The Trojan Women Setting Fire to Their Fleet is a painting by Claude Lorrain which was made in a mid-17th century. This painting is currently in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This painting is one of Claude Lorrain’s works of art that has caught the world’s attention.
Claude Lorrain is a French artist which is known for his poetic landscape paintings and often framed by large trees or classical architecture. Most of his life, he spent in Italy creating his art, most of his arts inspired by beauty, especially the lush and green countryside.
What Happened Behind this Claude Lorrain’s Painting?
Made in oil paint on canvas, the painting Claude Lorrain created represents the women of Troy burning their ships in an attempt to end a year of wandering after their city was captured by the Greeks.
The painting depicts Trojan women preparing to destroy their fleet which is topped by flags blown by fierce winds. What makes this painting so gorgeous is its mythological depiction against the background of the land, sea and sky covered in clouds. The fleet spent years exploring the sea and other places after the fall of Troy, the women were ready to start a new life in Sicily.
Historically, the Trojan women were exiled after their city was captured by the Greeks. Then, the Hellenistic goddess Juno instigates the women to burn the Trojan fleet so that their men will stop wandering and settle in Sicily.
However, Aeneas, a Trojan hero, the son of the Trojan prince Anchises prayed to the god Jupiter by summoning a rainstorm to save the ship from bursting fire. Suddenly, clouds and rain coming from a distance foreshadow a storm sent by Jupiter at Aeneas’ request to extinguish the flames.
Of course, the Trojan Women exile was not without cause. This is a series of events that led to the Trojan war. It can be interpreted that the exiled trojan population was a form of punishment from Greece.
The Trojan War began with a dispute between the goddess Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite, after Eris, known as the goddess of strife, threw a golden apple, which reads “for the fairest.” Zeus sent the goddesses to Paris. He determined that Aphrodite was the fairest who was entitled to the apple.
As a return, Aphrodite made Helene the most beautiful woman who eventually fell in love with Paris. Helena is the wife of Menelaos. Paris finally took her to Troy. From this incident, the Trojan war began as a result of the kidnapping of Helena from her husband by Paris, prince of Trojan son of king Priamos.
Because of Paris’ actions, Agamemnon, king of Mycenaean and brother of Menelaus, led the Achaean army to besiege Troy for ten years. Well, the Trojan War was a 10-year conflict between the city of Troy and the Greek army, led by King Agamemnon of Mycenae.
The Trojan War Started
In the first nine years, the Achaeans plundered the surrounding countryside as well as a number of towns and cities along the way. Then, in the tenth and final year of the war, the Greeks made enemies of the god Apollo by killing his beloved son and kidnapping Chryseis, daughter of Chryses, one of the pastors.
Finally, Chryses went to the Greek ships, where he offered Agamemnon a ransom in exchange for his daughter, although Agamemnon refused and urged him to leave so he would not be killed.
He then prayed to Apollo to lower the plague arrows into the Greek camp. After discovering the reason for the plague, Achilles then held a meeting with Greek leaders, where he urged Agamemnon to return Chryseis. Finally, Agamemnon relented and returned Chryseis.
However, Agamemnon took a gift from Achilles, a girl named Briseis, as a consolation for his loss. Naturally, this angered the hero and for the rest of the war, he, along with the Myrmidons under his command, refused to go to war.
At the same time, Achilles prays to his mother, Thetis, to convince Zeus to let the Trojans take advantage of the war, so that he can regain his honor.
How Was the Trojan War End?
The Trojan War, for ten years, raged with the deaths of heroes, including Achaeans Achilles and Ajax, along with the Trojans Hector and Paris. The Greeks come to the city of Troy with a Trojan turtle as a ruse planned by Odysseus.
In fact, the Greeks hid their best warriors in horses, while the remaining fleet sailed what the Trojans would not have seen. The Greeks’ ruse began by leaving a note saying they admitted defeat and offering them the horse statue as a gift.
Because it seems implausible, Laocoön tries to warn the Trojans that it is a trap. Unfortunately, she and her son were eaten by sea snakes. Not seeing anything dangerous, the Trojans eventually took the horse statue to town. When night fell, the Achaeans who were on the horse statue came out and opened the city gates, letting the rest of the army in.
The Achaeans burned Troy to the ground, slaughtering all men, with women and children being sold as slaves some Greeks even desecrated the temples of the gods, infuriating the gods.
In the end the city of Troy was captured by Greece and the Trojan women were exiled to Sicily.
Drama of Trojan Women Setting Fire To Their Fleet
Aside from Claude Lorrain’s painting, Trojan Women Setting Fire To Their Fleet was also represented in an Euripides’ drama which was produced in 415 BCE shortly after the capture of Melos by the Athenians.
Of course, a lot of people in that ear were wondering why Euripides wrote this play. Most people speculate on how a play might be accepted by Athenian audiences in the wake of the brutal colonization of Melos. Paul Roche stated that Euripides “wrote The Trojan Women as a prophecy of tragedy to shock Athens”.
Well, in The Trojan Women play, we see that slave girls had noble thoughts in stark contrast to the inhumanity of the victorious Greek warriors.