I had to see this movie.
As a decades long student of classical history, as well as contemporary Middle Eastern Affairs, the chance to see the tragic clash between Achilles and Hector on the big screen was too much to resist.
With all the fuss over Brad Pitt as Achilles in Troy, I didn't realize that one of my favorite actors, Peter O'Toole, starred in the movie as Priam, the Trojan king.
I had recently been able to locate a set of video tapes of a made-for-television movie starring a much younger O'Toole as the Roman general who besieged the Jews in their last stronghold at Masada in 73 CE, during the first of two major revolts the Jews launched for their independence from the Empire. It was another tragic war, but one fought for far more important reasons than raging sexual hormones.
The contemporary Roman-sponsored historians such as Tacitus, Josephus, Dio Cassius and others lived right around the time of those latter revolts. A reading of their extensive works shows that the amazing story of the quest of the Jews for their freedom against the conqueror of much of the known world played second to none.
The fortress of Masada overlooks the Dead Sea to this very day and appears just as those ancient historians described it. The Arch of Titus stands tall in Rome as well, depicting the Roman victory over the Jews and the conquest of Jerusalem. Judea Capta coins can be found in museums all over the world, minted by Rome to commemorate its subjugation of the Jewish nation. So, if anything, there's far more historical corroboration for this story than that told by the Greeks' Homer. All that awaits is for some producer doing the story justice and putting it on the big screen.
But briefly, for now at least, back to the Greeks.
Virgil, the most famous poet in Ancient Rome, wrote one of the greatest epics of all time, the Aeneid. In Book II, the priest Laocoon warns the Trojans not to accept the giant wooden horse placed outside the impenetrable walls and gates of Troy. His legendary speech has been paraphrased in the now common saying, "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts."
We all know how ignoring Laocoon's advice turned out for Troy. Now let's turn the clock ahead some three thousand years for a look at another Trojan Horse.
On June 24, 2001, the much-showcased model "moderate" of the Palestinian Arab team, the late Faysal Al-Husseini, gave an interview in the Egyptian newspaper Al Arabi. He was commenting about the so-called Oslo Agreements in which Israel was largely expected to yield concrete tangibles, essential to its security, in return for vague Arab promises. As it turned out, the more Israel gave and ceded for the sake of peace, the more it bled. Arabs predictably interpreted the moves of the Jews as a sign of weakness. More Jews were deliberately disemboweled and butchered by Arab terrorism -- blown up at Passover seders, at Bar Mitzvahs, on buses, in pizza parlors, teen night clubs, etc. -- during this time of the Oslo "peace" than at any other. Arabs see the currently much touted, if moribund, Roadmap as Oslo II. [the rest]
So let's see ... by my reckoning, the 'chain of thought' goes something like Troy movie > Brad Pitt > Peter O'Toole > Masada > conquest of Jerusalem > Greeks > Virgil (!) > Laocoon > timeo danaos and all that. Wow ... more stream of consciousness writing there than spills even from my own keyboard.