You may have heard of the city of Troy, the Trojan War, the wooden horse, and Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world. But there's much more to the ancient myth of Troy. Now on, at British Museum BP exhibition with a run-through of one of the greatest tales ever told.
Filippo Albacini (1777–1858), The Wounded Achilles. Marble, 1825. © The Devonshire Collections, Chatsworth. Reproduced by permission of Chatsworth Settlement Trustees.
This Etruscan tomb-painting shows the Judgement of Paris. At the left, Paris awaits the three goddesses. Aphrodite, last of the three, lifts her dress to show off a flash of leg. On the right, Helen is approached by three women bringing jewellery and perfume
Some think Paris abducted Helen, others say she fell in love and followed him willingly. The South Italian artist of this vessel suggests the blame lies with the gods. Aphrodite stands directly behind Helen, who is lifting her veil to Paris for the first time. Below, Eros playfully allows a dog to chase a goose, perhaps suggesting infatuated humans are just a plaything of the gods.
On this Athenian drinking cup Achilles sits withdrawn and angry inside his tent, heavily wrapped in his cloak, as two heralds lead away his prize, the enslaved woman Briseis.
Achilles and Hector face each other in combat. Achilles lunges forward while Hector falls back, his wounded chest exposed.
Trojan King Priam kisses the hand of Achilles, the man who killed his son. This exquisite Roman silver cup was found in a chieftain’s grave in Denmark.
Image: Roberto Fortuna and Kira Ursem © National Museet Denmark
Find out more about Troy, the myth of the Trojan War and its legacy in art and literature in the BP exhibition Troy: myth and reality from 21 November 2019 – 8 March 2020.