I recently read the Iliad, and I was surprised by how many of the events surrounding the fall of Troy that I had heard about here and there were left out. What are the oldest extant sources for the other parts of the myth not touched on in the Iliad? For example, the golden apple, the Trojan horse, the slaying of Achilles by Paris, etc.

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    Does en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trojan_War#Sources answer your question? Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 2:57
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    I believe the Trojan horse is mainly from the Aeneid.
    – user14111
    Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 4:37
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    @user14111: but Virgil didn't make most of the stuff in the Aeneid up ... he was working from older sources. Are any of those still around?
    – Peter Shor
    Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 11:55
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    Kimch lover's link is a good one to which I would add George Grote's multi-volume History of Greece, available free online from The Gutenberg Project. First published in 1846, it is a veritable treasure trove of information about that ancient culture.
    – DJohnson
    Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 17:57

1 Answer 1


Collectively, the stories are called the Epic Cycle. They tell the whole story of the Trojan War, from the Judgment of Paris to the death of Odysseus. It includes the Iliad and the Odyssey (though the term "Epic Cycle" is often used just to refer to non-Homeric books).

Like those two, the Epic Cycle is based on older, oral stories, possibly dating back as far as the original events. Their authors are unknown, just as the tradition of Homer's authorship is doubtful. They are assumed to have been written around the same time as the Iliad and Odyssey, plus or minus a century or so.

Unfortunately, most of these books are lost. We know them from other tellings of the myths. We know their stories from critical analysis of them in other books, including Aristotle. Occasionally these include fragments of a few lines, but the books are effectively gone.

The stories were well known by then, and many authors told them: Ovid, Pausanias, Lucian, etc. The story of the Trojan Horse is best known from Quintus of Smyrna. Like other myths, authors felt free to tell and re-tell the stories, adding details that eventually became "canon". They may or may not have known the versions in the Epic Cycle.

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