Ionic Troy at Hisarlik; Aeolic Troy in Mysia? PJC 02/08/23

Ionic Troy at Hisarlik; Aeolic Troy in Mysia? PJC 020823

1. A Troy in Mysia has a good Homeric heritage within the Trojan Cycle. 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 ‘by mistake’ before they fought the Trojan War (TW). They had first sailed for Troy without a competent pilot, and landed in Mysia near the mouth of the river Kaikos, believing they had arrived at Troy. They had fought against, taken, and destroyed Teuthrania before they realised their mistake. They were then driven back to their ships by an army led by a local hero named Telephus, and returned home. The Kypria tells us it was only after a second sailing from Aulis that that the TW was fought.

2. Ionic Troy not Homeric. It is a waste of time, as many have found, trying to find Homer’s setting for the TW around Hisarlik. There, the acropolis is too small, and the existence of a large lower town of Troy is much disputed. Most of the famous features of Homer’s Trojan plain are missing, and the river layouts are not as Homer describes. In 1982, even the ‘Trojan plain’ between Hisarlik and the river mouth went missing, when it was discovered that all this land was, some 3,000 years ago, part of a large river estuary. M Korfmann and J V Luce did their best to recover some Homeric respectability for the site, but the topography, and the texts of the Iliad in many places, were against them.

3. Aeolic Troy is Homeric. For a landscape which perfectly matches Homer’s text, look instead at the Kaikos (now Bakir Cayi) valley below Pergamon. Here is arguably western Anatolia’s finest acropolis. It still bears the name Homer gave, Pergamos, to the precinct of Apollo at the top of Ilios. As Ilios (Hittite Wilusa?), it was praised by Zeus as his ‘favourite city among men’. Here in Bergama we can still find both hot and cold springs. Here, some 10km SW of Pergamon, we also find the ruins of ancient Teuthrania, which is mentioned in the Kypria. A local 1941 map shows it as ‘Tatar tepe’. Here, in this river valley, almost all Homer’s famous landscape features are easily found, where and as he described them. Any Iliadic landscape features specifically appearing to place Troy at Hisarlik, such as the view from there of ‘Samos-well-wooded-of-Thrace’ (Leaf 1892), may thus be recognised as Athenian interpolations. And why did Walter Leaf call the Mysian War story ‘absurd’? He was objecting to the word ‘mistake’. ‘Troy’ at Hisarlik is today claimed to have been once a famous trading centre in the late Mycenaean era. If so, how could any experienced Greek ship-master get lost sailing to the mouth of the Straits of the Dardanelles, or fail to notice the usually steady current flowing through the Straits from the Black Sea?

The likelihood of there being both an Aeolic, then a later Ionic version of the TW story is not a new idea. 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 and Ilion at Hisarlik. Carpenter even found a c2,000 yr. old 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 has, until now, been proposed as to when and how it may have been ‘moved’ from Pergamon or Teuthrania in Mysia to Hisarlik.

Key questions: (i) Could Homer have written the original Aeolic version of the Iliad, as set in Mysia?

(ii) Was Homer’s version of the TW story, and most of Athens’ earlier history, carefully edited and rewritten in places later by the Pisistratids and later Athenians, to suit Troy at Athen’s new colony at Hisarlik in Sigeion, rather than in Mysia?

(iii) Was that why, when the unexpected fall of Croesus gave him the opportunity, Pisistratus immediately invaded and eventually captured Sigeum from the Mytilenians?

My studies, nearing completion, confirm beyond reasonable doubt, the answer to these questions is ‘Yes’. By so doing, Pisistratus won for Athens the lasting honour of becoming the custodians of the Homeric heritage for all Greek speaking peoples.

John Crowe 260823