Troy VIII
TOUR OF TROY VIII

A scrollable text of the movie narration:

Many visitors to this city come here for the same reason that you do: because they have heard the legends of the Trojan War. Now, though, the Greek-speaking people of the city call it “Ilion” and are part of the “Hellenistic” culture brought here centuries ago by Alexander the Great.

You can see that the city has a well-ordered grid system for its streets. Within memory of the older citizens, a fortification wall with several gates has protected Ilion.

The civic and business center of Ilion is the marketplace or agora. Here at one corner, the senate, or boule, meets to make important decisions. The building is called the Bouleuterion, the place for the boule. On the day of our tour, almost two thousand and two hundred years ago, the citizens of Iluim are rejoicing. The finishing touches have just been applied to the great Temple of Athena on the highest point of Ilion. In Greek cities this upper citadel is called the acropolis, which means literally “high city.”

Before we go up to the acropolis to look at the Temple of Athena, we’ll take a short detour to the city’s other sacred center.

Archaeologists call this religious precinct the “west sanctuary” because of its location. They are not completely certain which gods and goddesses were worshipped here, and ancient writers are curiously silent. Two temples face an open area with a low terrace wall around it. Higher walls enclose two more sacred areas with altars. We reach one of these precincts through a special gate building, called a propylaion.

This area has been sacred in Ilion for many centuries, and has gone through many changes. Throughout, however, the old Troy VI walls have remained visible from the sacred areas.

Back here in the agora, people will soon be celebrating a great festival called the Panathenaia in honor of Athena, who is supreme goddess of Ilion -- just as she is of Athens, the most famous city of the Greek world. We know from inscriptions and ancient writers that on this day the citizens may freely carry weapons, and a great parade will wind its way through the city, ending at the altar and temple of Athena.

The procession begins at a building in the agora called the Basileion. It circles around the agora and then heads northward to a gate in the city wall. A short distance downhill the people of Ilion reach a very large open-air theater building. Drama, musical contests and poetry readings are part of the day’s festivities. But the most important part of the whole event is yet to come. The parade comes to order once more and heads back to the city gate and agora. Finally the people begin their climb up to the great temple. First, they must go through a monumental gate building, or propylaion. Emerging on the other side the celebrants discover a wide open area surrounded by a portico, or stoa, on three sides.

All of this vast complex is in the plain and dignified style known as Doric. Parts of the open area are partitioned off for worship of other gods or heroes. Everywhere there are proclamations and dedications inscribed in stone, and put up for all to see.

As with the more mysterious West Sanctuary, worship in the acropolis has been going on here for many, many centuries, since the founding of Ilion.

Another feature of the Athena complex serves as a reminder of the Trojan War. Between the Temple and the Altar is a curious decorative well-head, very special to Ilion. Directly below the well head is the actual well room, and the only way to get there is through an underground passage way from outside the public area of the Temple.

Perhaps it is for the maidens of Lokris, who serve in the temple of Athena to pay the goddess back for the disrespect their countryman Ajax showed during the Sack of Troy. The Lokrian maidens have to hide from the sight of the citizens. We know from an inscription that there are severe punishments if the young women become careless and are seen as they go about their duties..

And so the great parade of the Panathenaia ends with a magnificent view over the Dardanelles and memories of the Trojan War.

 

Glossary terms:
acropolis
agora
altar
Bouletarion
citadel
Doric
Hellenistic
Ilion
Panathenaia
portico
propylaion
sanctuary
stoa
temple