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Museo Lapidario Maffeiano of Verona: front of an Etruscan cinerary urn from Volterra which depicts the abduction of Helen
The events chanted by Homer in his poems were popular among the pre-Roman Italian tribes. Many Etruscan tombs contained Greek vases (e.g. the Euphronios Krater) which were decorated with episodes of the War of Troy, which were also depicted on locally made cinerary urns.
"Achilles Mourning the Death of Patroclus" relief on a sarcophagus found at Ostia (see the same scene in a sarcophagus found at Tyre)
The interest towards Troy grew in the IInd century BC when the Romans began to conquer territories in today's Turkey. In 85 BC however, Gaius Flavius Fimbria, a Roman politician who opposed Silla, did not hesitate to plunder Troy (the VIIIth settlement which did not have walls), because its inhabitants had sought the protection of Silla. Episodes of the Iliad continued to be depicted in frescoes (e.g. at Pompeii), mosaics (e.g. at Neapolis) and reliefs.
Temple to Athena (Roman period)
During the initial phases of their conquests, the Romans did not care much about their past,
but after the victory against Carthage and the Macedonian Wars, Cato the Elder, a Roman statesman, wrote a book about the origin of the city. He claimed that Rome was founded by descendants of Aeneas, a Trojan warrior who fled Troy with a few companions. After a long journey he landed on the Italian shores where his son Ascanius founded Alba Longa.
Cato based his statements on some ancient accounts, but his book was meant to fight the growing influence of Hellenism on Roman lifestyle, by establishing an association between Rome and Troy, the enemy of the Greeks.
The link between the two cities was enhanced by the Roman claim that the Palladion, a wooden statue given by Athena to the Trojans which ensured the safety of their city, had been brought to Rome where it was kept by the Vestals.
For these reasons Julius Caesar, who himself pretended to descend from Aeneas (and his mother Venus), promoted the foundation of Ilium Novum (New Troy, Ilium being an alternate name for the city, hence Iliad). A Temple to Athena was built at the top of the town in remembrance of the ancient one.
Shrine to the Great Gods of Samothrace with a raised platform of the Roman period
During the long reign of Emperor Augustus Roman poets Virgil and Ovid gave new accounts of the War of Troy which were more sympathetic towards the Trojans.
Ovid - The Metamorphoses - Book XIII - Translated by Sir Samuel Garth, John Dryden, et al
(above) Bouleuterion, small hall for meetings of the city council; (below) inscription listing several Roman emperors (Sebastoy in Greek)
"Great queen (Aeneas to Dido, Queen of Carthage), what you command me to relate
Renews the sad remembrance of our fate:
An empire from its old foundations rent,
And ev'ry woe the Trojans underwent;
A peopled city made a desert place;
All that I saw, and part of which I was:
Not ev'n the hardest of our foes could hear,
Nor stern Ulysses tell without a tear.
And now the latter watch of wasting night,
And setting stars, to kindly rest invite;
But, since you take such int'rest in our woe,
And Troy's disastrous end desire to know,
I will restrain my tears, and briefly tell
What in our last and fatal night befell.
"By destiny compell'd, and in despair,
The Greeks grew weary of the tedious war,
And by Minerva's aid a fabric rear'd,
Which like a steed of monstrous height appear'd:
The sides were plank'd with pine; they feign'd it made
For their return, and this the vow they paid.
Thus they pretend, but in the hollow side
Selected numbers of their soldiers hide:
With inward arms the dire machine they load,
And iron bowels stuff the dark abode.
Virgil - Aeneid - Book II - Translated by John Dryden
Episodes not narrated by Homer were added by Virgil and their personages were represented in works of art. The image used as background for this page shows the head of Laoco÷n in the Vatican Museums.
Virgil - Aeneid - Book II - Translated by John Dryden
Ilium Novum had all the facilities of a Roman town. Archaeologists believe it had a sizeable theatre in the northern part of the hill, in addition to an odeon, a covered hall for music and poetry performances, at the foot of its southern section. Turkish authorities however are not very keen on uncovering monuments of the Roman period at this site. Turkey has so many imposing monuments of that period at Ephesus, Miletus, Perge, Aspendos, etc., that another Roman theatre would not raise much interest.
(left) Water Cave; (right) nearby Roman tanks used for breeding fish
For the time being there is no evidence of an aqueduct supplying New Ilium with water. The Romans however enlarged the access to an underground spring half a mile south of the town which had been used since the time of Troy II. They used terracotta pipes to channel the water into tanks.
Archaeologists have found many items related to the Roman period of Troy. The most interesting ones have been moved to the Archaeological Museum of Canakkale whereas broken columns and statues, lintels bearing inscriptions, jars, pipes, etc., are kept in open air areas at the archaeological site.
The fortunes of Roman Troy declined during the IVth century AD. The last emperor said to have visited it was Julian who believed that the Empire would have gained by enhancing its ancient origin.
The absence of Byzantine fortifications which usually are found in most ancient towns suggests that Troy was a mere village by the VIth century.
Roman period items at the archaeological site