Review of the book “Troy”, by Stephen Fry
Ah, Troy! Where do I start to get my hands on such juicy material? I have so many options that I might decide to make a Frankensteinian conglomerate and let Troy burn!
I like mythology. I’ve already said it once. I adore her. Especially the Greek and the Nordic ones. They are amazing. Both. And every time I delve deeper into them, mainly in Greek, I am amazed at how little, how little, I really know about them. More and more names appear, more children or grandchildren or great-great-grandchildren of gods or heroes… Damn, what a brain the ancients must have had to remember such a concoction of names and relatives… I realized when reading the Mythosby this same author (and you will tell me what it would cost Anagrama to translate it as Mitos if it later translates its sequel into Spanish as Héroes and does not leave it as the original Heroes, or this one Troy instead of the original Troy…) and I will be aware again when I address the aforementioned Heroes, I already know I’m taking a while. The knowledge of this man, Stephen Fry, on all these topics is immeasurable.
But come on, let’s get to the point. Fry himself warns in his introductory note that it is not necessary to have read the two previous books, Mythos y Heroes, to read this. He also warns that it is not necessary to remember all the names, places or genealogical branches to understand this fascinating reading. Thank goodness… (although in reality, it’s not that big of a deal, you don’t even need to draw a sketch, little word).
First of all a warning from me. Years ago I tried to read the Iliad, Homer’s poem (for the uninitiated, I must say that Troy was also known as Ilium). I couldn’t handle such a catalog of boats and a list of characters and I abandoned reading it. It seemed like a real pain to me. (I did see Wolfgang Petersen’s 2004 movie, with Brad Pitt playing Achilles – I was shocked when he yelled “Hector! Hector! Hector!”) That’s not the case with this one. Troy. The pain in the ass, I say. Not at all. I have read all 326 pages in two days. Exciting, I insist and I fall damn short.
Good. The film leaves aside many curiosities that the well-documented actor who is the author did not want to overlook. For example: Did you know that before the destruction of Troy, with the horse and all that, Troy was already destroyed by Hercules? Yes Yes. Fry tells us in an entertaining way the origins of the city and how Hercules killed every god in the palace except for a beautiful princess and her very young brother, Podarcles, who would eventually become Priam, the king of Troy. And why would Hercules do something like that? Did he have another attack of madness as he had in the past, which is why the twelve famous works were imposed on him? Well it wasn’t for that. It was because King Laomedon refused to pay him for killing a sea monster. A monster that in turn was a gift as punishment for not having paid the gods Apollo and Poseidon after having built the walls and towers of Troy. Yes, in those times it was normal to hire gods for certain tasks… Laomedon, like Espinosa de los Monteros, refused to pay both Hercules and the gods and finally ended up paying but with his life…
Nor do they tell us in the movie the story of the detestable Paris and I believe that the oath of all the candidates for Helen’s hand does not appear either, nor that Cassandra, the prophetess who, unknown to everyone, was the daughter of Priam and Hecuba…
And what about the fleet? The largest fleet ever seen. That does appear, but it seems to be an immediate response to Helena’s kidnapping when in reality about eight years (eight years!!) passed from the time Helena was kidnapped until the ships set sail.
And Odysseus? I thought of him as a salty, majestic, ingenious, awake, cunning, clever guy. He was on a pedestal and it turns out that at some point he became more of a dog than the Baskervilles. Damn, damn, what a disappointment, Ulysses, man… You even had a series of cartoons and I had a little doll of yours (with a suit like that from space and such)…
AND? AND? AND?
Details, details galore. That’s where the devil is they say.
If you want to know the history of Troy, the siege, all the small and big stories (which are many and fun), the role of the gods, Odysseus’ stratagems, the prophecies, Achilles’ armor, the fate of Troy, in Ultimately, if you want to know the exciting narrative of a confrontation that lasted no more and no less than ten years, and you want it to be told in an entertaining, even sometimes humorous, well-documented and contrasted way, you cannot ignore reading this magnificent book that is Troy. Even if you don’t like mythology, damn it, it’s a story with a fascinating plot.
The author closes the book with an appendix in which he tries to clarify what is myth and what is reality, if anything of what is told here really happened, and a list of gods, monsters, Greeks, Trojans and peoples. allies.
I suppose Fry will not stop here and I wonder what will be next: the Aeneid, or what is the same, the founding of Rome by Aeneas after fleeing Troy, or the Odyssey, the return journey of Ulysses/Odysseus to Ithaca, which took another ten years to complete? I’m leaning towards the second.
In any case, whatever it is, it will be worth reading and it will be just as fucking cool as this one.