The Trojan War: What is it good for?

By Davis Hill, Staff Writer


Classics: No other word inspires such fear in the undergraduate mind. For those who have had to sit through honors English and mythology classes, I feel your pain. There are many ways to die, but death by boredom is one of the worst. And classics are just about the most boring books around.

This is unfortunate, because professors are always making you read classics. And let’s be honest; you didn’t even make it halfway through the Spark Notes before falling asleep. Some of you fell asleep just thinking about the Spark Notes.

Well, never fear. I’ve read all of these books, or at least parts of some of them, and I have prepared a special document that summarizes all of the key points in an easy-to-follow format consisting of words.

Classic Digests: The Ancient Greeks

The Iliad:

It is the tenth year of the Trojan War, codename: “Operation Desert Horse,” and the Greeks are running low on supplies.

After Agamemnon, king of the Greeks, drinks the last beer in the mini-fridge, Achilles, who had called dibs, becomes very angry. He refuses to continue fighting until—this is true—a., an entire chapter is devoted to how beautiful his shield is, and b., the warring soldiers are compared to swirling leaves at least 536,143,234 times.

Fortunately for the Greeks, but unfortunately for the reader, both of Achilles’s wishes are granted and the Greek army stomps Troy into oblivion, after which Achilles, who is basically a career murderer and rapist, makes a bid for the U.S. presidency. Many citizens consider him to be extremely qualified.

The Odyssey

One day Odysseus, king of the island nation of Ithaca, throws a giant rager in his castle, but then is drafted into the Trojan War. However, it is such a good party that 19 years later no one has noticed that he is gone.

His absence happens to be very convenient for all the partygoers, who, in addition to going through liver transplants at the rate of one per month, are mainly concerned with hitting on Odysseus’s wife Penelope.

Meanwhile, the Greeks win the Trojan War, and everyone sails for home. Odysseus takes a wrong turn, though, and has a bunch of adventures instead.

This is the part where everyone gets all confused because of all the “interwoven themes” and “mythological significance” and “foundations of western culture” and everything else professors are always telling you about.

Well, that’s rubbish. Most of the Odyssey is just Odysseus killing things. Aside from that, all you need to remember are two things: the lotus and the “magical delights.”

On the Island of The Lotus Eaters, Odysseus finds a completely sustainable artist community with a negative carbon footprint whose members eat a plant called the Lotus, which makes them “totally chill, man.” From the sound of it, this is not the sort of “lotus” that the EWU Police would be happy to have you keep in your dorm room in Dressler Hall, if you know what I mean.

Then Circe, a beautiful, voluptuous sorceress, traps Odysseus on her island and forces him to “enjoy her magical delights.” After that, Calypso, a beautiful, voluptuous nymph, traps Odysseus on her island and forces him to “enjoy her magical delights.” And after that the Sirens, a group of beautiful, voluptuous musicians, nearly trap Odysseus on their island, but his men bravely save him from having to “enjoy their magical delights.” I’m sure he was very happy about that.

Are you catching on to a pattern here? Odysseus and his men get trapped by these women because somehow, their ships are always catching fire or mysteriously breaking. I, frankly, am starting to wonder whether Odysseus burned the ships himself.

After a while, Zeus decides that Odysseus has had enough and orders Hermes to send Odysseus home so he can fight the suitors. After killing all of the suitors, Odysseus is reunited with Penelope, who is thankfully not mad that for probably 12 years of his 19-year journey Odysseus basically “enjoyed the magical delights” of nearly everyone he came across.

Finally, Athena commands Odysseus to walk inland until he can no longer see the ocean, which is actually kind of funny when you remember that Odysseus lives on a small island.


Clytemnestra, wife of Agamemnon, decides that she is sick of having a husband who, despite being king of all the Greeks, somehow always “forgets” to clean the bathroom when it’s his turn. Also, she is sort of mad that he sacrificed their only daughter as part of a pagan sex orgy.

When Agamemnon returns, Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus brutally murder him by forcing him to listen repeatedly to the collected works of Justin Bieber. When Agamemnon’s son Orestes, equipped with industrial-grade earplugs, shows up to avenge Agamemnon, who at this point is a bearded pile of goo, a bunch of gods appear and tell everybody to, more or less, “Chill out, man.” The play ends with a rollicking, song-and-dance version of “Why Can’t We Be Friends.”


The king and queen of Thebes are horrified to learn that their newborn boy, Oedipus, is fated to kill his father and marry his mother.

In order to prevent this, they leave him on a mountainside to die. After they leave, a wandering shepherd finds the boy and brings him to Corinth, where he is raised as a heavy metal singer.

Oedipus is famous for defeating the Sphinx, a terrible beast whose monstrous deeds include talking in the theater, eating children and listening to Linkin Park, but not necessarily in that order. Although hardened by years of listening to the album “Meteora,” the Sphinx is no match for the horrific guttural yowls of heavy metal vocals and drops dead the moment Oedipus opens his mouth. Laius, the king of Thebes—who has absolutely no relation to the man sitting in a king’s chariot that Oedipus killed on the path to Thebes—is missing, and as a prize for defeating the Sphinx, Oedipus marries the queen, Jocasta.

Their relationship is wonderful and Oedipus is a good ruler, but something is nagging him: why does Jocasta keep calling him “son”? Finally the truth is revealed: Jocasta, Oedipus’ wife, is also his mother. Oedipus blinds himself and prepares to spend the rest of his life as a wretched invalid.

However, his autobiography, “Honey, I’m Home” subtitled “I Didn’t Know They Were My Parents,” quickly tops the Athens Best Seller List, and he is able to spend the rest of his days sipping champagne and laughing at the “99 percent.”

Many scholars still debate whether Oedipus could have avoided this outcome or not, but that doesn’t really matter. The real moral of the story is that you can get away with anything as long as a., you can deny it in court and b., you make ton of money from the memoir.


After falling into a bubbling vat of green acid, Medea emerges as a psychopath willing to sacrifice the entire city of Gotham in order to strike at her arch-nemesis, Batman. No, wait—I’m thinking of the Joker.

Actually, Medea is a witch who is willing to sacrifice the entire Greek city of Corinth in order to strike at her arch-nemesis Jason, to whom, many husbands would not be surprised to learn, she is married.

Jason can’t figure out why she’s so mad. All he did was convince her to condemn her family, wooed her away from her home country, married her, gave her children, and then cheated on her. As far as ancient Greece goes, that’s just another day at the office.

But for some reason this really upsets Medea. First she murders their children, and then—to Jason’s horror—destroys all of his backup tapes of the 1200-1183 B.C. World Series. When Jason finally corners her on the roof of the Gotham City Police Department, he realizes that all the hostages are disguised as gunmen, and that Medea has planted bombs on some of the ferries in the harbor. Or maybe that’s still the Joker.

Views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the Easterner