Troy: myth and reality (British Museum)


Published to accompany the British Museum’s blockbuster exhibition, this book sheds new light on a fascinating story that has resonated for more than 3,000 years of human existence


ISBN: 9780500480557 Category:

Alexandra Villing, J. Lesley Fitton, Victoria Donnellan, Andrew Shapland


Troy is familiar to us from the timeless and epic tales of Homer’s Iliad and Virgil’s Aeneid. These have been retold over the centuries by writers from Chaucer to Shakespeare to Madeline Miller and Rick Riordan, and enacted by stars such as Elizabeth Taylor and Brad Pitt. But how much do we really know about the city of Troy; its storytellers, myth, actual location or legacy?

In this richly illustrated book, the story of Troy is told through a new lens. Published to accompany an exhibition at the British Museum, it introduces the storytellers and Classical artists inspired by the myths of Troy, then examines the tales themselves – from the Judgment of Paris to the return of Odysseus – through the Classical objects for which the museum is internationally known. The third section focuses on Heinrich Schliemann’s excavations at Hissarlik, introducing the nineteenth-century search for the location of Troy that convinced the world that this city did once exist. Also explored is the possible Bronze Age background for the myth of the Trojan War, the historicity of which remains unresolved today. The final section delves into the legacy of Troy, and the different ways in which its story has been retold, both in literature and art, from Homer to the present day. Focusing on the major characters – Helen of Troy, Achilles and Hector, Aeneas and Odysseus – it illustrates how artists from Cranach and Rubens to Romare Bearden and Cy Twombly have been inspired by this archetypal tale to reflect on contemporary themes of war and heroism, love and beauty.

Additional information

Weight 2063 g
Dimensions 26.1 x 28.7 cm
Publisher name Thames and Hudson Ltd
Publication date 15 January 2020
Number of pages 312
Format Hardback
Dimensions 26.1 x 28.7 cm
Weight 2063 g


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Lesley Fitton is Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Greece and Rome, and was previously Keeper and Curator of the Greek Bronze Age collections. Andrew Shapland is Curator of the Aegean World and Classical Greek collections at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, and was formerly Greek Bronze Age Curator in the Department of Greece and Rome. Alexandra Villing is a Curator of the Greek collections in the Department of Greece and Rome. Victoria Donnellan is Project Curator for the 'Troy' exhibition in the Department of Greece and Rome.