Was The Trojan War Just?

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The Trojan War, a Greek mythological conflict, began when Paris, the Prince of Troy, kidnapped Helen from Greece. This event is widely regarded as the most important occurrence in Greek mythology. The disagreement emerged from a competition among three goddesses – Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite – who were competing for the honor of being the most beautiful. Zeus told them to ask Paris for his judgment. Ultimately, Paris selected Aphrodite’s offer to make Helen, known for her beauty, fall in love with him.

She then proceeded to take Helen from Menelaus, with Paris’s help and give her to him, thus causing the Trojan War. Throughout this struggle up through The Odyssey and The Iliad, the two armies of Greeks and Trojans battle along with the gods for Helen. And the question that must be asked in light of this great mythological struggle is, was the war just? Was the bloodshed of thousands of men, women, and children, the struggle of many cities, and widows and fatherless children worth it? Was this war lawful, reasonable, or right?

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The fairness and justice of the Trojan War will be examined in the following paragraphs. To assess its fairness, it is crucial to comprehend the exact definition of the term just. The definition suggests that it pertains to being guided by reason, fairness, and justice, and embodies what is right and lawful. Moreover, the Bible affirms that “the righteous are just” (Proverbs 12:5). Hence, it is imperative to investigate whether the Trojan War was righteous, fair, and reasonable. Did it have a valid and justified reason for the substantial loss of life? Was the Trojan War reasonable?

The cause of the war was the possession of Helen of Sparta, a beautiful woman. The war was fueled by the pride of the gods, which often led to conflicts in ancient Greek struggles. In the real world, wars were commonly triggered by issues like abuse, tyranny, and slavery rather than the abduction of a beautiful woman. However, in the realm of ancient mythology, if the gods desired a war based on beauty and pride, it would be initiated.

After Helen was abducted, the Greek princes all pledged to aid Menelaus in rescuing her once again. During that era, when someone swore to support the king, there were no bounds to the actions they would take. Consequently, a grand war began. However, commencing the Trojan War cannot be considered rational. A reasonable conflict arises from life-changing circumstances and not from arrogance and conceit. Additionally, a fair war should only be pursued as a final option. If both Greeks and Trojans had embraced this principle, a war would never have occurred initially.

Both the Trojans and Achaeans exhibited avarice rather than equity, as portrayed in this book and Ancient Greek culture. Rationality and morality were often overshadowed by pride and vanity. Women were objectified as commodities or rewards that men could possess, much like a chariot or a horse. For instance, when Agamemnon lost Chryseis, a woman he had obtained during the plundering of a Trojan ally town, his immediate reaction was to seize Achilles’ woman, Brisies. Agamemnon displayed no concern for Achilles’ emotions or potential affection for Brisies; instead, he was driven purely by lust and greed.

Paris’ acceptance of Aphrodite’s offer and the Achaeans’ violent response were both driven by greed. If the two armies prioritized peace and the wellbeing of their countries, this war would never have happened. The immediate violent reaction of the Achaeans when Helen was taken from Menelaus was unfair. Instead of seeking calm and safe discussion first, they reacted harshly. While the Achaeans had a valid reason to be upset, war doesn’t seem to be the fairest and most reasonable choice.

The intention of war should not be limited to reclaiming possessions or seeking vengeance against wrongdoers. It is crucial to wage a just war with noble motives, considering the immense loss of innocent lives involved. As stated in the Bible, there is a time for both love and hatred, as well as a time for war and peace (Ecclesiastes 3:8). While war itself is not inherently immoral, it becomes wrong if pursued for improper reasons. Did the Trojan War meet the criteria of righteousness? According to biblical teachings, righteousness uplifts a nation, whereas sin brings disgrace upon its people (Proverbs 14:34).

Righteousness is the act of adhering to moral or divine law, specifically the divinity associated with the true Lord rather than the ancient Greek gods. According to His laws, engaging in a war for a beautiful woman is not deemed righteous. Similarly, prioritizing material gain over innocent life does not exemplify a war fought with righteousness. In a just war, the primary objective should be to restore peace. Therefore, it can be deduced that a war commenced without peace and amidst chaos fails to fulfill the criteria of righteousness.

In this case, the war caused turmoil and strife. Prior to the war, the two countries enjoyed a relatively positive relationship. However, throughout and following the war, a strong sense of animosity prevailed. This was not the desired consequence of a fair war, nor was it their objective.

Initially, there was no thought given to long-term peace. Instead, both Greece’s king and its people were solely concerned with their own self-importance and materialistic gains. If the leaders of Greece and Troy had prioritized peace and prosperity over their personal selfish ambitions, numerous innocent lives could have been spared.

At the start of the war, Paris, the prince of Troy, had the option to take Helen from King Menelaus without considering the consequences it may bring to his country. Rather, he acted on his lustful desire, igniting a war that would endure for many years. This war became one of the most legendary in mythology. A legitimate authority is always responsible for waging a just war. In the case of the Trojan War, it was initiated by the king’s authority but also influenced and constantly altered by the unpredictable will of the gods.

Throughout the war, the gods played a significant role in determining the outcomes and causing suffering for one side. The Achaeans were strongly supported by Hera and Athena, who harbored a deep hatred towards the Trojans. In contrast, Zeus favored the Trojans and provided them with an advantageous position. To counter this favoritism, Hera sought help from Sleep and successfully seduced Zeus, leading him to fall asleep. Consequently, Poseidon, Hera, and Athena were able to change the course of the war.

The Greek camp experiences a significant disturbance when the Achaeans abduct Chryseis, who is the daughter of Chryses, a priest of Apollo. Despite Chryses’ plea for her release, the Achaeans refuse and he calls upon Apollo to afflict the Achaean army. As a result, Apollo’s actions become the central conflict between Achilles and Agamemnon, causing turmoil within the Achaean army. Ultimately, this leads to their defeat early in the book because Achilles refuses to engage in battle.

The conflict taking place on Mount Olympia and Earth is generating significant confusion, rendering it challenging to perceive as righteous and fair. In a just war, the application of violence ought to be proportionate to the harm endured. Nations should refrain from employing excessive force in pursuit of a limited objective. Nevertheless, during the Trojan War, there was disregard for the extent of force employed. The parties involved were prepared to take any measures necessary without considering the consequences in order to achieve their own objectives. In Book 10 of The Iliad, Diomedes and Odysseus voluntarily offer themselves as spies and infiltrators within the Trojan camp.

Meanwhile, the Trojans are strategizing. Hector assigns Dolon as a scout to investigate if the Achaeans plan to escape. Known for his speed, Dolon is promised Achilles’ horse and chariot by Hector in exchange for his service after defeating the Achaeans. Shortly after beginning his mission, Dolon encounters Diomedes and Odysseus. The two men interrogate him using threats of harm to extract information about the Trojans’ positions and allies. Additionally, Dolon discloses that the Thracians are especially vulnerable to attack.

Despite promising to spare Dolon, Diomedes ultimately kills him and takes his armor. Both the Trojans and Achaeans were not inclined to spare innocent lives; instead, they freely took lives. This contradicts the concept of a just war in which innocent lives should be preserved. Their objective was to maximize casualties in order to secure victory in the war, with even the gods of that society endorsing such conduct.

In fact, they even participated in the killing and wounding of innocent people. Love was never their primary concern, as they would even argue among themselves. However, our God is strong and loves all. In a righteous war, if feasible, every innocent person would be spared. Our God is not like the ancient Greek gods who harbored hate and greed, but ours is a God of love. In a fair and just war, all options would be evaluated before engaging in conflict. And while both sides may have rights and wrongs, launching a war over a minor dispute like the one that instigated the Trojan War is self-centered and unfair.

America’s Chief Prosecutor at Nuremburg after World War II, Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, stated that initiating a war of aggression is not just an international crime, but the ultimate international crime that encompasses all other war crimes. Essentially, engaging in a violent war is inherently immoral, but engaging in a violent war without proper intentions is even more immoral and completely lacking in righteousness, fairness, reasonableness, and justice.

In Ancient Greece, the gods did not require anything of mortals except for adoration and worship. However, our God demands that we do what is morally correct and only engage in warfare for justified reasons. In conclusion, being just means being guided by reason, fairness, and justice, doing what is right and lawful. A just war must be waged with good intentions, for valid reasons, minimizing harm to innocent lives, aiming to achieve peace, and being used as a last resort. The discussion of these aspects has been applied to The Trojan War throughout this essay.

It is evident (hopefully) that the Trojan War was unjust and fought due to greed, vanity, pride, and selfishness. Instead of considering the ordinary and innocent people, the Achaeans and Trojans caused numerous deaths and inflicted pain and suffering on both nations. Furthermore, the Ancient Greek gods not only encouraged this but also intensified the suffering on the side they desired to lose. As Christians, we are exceptionally fortunate to have a caring God who does not take sides but rather desires us to have love for one another, bringing joy, peace, and avoiding pain, suffering, sorrow, and warfare.

The Bible encourages us to abstain from evil, pursue goodness, and seek peace. Our God is a God of peace who detests war. By constantly turning to Him, we can find safety and serenity. In Psalm 34:14, it states, “Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” The Lord’s works demonstrate His ability to bring desolation to the earth and end wars. He destroys weapons of war like bows, spears, and chariots through fire. Psalm 46:8-10 declares, “Come, behold the works of the Lord…He makes wars cease…He breaks the bow…burns chariots with fire. Be still and know that I am God.” We should strive for stillness and recognize that God will be glorified among nations worldwide.

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Was The Trojan War Just?. (2018, Feb 10). Retrieved from


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