graphic of technology TROY
Activities for Troy Stories Today: Literary and Popular Culture


NOTE the chili peppers!!! One means a pretty easy Activity, two means a harder one, and three means a challenging Activity. It is up to you.

1. Read The Trojan War, Chapter 16: "The Tradition Continues: Troy in the Twentieth Century and Beyond."

2. Explore the links on the Troy Stories Today: Literary and Popular Culture page.

3. Read through all of the Activities on this list before making your selection. Notice that some of the Activities are quite easy and may only require reading one text, while others are far more difficult, and may require reading more than one text or doing online research plus reading texts.

Select Activities that interest you and are appropriate to the time you have to spend on them. You will not get a higher grade because you select more difficult Activities. Some Activities that are especially complex will offer double credit; if so, that will be stated in the Activity question. If you select the double credit option, you must write "double credit" on your Activity AND you must develop your Activity in more depth, in order to qualify for the double credit.

Select one or two of these Activities. Follow the directions in your Blackboard course site to submit each Activity to the Troy Today forum.

graphic of one chili pepper1. Go to the Internet Movie Data Base and find a movie about Troy that you can rent and watch. Write a review of the film, explaining how it uses Troy material in a modern (or ancient) context. Be sure to add the URL of the IMDb movie review to your review.  
graphic of one chili pepper2. Read Auden's poem, "The Shield of Achilles" and compare it to the description of Achilles' shield in the Iliad, book 18, using plenty of specific details from both versions. Explain why you think Auden chose this image from Homer, and what he does to adapt it to the 20th century. How do Homer's and Auden's visions of the world and of war differ? 
graphic of one chili pepper3. Go to an Atlas of the United States and identify at least twenty cities named after events or characters of the Trojan War. List the cities, explaining where they are and when they were founded. Now, think carefully about how odd it is to have Trojan names in North America. Write a thoughtful, detailed explanation of why you think these various cities were given Trojan names. Be careful; not all Greek mythology refers to the Trojan war or the characters involved in it.
graphic of one chili pepper4. Herbert's House Atreides, a recent prequel to Dune, involves both the house of the Atreides (remember the house of Atreus, whose sons were Agamemnon and Menelaus) AND a sequence involving the play of Iphigenia. Read the book, give a quick overview, and then explain how the Troy material has been used for this postmodern sci-fi novel.
graphic of one chili pepper5. Locate and watch a Xena episode that deals with Troy material, such as the one involving Helen of Troy, or the one involving Ulysses. Write a detailed review of the episode, explaining what it is about and then discussing how the ancient Troy material has been updated for television.
graphic of one chili pepper6. Do a Troy search on the www and collect ten interesting web sites about Troy in the modern world. This could include the use of Troy in advertising, in the names of places, in movies, comics, whatever. The point is to collect material that demonstrates the modern relevance of the tradition of Troy stories. Note that not all uses of Greek myth are related to Troy, so restrict your list to material that deals specifically with the characters and issues related to the Trojan War. List your findings, including detailed annotations explaining each one, and the URLs (web addresses), so other people can look at them. Only include sites that I do not have listed already on the TROY web site. If you find a very good one, I'll add it to the TROY web site and give you five points extra credit.
graphic of two chili pepper7. Read The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. It tells the story of Achilles from Patroclus' point of view. Now compare this Achilles with the Achilles of the Iliad. Evaluate the thoroughness and accuracy of Miller's retelling of the story. Do you feel she has done a good job or not? Why? Give specific examples to support your position. This may be worth double credit if very thoroughly developed using plenty of specific examples from both the Iliad and The Song of Achilles.
graphic of two chili pepper8. Read Dan Simmons sci-fi novel, Olympos (Harper Collins 2005) and examine one or more of his Homeric characters. I suggest Achilles, Odysseus or Helen. Then, discuss in some detail how Simmons has adapted that Homeric character to his 21st century novel, how well you think the adaptation works, and why.
graphic of two chili pepper9. Read Dan Simmons excellent sci-fi novel, Ilium (Random House, 2003). Pick some element in it that reminds you strongly of Homer and discuss both how Simmons uses Homer and the many intriguing changes he makes in order to take the Homeric themes into the future. You will need a thesis of your own to focus your thinking, because this is much too complex a story to deal with as a whole in a short essay.
graphic of two chili pepper10. Read Orestes, a modern adaptation by Charles Mee Jr., and compare it to the Oresteia of Aeschylus. Explain why you think Mee has chosen to retell this ancient Troy story, and what important changes he has made to adapt it to our times. If you do a very thorough job with this, you may submit it for double credit.
graphic of two chili pepper11. Acquire a copy of All Day Permanent Red: An Account of the First Battle Scenes of Homer's Iliad by Christopher Logue. You can follow this link to Amazon's page about it, or find the book elsewhere. Then, after reading through this rather amazing re-interpretation of a Homeric battle in very modern terms, write a careful comparison of it to the scenes in the Iliad that it is re-envisioning. Finally, choose which version you prefer, Homer's or Logue's and explain why in some detail. 
graphic of three chili pepper12. Make up an interesting question of your own dealing with contemporary Troy material. You might want to look at one of the major works of Troy literature in the twentieth century, or you might want to look at lighter-hearted material such as comics or games. Examine the material carefully, consider its use of ancient Homeric stories, and find some interesting things to say about it, using, of course, plenty of specific examples from whatever you selected as well as from Homer to support your ideas. Send this question to me for approval before you start working on it. If I don't think it will work, I'll let you know in advance. Unless I approve the question, I will not read the subsequent Activity and you may not redo it. This can be worth single or double credit, depending on what you choose to do and how well you do it.
graphic of three chili pepper13. If you are feeling creative, look at a few YouTube videos of The Trojan War and then make your own and post it to YouTube (I have no idea how to do this--you need to figure it out). Send this question to me for approval before you start working on it. If I don't think it will work, I'll let you know in advance. Unless I approve the question, I will not read the subsequent Activity and you may not redo it.Once your video is up, post a brief description of your Troy video and the URL in a new message box in the Troy Today forum, so that we can go and look at it. This Activity can be worth up to double credit depending on its substance and quality.
graphic of three chili pepper14. If you are feeling inspired and ambitious, take the very long view, from the Bronze Age to the end of the Twentieth Century, and think about the tradition of Troy stories. Do you have any ideas about why these stories have endured for more than three thousand years? Can you see any interesting continuities from one period to another? Can you see any signs of progress? Any signs of change? Any signs of anything? If so, explain your ideas and support them, drawing from several of the areas you have studied during the course. Single or double credit depending on how fully you develop your ideas and how well you support them.

Last Updated: 8/6/2017

(c) Thompson: 9/22/1998