Black Ships Before Troy

Black Ships Before Troy
Black Ships Before Troy

Black Ships Before Troy by Rosemary Sutcliff retells the story of the battle of Troy as told in The Iliad by Homer, beginning with cause of the battle (the fight between the Greek goddesses Hera, Aphrodite, and Athena over the Golden Apple) and ending with the final sack of Troy.

The summary is this:  Hera, Aphrodite, and Athena are fighting over a Golden Apple that reads “To the Fairest”.  No god will decide who the fairest is so the goddesses chose Paris, a shepherd essentially (who’s really a prince) to choose between them.  Hera offers him wealth and power if he chooses her.  Athena offers him supreme wisdom.  But Aphrodite offers him a wife as fair as herself.

Typical male, he chooses the woman who happens to be Helen, wife to Menelaus, King of Sparta.  Oddly enough, Paris is married to to a wood nymph.  (This tale definitely says something about the moral values of the time period).

Helen bewitched by Aphrodite, falls in love with Paris and runs off to Troy with him.

Now, before this time, everyone wanted to marry Helen because of her beauty including Odysseus.  So, Helen’s father made all her suitors swear to stand by her husband if ever he needed them.  Hence, this is how all the Greek heros ended up in the war despite their attempts (notably by Odysseus) to renege.

So, Menelaus wants Helen back so he gathers the Greeks who sail to Troy and lay siege to the city.  This lasts for nine years until the wars finally start.

After many, many battles involving heroes on both sides such as Hector and Achilles and heavy losses by both, Odysseus comes up with the idea to build a huge wooden horse to hide in in order to gain access to Troy.

The rest of the Greeks pretend they are leaving by sailing away, leaving the Horse behind.  They also cunningly decide to leave one soldier behind whom the Trojans do not know, Sinon, who’s job it is to tell the Trojans that the Horse is an offering to appease Athena.

Of course, the Trojans fall for it.  They drag the Horse into their city where that night the plan unfolds exactly as planned.  Troy is sacked and the Greeks finally return home with the spoils of war.

My favorite quote from the book is from Helen as she discusses with Odysseus how she feels about starting this war, “Always, in these times, I am wretched save when sleep comes to me.  Therefore, I have come to look upon sleep as the best of all gifts.”

I like this because I know exactly what she’s talking about.  Sleep is a gift from God that offers us a respite from our world, a chance for our brain to shut down and quit worrying, and to rest.  Great stuff here.

For some reason, I have discovered that retellings of The Odyssey are much more common than The Iliad.  This is the best book in my opinion available for The Iliad for kids.  There are many retellings of The Odyssey that are very good.

This book is quite lengthy but is broken into short chapters for easy reading.  We finished this book in a weekend.

The pictures by Alan Lee are not graphic despite the many battle scenes in the book and are authentic to the time period.

This is a perfect prequel to The Odyssey as this book ends right when all the Greeks are finally returning home after 10 long years of being away.  It will definitely give you a greater understanding of Odysseus when you do read about his adventures returning home from the battle of Troy.

I love ancient history (history in general but especially this stuff) and this book is an excellent portrayal of Greek society and culture around 800 BC in terms of religion, military conquests, and lifestyle as well.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 11, Day 2: Hebrews 4:14-16

Summary of passage:  We have a great high priest (Jesus Christ) who has gone through the heavens and who has been tempted in every way, just as we have–but remained without sin.  He can sympathize with out weaknesses.


3a)  A great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, and who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin.

b)  According to Webster’s Dictionary, have also means “to receive, accept, and to stand in a certain relationship to”.  We receive, accept, and stand in a certain relationship to Jesus.

4)  Jesus’ greatest temptation was the questioning of who he is, what his mission was, and it’s ultimate fulfillment.  Jesus faced human temptations and had human emotions, which included human desires.  He didn’t want to die (his mission).  He probably had great joy in helping people and healing them.  The Devil tried to tempt him with human material items/desires.

This is significant because the Devil knows our greatest weaknesses as well.  He tried to tempt Jesus, playing off of Jesus’ greatest fears.

Jesus himself says the spirit is willing but the body (being human) is weak.  Isn’t this true for us all?  We all have good intentions but when it comes down to us, our humanness often wins in the end.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Probably fulfilling God’s desires for me with human intentions instead of with His intentions.  Doing His will selfishly, I guess, and on my own terms and not His.

c)  We can tell ourselves that if Jesus withstood temptations then so can we.  However, I’m unsure how helpful this will be because then we think ‘Well, that was Jesus.  I mean, He was great, powerful, the Son of God!  Of course he would withstand temptations.  If I were the Son of God, I’d be able to as well.  But I’m just a mere nobody mortal.’

Overcoming temptations is an act of will–nothing else.  We must be strong just like Jesus was and have the courage to stand up in the face of the Devil and our particular temptation.

5a) God and Jesus sit on the throne of grace.  God grants us grace.  So to approach the throne of grace is to approach God and Jesus with our problems, lay it out for them, and ask for help to solve/overcome them.  Here, we will find mercy and grace from the One who loves us beyond imagining.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I don’t like this question.  In my opinion, EVERY circumstance is especially needful.  If you have a need, God has the solution.  You need but ask.  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  Philippians 4:6

If it worries you, take it to the throne.  NOW!  Don’t wait.  God isn’t waiting…

Right now, my family is praying for a move because the place we live is draining life from my husband and me.  We are praying He opens us up a home where we can stay for an extended period of time and quit moving around all the time.  We are praying for stability in a place we want to live.

I am praying for my husband’s job.  For him to feel appreciated for all the hard work he does or to open up a different opportunity where my husband can grow and bloom for a long time to come.

We don’t have a church right now.  We haven’t since we moved.  I just don’t have the heart to search one out.  Our church is at home right now, where we read the Bible and discuss God’s word together.

I pray generically for my country since I believe the problems are too great to name specifics.

Conclusions:  What I got out of this is Philippians 4:6.  We need to pray.  Pray with all of out might for ourselves, our family, for others, for our church, and for our nation.  And ask God, the solution master, for His will to be done.  And soon!  Then verse 7 says the peace of God will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.  We will have peace when we pray!

This is probably not what I was supposed to get out of Hebrews.  Oh, well.

I love this site for the passage:

I use Enduring Word all the time for clarification but here they put it succinctly.  I used them for my answer to 5 and they were the ones who reminded me of Philippians.