I'm sure we'll see a few more in this vein ... the U.S.-as-Rome thing gives way to the U.S.-as-Troy:
First, there are some technical problems with the movie: factual things like 10 years of war are collapsed into 12 days, and both Sparta and Mycenae, inland cities, are put on the coast. But these are not serious, and "Troy" is done rather well.
The essentials are right, and the lessons of "The Iliad" are still there. For this story is much more than the blood, guts, sex and violence that are bringing in those crowds. The story of the fall of Troy has lessons for our generation, lessons about the self-deceit of pride, the violence and uncertainty of war, and the arrogance of ambitious men.
In case you missed the movie or you never did get around to reading "The Iliad," the Greeks band together purportedly to get back Helen, the seduced queen of Sparta.
But in reality, Helen is cover; everyone has his own agenda. Achilles wants everlasting fame. Agamemnon wants power and wealth. Priam, king of Troy, played wonderfully by Peter O'Toole, is old, dependent on his advisors and too prone to indulge his immature son, Paris. Hector, the older brother, is the only good guy in this story, and he dies.
"The Iliad" is the story of all of them making human mistakes. Priam's mistakes are, however, the most costly, for he is the king and principal decision maker. Priam is careful. He always consults his military advisors and the priests of Apollo before he makes his mistakes. We, and Hector, his son, know that they are mistakes even as he makes them.
The point that I think is most important to us today is the place of Priam's military advisors and the soothsayers or priests of the god Apollo, the patron of Troy. Priam's military advisors assure Priam that their army can hold out against anything and that they can win the war. Those advisors are full of bluster and themselves and obviously wrong.
Similarly, Priam, a religious man, demands assurances from the priests, and they repeatedly tell him that the omens are right and predict victory under the protection of Apollo.
The applications to today are obvious. We were assured that our military could control the situation in Iraq, that the Iraqis would welcome us, that we needed only a few troops and that democracy in Iraq would spread to neighboring countries. In effect, they are evil, God is on our side, and good must prevail.
In fact, as in "The Iliad," everyone in this sorry mess of a war has his own agenda. The weapons of mass destruction and planting democracy are again thin cover for the real agenda. The goal of those waging the Iraq war is the oil income and profits based on the presence of American troops in this oil-rich region. As Agamemnon was seeking control of the Aegean Sea, so America is seeking to control the Persian Gulf.
George Bush is the well-intentioned but hapless Priam who is watching everything go wrong. He will very likely be lost in the flames of his own policy. Ahmad Chalabi is the chief priest making up the necessary omens to advance his agenda though some Christians also aspire to that role. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld is the prideful military advisor guaranteeing victory without effort. In "The Iliad," such men at least died fighting for the mistakes they made. [more from the Lebanon Daily News]