The Greek origin of the Trojans

Here we present selected excerpts from Dionysius of Halicarnassus’ book ‘The Roman Antiquities‘ (The Loeb Classical Library). Dionysius here proves the Greek origin of the Trojans.


“That the Trojans, too, were a nation as truly Greek as any and formerly came from the Peloponnesus has long since been asserted by some authors and shall be briefly related by me also. The account concerning them is as follows. Atlas was the first king of the country now called Arcadia, and he lived near the mountain called Thaumasius. He had seven daughters, who are said to be numbered now among the constellations under the name of the Pleiades; Zeus married one of these, Electra, and had by her two sons, Iasus and Dardanus. Iasus remained unmarried, but Dardanus married Chryse, the daughter of Pallas, by whom he had two sons, Idaeus and Deimas; and these, succeeding Atlas in the kingdom, reigned for some time in Arcadia. Afterwards, a great deluge occurring throughout Arcadia, the plains were overflowed and for a long time could not be tilled; and the inhabitants, living upon the mountains* and eking out a sorry livelihood, decided that the land remaining would not be sufficient for the support of them all, and so divided themselves into two groups, one of which remained in Arcadia, after making Deimas, the son of Dardanus, their king, while the other left the Peloponnesus on board a large fleet. And sailing along the coast of Europe, they came to a gulf called Melas and chanced to land on a certain island of Thrace, as to which I am unable to say whether it was previously inhabited or not. They called the island Samothrace, a name compounded of the name of a man and the name of a place. For it belongs to Thrace and its first settler was Samon, the son of Hermes and a nymph of Cyllene, named Rhene. Here they remained but a short time, since the life proved to be no easy one for them, forced to contend, as they were, with both a poor soil and a boisterous sea; but leaving some few of their people in the island, the greater part of them removed once more and went to Asia under Dardanus as leader of their colony (for Iasus had died in the island, being struck with a thunderbolt for desiring to have intercourse with Demeter), and disembarking in the strait now called the Hellespont, they settled in the region which was afterwards called Phrygia. Idaeus, the son of Dardanus, with part of the company occupied the mountains which are now called after him the Idaean mountains, and there built a temple to the Mother of the Gods and instituted mysteries and ceremonies which are observed to this day throughout all Phrygia. And Dardanus built a city named after himself in the region now called the Troad**; the land was given to him by Teucer, the king, after whom the country was anciently called Teucris. Many authors, and particularly Phanodemus, who wrote about the ancient lore of Attica, say that Teucer had come into Asia from Attica, where he had been chief of the deme called Xypete, and of this tale they offer many proofs. They add that, having possessed himself of a large and fertile country with but a small native population, he was glad to see Dardanus and the Greeks who came with him, both because he hoped for their assistance in his wars against the barbarians*** and because he desired that the land should not remain unoccupied.

But the subject requires that I relate also how Aeneas was descended: this, too, I shall do briefly. Dardanus, after the death of Chryse, the daughter of Pallas, by whom he had his first sons, married Bateia, the daughter of Teucer, and by her had Erichthonius, who is said to have been the most fortunate of all men, since he inherited both the kingdom of his father and that of his maternal grandfather. Of Erichthonius and Callirrhoe, the daughter of Scamander, was born Tros, from whom the nation has received its name; of Tros and Acallaris, the daughter of Eumedes, Assaracus; of Assaracus and Clytodora, the daughter of Laomedon, Capys; of Capys and a Naiad nymph, Hieromneme, Anchises; of Anchises and Aphrodite, Aeneas. Thus I have shown that the Trojan race, too, was originally Greek.”

*This description reminds us of various ancient Greek texts which refer to the ‘Cataclysm/s’, with people forced to live on the mountains because of great flood/s.

**It is rather clear that Dionysius here declares his ignorance of the first and original name of the territory. What the Greeks of the 1st century B.C. -and since some centuries before, at least- called the ‘Troad’ had some other name/s in older times. Places are given names depending on a variety of conditions. If another nation inhabits a territory, usually, the place receives another, new name, coming from the language of its new masters. Today we know of the existence of various ruins in the region of this old territory of Troas/Ilion/Troy; we know of various levels of ruins, each from a different era. This doesn’t necessarily mean that all these ruins come from the same civilization or national group, neither the opposite. We simply do not know for sure. Unless some written, known, laguage is found that can fully enlight us, from each level. Until then, almost everything remains an assumption.

***This looks like a clear indication that around the region of Troas various non-Greeks were leaving.

Research-Selection: Isidoros Aggelos

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