The Myth of the Trojan War

Achilles fights HectorBowl for mixing wine and water Made in Athens about 500-480 BC

The myth of the Trojan War was a great and continuing inspiration to Greek artists and poets. The main lines of the story were sketched out by early epic poets such as Homer (eighth century BC), but the tradition was never firmly fixed. Later poets treated the myth freely; small incidents were enlarged, new episodes were introduced, local variants incorporated and different (even contradictory) interpretations offered.

This rich tradition was also explored by visual artists, who felt equally free to formulate their own visions and interpretations of the myths.

The tour which follows presents a series of key scenes from the myths relating to the Trojan War, as depicted on Greek vases now in the collections of the British Museum. The paintings illustrate the variety of ways in which ancient Greek artists chose to visualize the myth's significant moments.