Comments on ‘Investigations into the Trojan War’ by A J Trevino

The following comments are posted by John Crowe on his web site on 21-02-23. They were made in response to articles recently posted on, and circulated by

They refer to two papers, one by V Sinocz, proposing Troy at Istria, Croatia; the other. ‘Investigations into the Trojan War’ by A J Trevino

PJC Comment to A J Trevino:

The author has presented a reasonable brief summary, for the non-specialist, of today’s conventional thinking about what is generally referred to as the Trojan War (TW). Like almost all Homeric students and professionals, he ignores the key to understanding the truth about the story and its composer. The current paradigm is seriously threatened.

The earliest stories about this war have been handed down to us today in a series of eight Epics, known as the Trojan Cycle. This comprises the Kypria, the Iliad, the Aethiopis, the Little Iliad, the Sack of Troy, the Returns, the Odyssey, and the Telegony. The earliest of these are the Iliad and Odyssey, credited to a single composer, known to the ancients as Homer. Although much disputed today, it was the unanimous opinion of antiquity, from some 2,500 years ago, that the TW was an historical event.

If the author is only interested in presenting today’s consensus views relating to the TW, he should read no further. For those with an open enquiring mind, a genuine love of the Homeric epics, and a desire to have a better appreciation of the Homer who wrote them, I will raise a few questions.

Homer’s ‘the stream of Oceanus.’

The recent paper on the location of Troy, circulated by Academia, entitled ‘Our Troy’ by Vedran Sinozic, proposes that Homer’s Troy may be found at ‘the town of Motovun in the centre of Istria.’ [In Croatia, due east of Venice on the other side of the Adriatic.] The following is an extract from one of his arguments:

Sinovic – ‘One of the most important factors for proving the Istrian Troy was the sunrise from the sea. Of course, the sunrise is visible from the Kvarner Gulf. This solves the doubts of many researchers of Troy, who place the city of Troy in Asia Minor and other places on the Adriatic coast.

Homer describes the sunrise from the sea, as well as the sunset at sea, which can be nicely seen from the Istrian peninsula of triangular shape, which greatly sketches the position of the country of Troad, which must therefore be surrounded by the sea on the western and eastern side.

‘ Now rose the morn in saffron vest attired,

From ocean, with new day for Gods and men,’ Iliad, Book XIX, 1-2

and ‘Now sunk the sun beneath the ocean wave,

And darkness overspread the fruitful earth…’ Iliad, Book VIII, 485- 486 …’

PJC comment – anyone drawing a conclusion from the Iliad should refer to alternative translations and note the differences. Here, compare the translations of both passages by Murray in Loeb Edn.:

Il. 19.1-3. ‘Now Dawn the saffron robed arose from the streams of Oceanus to bring light to immortals and mortal men, and Thetis came to the ships bearing gifts from the god.’]

And Il.8.485-486. ‘Then into Oceanus fell the bright light of the sun drawing black night over the face of the earth, the giver of grain.’

Two points become immediately clear. Firstly, Sinozic appears to have misunderstood Homer’s reference to ‘the streams of Oceanus’. Hence he overlooks the difference between Homer’s reference to the ancient god ‘Oceanus’ or ‘Ocean’, and today’s ocean(s). Secondly, he seems to have relied on a single translation, whereas a wider reading may have helped him avoid this error. To understand the essential difference, turn first to R Graves. In an early section on creation myths, he explains that ‘Some say all the gods and all living creatures originated in the stream of Oceanus which girdles the world, and that Tethys was the mother of all his children.’

J March, in her splendid Dictionary of Classical Mythology, gives more background, with references. ‘Oceanus’ or ‘Ocean’ was the eldest of the Titans, son of Uranus (Heaven) and Gaia (Earth), and god of the great river that was imagined by the early Greeks as completely surrounding the flat earth, marking its furthest bounds to north, east, south and west.’

For Homer, therefore, the sun will rise from Oceanus in the east, and fall into the same Oceanus in the west, whether viewed from Croatia or Timbuku. Sinovic is not alone in this misunderstanding. Other authors have used this false argument when denying Troy at Hisarlik, Bergama, and elsewhere.

This misunderstanding allows Sinociz to say, as a fact, in one of his major arguments: ‘Already the fact that the country of Troy was surrounded by sea from the west and east helped me locate this lost country.’ As in this instance, much of his other supporting evidence also fails under serious scrutiny.

2. ‘Troy elsewhere’ has a Homeric heritage

The fact remains, however, that the idea of ‘Troy elsewhere’ does have has a perfectly good Homeric heritage, but only if applied to Troy in Mysia. Here, at the foot of Pergamon, arguably western Anatolia’s finest acropolis, we can still find both hot and cold springs in Bergama. Here we also find the ruins of ancient Teuthrania some 10km SW of Pergamon. According to the Kypria, one of the eight epic poems (including the Iliad and Odyssey) which make up ‘the Trojan Cycle’, Teuthrania was captured and destroyed by the Achaeans during the Mysian War. This war, we are told, was fought by the Achaeans before they fought the Trojan War. Apparently, they first sailed for Troy without a competent pilot, and landed near the mouth of the river Kaikos, believing they had arrived at Troy. It was only after they had destroyed Teuthrania that they realised their mistake. They were then driven back to their ships by Telephus, a local hero, and returned home. It was only after a second sailing from Aulis that the Trojan War was fought.

3. Was the Mysian War story ‘absurd’?

Surprisingly, Homer appears to know nothing of the Mysian War. W Leaf, presumably referring to the words ‘by mistake’, called it ‘absurd’. Both Odysseus and Menelaus had recently been to Troy, seeking to negotiate Helen’s return and avoid a war. Also, if none of the Greek captains knew how sail to the southern end of the Straits, could Troy really have been famous as a Mycenaean centre of trade, as claimed today? Who wrote this absurdity, and what was its purpose?

Both Rhys Carpenter (1946) and RSP Beekes (2003) studied this tale. These leading scholars both concluded, from the many similarities between the two Trojan War stories, that there may have been two versions of them. The earlier one would have been an Aeolian version based on Troy at, or in, Teuthrania. This would have been followed later by an Ionic/Attic version, with Troy at Ilion/Hisarlik. Carpenter even found an ancient text (Ox Pap, xi.1359) giving the birth of Telephus as being at Troy. He commented ‘As Telephos cannot be uprooted from Teuthranian Pergamon, then Pergamon for the [original] author of this text must have been Troy.’ (ref. my Vol.1 Finding the Plain of Troy, p86-88)). Yet despite a site for an Aeolian Troy having been named, no mechanism was offered as to how it could have been ‘moved’ from Pergamon or Teuthrania in Mysia to Hisarlik.

Key questions:

1. Could Homer have written the Aeolic version?

2. Was Homer’s version carefully edited later by the Athenian Pisistratids to suit Hisarlik?

My studies, in course of preparation, confirm beyond reasonable doubt, the answer to both questions is ‘Yes’.

John Crowe