influenced that?) Al was labeled as an uncouth non-Trojan; mainly, a barbarian. (I’ll bet they even petitioned to make him sit at the back of the chariot). In short, Al lived fast, died young and taught a lesson to future invaders. If you want to be part of the “in” crowd, you’ve got to be a Trojan.
The Grandeur that was Rome: Rome was flexing its muscles to central and southern Italy, and wanted Carthage by 275 BCE. This time, there was a collective “aha!” by Roman historians and chronologists. They noted that 814/13 was the founding date of Carthage and of Rome. It all made so much sense!!! Why else would there been annual killings of a warhorse on the Campus Marius than to express their anger over the ruse of the Trojan horse which had cost their ancestry so dearly? TADA! Rome was in!
St. Augustine is a Trojan: NO, but I made you look. This is more like a metaphor wrapped in an allegory, Adam. (Pardon the inside joke). But seriously, be forewarned, I am not a heretic. After Rome crashed and burned by the Visigoths, St Augustine spoke of a dualism: (RELI 205, you’ve done me well) The City of God and the Earthly City. St Augs said that The city of God could not exist in pure form with the Saeculum. This is artsy fartsy for “the sacred are in and the mundane are out.” (Wooah!! I wonder where I heard that before?) My point: Its not that Augs was neither a bad Trojan, nor a Trojan at all. He was simply carrying on the cliquish ideals of the Greeks. I mean what happened to “love they neighbor as thy self?” I know, I know, Augs talked about that too, but he set up a lot of yuckiness and further segregation between the “Trojans” and the “Children of Abraham;” that is, until we find out Abraham is a Trojan. Then it just gets weird! But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Bring on the Ostrogoths and Visigoths: While the Christians were dealing with the continuity of history, the Ostrogoths migrated to Italy. They knew, when in Rome… so they cracked out their own Chronology stating “the origin of the Gothic people belonged to Roman history.” (Everybody sing…and the Goth was a Roman, and the Roman was a Greek, and the Greek was from Troy, and Troy is in the dirt, and the green grass grows all around, all around…) The Visigoths also wanted to improve their status so Gregory of Tours wrote The Chronicle of Fredegar, which “revived the tradition that Aeneas lead one contingent of Trojans across the sea to Italy. It also had Priam’s group move into Macedonia, where some became ancestors to Philip and Alexander and others became the ancestors of the Franks.” Al wasn’t a barbarian after all!
Operation Barbarossa: During the Carolingian period, the majority of history was becoming Christianized with a definite beginning (creation) and end (parusia). St. Augustine’s ideas about the sacred and mundane were turning the Trojan identity on its head. Hagiographies were booming with abbots and bishops and popes, oh my! Monks sat in their little monasteries recording a biased history with Manuscript illumination, and as I’m sure the Iliad and Odyssey weren’t a part of the canon, the idea of Trojan genealogies were tied up at the trough. Luckily for me however, and those sad, caged horses, the Lombard League saved my theory (which will be made known soon, I promise. But it’s interesting, right? Even for all you philosophical geniuses over there? FYI, this is where you nod and keep reading.)
Rome, Grommit! The world is made of Trojans: After the fall of the Lombard kingdom in 774, the British pride was at an all time low. What would be better than cheese and crackers with a cup of tea? Why, recovering the stories of origins or collective genealogies, giving them a combined Roman, Greek and Trojan origin. “According to once account the Latin Laviana married the Trojan Aeneas.” One of their grandkids was Brutus (Britto) who, after killing his father, wandered in exile until he eventually founded Brittania.
Great Danes: Even the Normans wanted in on the Trojan ancestory. As a response against Richard the first, of whom they called dux pyratorum (AAAARRRG!) They wanted to establish themselves as a respectable group. Dudo (a Frank Historian) traced the Normans back to Dacians (Daci or Danes) and then to the Danaoi who were linked to King Antenor, a refugee form Troy.
By Grapthar’s Hammer, I will avenge Nimrod: To prove to all of the judgment against the Slavs during the Investiture Controversy, the historians of Novgorod compiled their own respectable chronology. They were smart little buggers and connected on both the Christian and mythological level. They linked to Adonis of Babylon (a war-god), otherwise known as Adon. In the Norse mythology, we’re talking about Odin. According to the Nordic Chronicles, Odin was the king of the Asgardians located between the Black and Caspian seas. Odin made vast conquests all over Europe, and into Roman wrath where he was met by the son of Fridulph (another character that can be traced to King Priam).
Dan, Dan, the Mayan man: Well into the twentieth century, people have been innacurately tracing their genialogies to Troy. This one, however, tops ‘em all! According to Mayan, their kingdom was founded by a great ruler from the tribe of Votan or Oden or Dan, depending on what tribe you ask. He was said to be a white man who came by sea from the east.
The tribe of Dan, eh? So Abraham was a Trojan. Wow. Inaccurate historiography can be silly.
*Modern day Trojans to be announced in Part II of “Trojans Among Us.”
Hey, if Homer can split up the story, then so can I.