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The Trojan War | Der Trojanerkrieg

Introduction to the Text

This unusual account of the Trojan War - a cornerstone of Ancient Greek mythology, and one which was frequently retold and reimagined in the European Middle Ages - was discovered sandwiched in a compilation of different historical works, including excerpts from the chronicles of Rudolf von Ems and Jens des Enenkels and the latter part of the Repgau chronicle. Combining excerpts from different texts to produce a single narrative was a common practice in the Middle Ages, especially in the case of historical texts. Such compilations were often produced so that the text would better suit the needs of the patron - the person paying for the production of the book. Although the manuscript in which this text was found dates to the fifteenth century and offers historical information going up to 1350, the language of this poem indicates an earlier date of composition, probably in the thirteenth century.

While today the most famous retelling of the Trojan War remains Homer's epic poem, the Iliad (composed c.1260-1180 BCE), this version was not well known to medieval Europeans, who instead got their knowledge of the legend from a variety of purportedly historical works. It is therefore unsurprising that this thirteenth-century poem was found in a history book. However, it diverges from the well-known story by casting the hero Aeneas as a traitor, and by massively condensing ten years of war and intrigue into just a few hundred lines. One open question is whether the poem was intended to be humorous - read it and judge for yourself!

About this Edition

Our translation is based on the edition of the text published by Bernoulli, A. “Bruchstücke eines Trojanergedichts.” Germania (28), Vienna: 1883, pp. 30-38. The edition is of the single manuscript in which this poem is found: Basel E VI 26.


Translated by Kathryn Starkey, Björn K. Buschbeck, Robert Forke, Mae Velloso-Lyons, Mareike Reisch, and Kathleen SmithEncoded in TEI P5 XML by Mae Velloso-Lyons, and Jordan Rosen-Kaplan

Suggested citation: Anonymous. "The Trojan War." Trans. Kathryn Starkey, et al. Global Medieval Sourcebook. Retrieved on January 20, 2022.