By André Bastos Gurgel, OAB
I first became fascinated with the story of the Trojan War as a child. When I read the Iliad for the first time, I was intrigued by the fact that Homer never mentioned how Troy fell. I eventually realized there was a gap between the events of the Iliad and those of the Odyssey. It turns out that Homer did write about the fall of Troy, but only fragments of that text have survived.
Students who’ve finished the Iliad and want to read what happens next do, though, have access to a complete description of the final days of Troy in 600 verses, thanks to the work of Tryphiodorus, an often overlooked writer. But who was this Tryphiodorus?
Who Was Tryphiodorus?
We, in fact, know very little about the writer named Tryphiodorus. The only reference to his life appears in the Suda, a Byzantine encyclopedia, which proves he existed, though it’s not very clear about when he lived. Based on his writing style, most scholars agree he may have been born in the third century. In addition to The Fall of Troy, Tryphidorus also wrote Marathoniaca and The Story of Hippodamea.
A Sample From his Work
The Fall of Troy is the only work by Tryphiodorus which has completely survived. In it, he describes the events which took place just after the events of the Iliad. Tryphiodorus managed to imitate Homer’s poetic style rather well, including the use of hexameters and similes.
If you are an advanced Homeric Greek student and you enjoyed the Iliad and the Odyssey, you will read Tryphiodorus with relish. The translation is by A. W. Mair.
τέρμα πολυκμήτοιο μεταχρόνιον πολέμοιο
καὶ λόχον, Ἀργείης ἱππήλατον ἔργον Ἀθήνης,
αὐτίκα μοι σπεύδοντι πολὺν διὰ μῦθον ἀνεῖσα
ἔννεπε, Καλλιόπεια, καὶ ἀρχαίην ἔριν ἀνδρῶν
κεκριμένου πολέμοιο ταχείῃ λῦσον ἀοιδῇ.
The long delayed end of the laborious war
and the ambush, even the horse fashioned of
Argive Athena, straightway to me in my
haste do thou tell, O Calliopeia, remitting
copious speech; and the ancient strife of
men, in that war now decided, do thou
resolve with speedy song.
I highly recommend the works of Tryphiodorus. To many, his Fall of Troy will be a long-awaited revelation of the events that transpired between Homer’s two great works, the Iliad and the Odyssey!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
André Bastos Gurgel, OAB (Order of Attorneys of Brazil), Academic Advisor for the Carmenta Online Latin School, is a life-long student of both modern and ancient languages. Mr. Gurgel is fluent in English, Portuguese, Mandarin, Spanish, French, Italian, German, and Latin (the last of which he learned with Carmenta) and has a working knowledge of Danish, Hebrew, Ancient Greek, and Sanskrit. Mr. Gurgel is currently studying Old English through Carmenta as well.
Click here to read Mr. Gurgel’s full profile.