July 15th, 2004



So with all the brouhaha going on around Troy, I thought it might be worth mentioning Eric Shanower's epic Age of Bronze.

Epic? A comic book? Definitely. Two hardbound collections in and Agamemnon has just sacrificed his daughter Iphegenia to still the winds preventing the Mycenaean fleet from departing Aulis to attack Troy. Yep, two books complete and the Greeks aren't even at Troy.

Of course, there's a ton of backstory ignored by Hollywood. Hell, there's a ton of backstory that isn't in the Illiad. Eric spent the last decade reading everything on the siege of Troy he could find in English translation. The Illiad isn't, suprisingly enough, even a comprehensive source on the myths and history of the Trojan war. Eric has uncovered bronze-age poetry, classical Greek accounts, Roman theater and more recent drama (bet you didn't know Troilus and Cressida didn't even appear in classical sources!). He's also been reading the current archaeological reports from the digs at Troy, and they're very interesting.

I couldn't let you go without talking about the sex. Most accounts of the Trojan war base their characterizations on only a small part of the story. Makes for a lot of arguments. "Achilles and Patroklus were lovers!" "They were just buddies!" Of course, the arguments are kind of ridiculous, since it's entirely unclear how much of the story of the Trojan war is historical and how much is mythical. If you look at the sources there's evidence of all sorts of sex going on between all sorts of men, women and gods. Achilles fathered a child, and was boffing Patroklus. Neither is mutually exclusive, and both are true in context.

Anyway, buy the books, and keep buying them as more volumes come out. I'll warn you, if you're looking for pornographic comics of Achilles getting it on with, well, whomever, you'll be disappointed. If you're looking for pictures of half-dressed Greek men sailing around the Agean, you'll probably be satisified. If you're looking for a well-researched and wonderfully detailed retelling of the Trojan war, you'll be thrilled.
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