Book Review: Troy: Myth, City, Icon


by Naoise Mac Sweeney

London / New York: Bloomsbury, 2018. . Pp. xvi, 186. Illus., maps, plans, diagr., chron., notes, biblio., index. $26.95 paper. ISBN:1472529375

The Long Legacy of a Legendary Place

Prof. Mac Sweeney (Leicester) has produced an account of the fabled Troy, a place that “has meant many things to many people” (p. 5). She not only tells us of the history of the site as can be derived from arcaehology and literature, but also how the location affected and was affected by political, cultural, and economic trends over the millennia. So in addition to the history and myth, she also gives us Troy’s life as reflected in the arts, literature, scholarship, and political thought, both ancient and modern.

Oddly, while the mound at Hissarlik is certainly the site of the famed city, and the location generally agrees with The Iliad and other now largely lost epics, none of the many layers of artifacts there can reasonably be identified with the events described by Homer and the other poets. While this arguably raises the question of whether the war unfolded as told, or whether it even took place, it does not affect the influence the tales of those events -- whether real or not -- have had over the ages, from Roman – and later even Briton, Goth, and other – claims to Trojan origins, down to the idea, first raised by Herodotus and recently revived by some pundits, of the “Clash of Civilizations” between “The East” and “The West”, a notion is not evident in Homer’s epic or what we can see in the fragmentary survivals from the many other now lost poems.

A volume in the Bloomsbury “Archaeological Histories” series, Troy: Myth, City, Icon is an excellent book about “the long shadow of a small town” (p. 152).



Note: Troy: Myth, City, Icon is also available in hardback and e-editions.


StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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