graphic of budda TROY
Activities for Troy Stories Today: Women and Goddesses



At least one of your Activities for this Area needs to be based on reading one of these contemporary Troy novels; each is an inexpensive paperback and can be bought (often used and very cheaply) through an online bookseller or at your local bookstore.

  • The Autobiography of Cassandra: Princess & Prophetess of Troy by Ursule Molinaro. (1979; McPherson & Company, first paperback edition, 1992. ISBN 0-929-701-240).
  • Daughter of Troy by Sarah Franklin ( Avon Books. Trade Paperback, 1998. ISBN 0-380-79353-9). Back in print in 2002. For all its apparent focus on women at Troy, "Sarah Franklin" is a pseudonym for a male author, Dave Duncan.
  • The Firebrand by Marion Zimmer Bradley (Pocket Books, 1991. ISBN 0-671-74406-2). Reprinted by Roc Trade; Reissue edition (May 6, 2003); ISBN: 0451459245; also, loads of used copies are for sale on the www.
  • Hades' Daughter by Sara Douglass. Book One of The Troy Game. ( A Tor Book, 2003). The first of a four part fantasy series based on the notion of "The Troy Game" being a witchcraft and labyrinth power trip that is played out by Brutus, descendent of Aeneas, among others.
  • The Gate to Women's Country by Sheri S. Tepper    (1988; Bantam Books, 1989. ISBN 0-553-28064-3). Spectra; Reissue edition (February 1, 1993). ISBN: 0553280643.
  • Goddess by Miranda Seymour (New York: Coward, McCann & Geohegan, Inc., 1979).  ISBN: 0698109724
  • Helen in Egypt by H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) (New Directions Publishing Corporation; Reprint edition, 1974.ISBN 0811205444). A modern poetic epic based on the variant myth that Helen never went to Troy.
  • To follow the Goddess by Linda Cargill (Cheops Books, 1991. ISBN 0-9627258-7-0).
  • The Song of Troy: A Story that Will Outlast History  by Colleen McCullough. (Orion Fiction, 1998. ISBN  0-7581-763-9). Not her best work, but a thorough job.

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 15: "The Firebrand and The Gate to Women's Country: Women Revise the Trojan Past."

2. Explore the links on the Troy Stories Today: Women and Goddesses 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 substantially 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 complete the activities.

graphic of one chili pepper1. The Gate to Women's Country proposes a rather startling "solution" to the problem of war. Describe this solution in some detail and explain whether or not you think it would be effective and whether or not you think it is ethically justifiable. Use examples from the text to support your ideas.
graphic of one chili pepper2. Daughter of Troy, which is narrated by a very strong woman, Briseis, was written by a man using a female pseudonym. Do you see any interesting evidence in the novel that would lead you to identify the author as a man? What, exactly, does this evidence consist of? Do you think a woman would have presented this material differently? How and why? Use specific examples from the novel to support your ideas.
graphic of one chili pepper3. Read Hades' Daughter by Sara Douglass and then check out several of these web pages about Troy Towns and labyrinths. Do you think Douglass has done a good job using the Troy Town tradition in her novel? Explain why or why not and use plenty of specific details from both the novel and from the Troy Town pages to support your position.
graphic of one chili pepper4. Read To Follow the Goddess, and compare the character of Helen presented in it to Helen in the Iliad. Do you think this modern version of Helen fits legitimately into the ancient traditions of Helen? Why or why not? Support your ideas with several specific examples from the modern story and from at least one of the ancient versions.
graphic of one chili pepper5. Read Lavinia by Ursula Le Guin. Focus on the last section of the story after the end of the war and Lavinia's marriage to Aeneas. Why do you think Le Guin added this section? What would a modern woman author find missing in the Aeneid? Why? Do you think she has added to your understanding of the Aeneid? Go into details using both the book and what you have learned about the tradition of Troy stories to answer this question.
graphic of two chili pepper6. The Firebrand includes a long section about Kassandra's time with the Amazons. Go to Goddesses and Amazons and do some research on Amazons. Compare what you find there to the way that Bradley describes the Amazons in The Firebrand. Do you feel Bradley has done thorough research on this topic? Are her Amazons "realistic?" Why or why not? Develop your ideas with specific examples from The Firebrand and from your research on Amazons.
graphic of two chili pepper7. Read The Daughter of Troy, To Follow the Goddess, or The Firebrand for this Activity.  All three include plenty of material about the ancient Goddess Religion. Go to Goddesses and Amazons and do some research on Goddess Religion, both the ancient real thing and the modern reinterpretations. Then examine Daughter of Troy, To Follow the Goddess, or The Firebrand to see how the author incorporates ideas about Goddess Religion into the story. Describe what you find and discuss it in detail, including plenty of specific examples from your selected novel and from your research on Goddess Religion.
graphic of two chili pepper8. The Daughter of Troy includes a great deal of information about life in the Bronze Age. Go to The Bronze Age and do some research on the period; don't overlook the visual images of Bronze Age artifacts that are so plentiful on the www. Then look at several places in The Daughter of Troy that indicate specific use of modern archaeological and historical understanding of life in The Bronze Age. Do you think that Franklin has done a realistic job of representing this period in the novel? Why or why not? Support your ideas with specific examples from both the novel and your research on The Bronze Age.
graphic of two chili pepper9. Compare the causes of war in the Iliad and The Gate to Women's Country. Which do you think is more realistic about what causes war and who/what is to blame? Support your ideas with specific examples from both texts. Be careful with this one--the answer is neither clear nor simple.
graphic of two chili pepper10. In The Trojan Women, by Euripides, a woman, Helen, is the cause of the Trojan War, and women and children are its most pathetic victims. Compare this view of women's roles in war with their roles in The Gate to Women's Country. Do you think that Tepper was trying to "solve" the problem of women and war that was presented in The Trojan Women? Use examples from both texts to support your ideas. (Double credit: worth up to 100 points if very well developed.)
graphic of two chili pepper11. The Gate to Women's Country includes pieces of a play, "Iphigenia at Ilium," which the women rehearse and perform every year. What is this play about? What is its purpose in the Women's Country? Do you think it presents a fair view of the roles of men as warriors and women as victims in war? Support your ideas with substantial examples from the text of both the whole book, The Gate to Women's Country, and the play within it.
graphic of two chili pepper12. Hades' Daughter by Sara Douglass tells the story of Brutus, great grandson of Aeneas, who traveled with a band of 10,000 Trojan exiles to the island of Britain. The "Troy Game," which is the center of this story, is a work of witchcraft that establishes a labyrinth at the heart of the city of New Troy in England. This surprisingly compelling fantasy novel deals with ancient gods and goddesses, mother rule and father right, the destruction of the old ways by evil witches (both male and female), and he transmission of Trojan culture and ancient evil from Troy to England, and thence into the modern world.
After reading the book, decide on some element that interests you and write about it. Possible topics to examine include: goddesses and witches; transmission of Troy; history into fantasy; Brutus, Cornelia and Genvissa--a deadly love/hate triangle. Be sure you make some interesting point, so your readers do not just ask, "so what?"
graphic of two chili pepper13. Read Homer's Daughter by Robert Graves (see Bibliography for this Area to get publication data), and then write an essay evaluating how "realistic" you think this novel is about how a woman could have written the Odyssey. Be sure to include plenty of well-selected supporting examples from both Homer's Daughter and the Odyssey. (Double credit: worth up to 100 points if very well developed.)
graphic of two chili pepper14. Read The Song of Troy by Colleen McCullough and compare her Helen to the Helen in Homer's Iliad and/or in The Trojan Women by Euripides. Do you see any interesting similarities? Strong differences? Why do you think McCullough presents Helen as a selfish, vain and basically foolish woman? Make some interesting point about all this and support it with specific incidents from Song of Troy and either the Iliad or The Trojan Women. If you choose to do all three, it is potentially worth double credit (up to 100 points), if very well developed. 
graphic of three chili pepper15. Compare "Iphigenia at Ilium," a play woven throughout The Gate to Women's Country, with any one or more of the Iphigenia plays covered during the course. Is this version radically different from the others? If so, why and how? Be very specific in your answer and use examples from both Iphigenia plays to support your ideas. This can be for double credit: worth up to 100 points.)
graphic of three chili pepper16. Read Iphigenia and Other Daughters (in The Greek Plays) by Ellen McLaughlin. Compare this feminist vision of women and war, which includes a heroic Clytemnestra and a dead Iphigenia, to Goethe's Iphigenia. Discuss the interesting and meaningful differences between the two visions of the roles of women in conflict as well as the final reconciliation of war and revenge. This can be for double credit: worth up to 100 points if very well developed.
graphic of three chili pepper17. Read both The Firebrand by Marion Zimmer Bradley and The Autobiography of Cassandra (a very short novel) by Ursule Molinaro. Compare/contrast how these two novels use the character of Cassandra to express feminist ideas about history and women's fall from power. Use plenty of examples from both texts to support your ideas. This is potentially worth double credit if very well developed (up to 100 points).
graphic of three chili pepper18. Read Spartan Women  by Sarah Pomeroy (Oxford, 2002) as well as Tepper's Gate to Women's Country. How much of Sparta can you see in Tepper's story? Consider the freedom, education and power of the women, the militarism of the men, and the communal nature of both Tepper's fictional Women's Country and of the male garrisons. This is worth double credit (up to 100 points) if very well developed.

Last Updated: 8/5/2017

© Thompson: 9/22/1998