Four centuries after the Mycenaean civilization lost its strength, the poet Homer created long story-poems, or epics, that kept its memory alive. His poems were based on old stories that had been retold through the centuries.
Homer built on these stories to give a powerful picture of a society in which honor and courage were everything.
Tradition says the war that Homer described in the Iliad was fought between the Mycenaeans and the Trojans. The Trojans lived in the city of Troy, in what is now north-western Turkey. The war has become known as the Trojan War.
According to legend the war began when a Trojan prince named Paris kidnapped Helen, the wife of a Mycenaean king. The king's brother, Agamemnon, took soldiers to Troy to get Helen back.
The conflict continued with no end in sight. Then the Mycenaeans came up with a plan to trick the Trojans. The legend tells how they built a huge, hollow wooden horse and dragged it to the gates of Troy during the night. The curious Trojans pulled the large horse into the city the next morning. Mycenaean soldiers hiding inside the hollow horse crawled out late at night. They opened the city gates to other Mycenaean soldiers waiting outside. By the following morning, the Mycenaeans had rescued Helen and set fire to the city of Troy.
The legend of the Trojan War, Homer's epics, and other stories left a lasting record of the early people of Greece. From this beginning, the Greek civilization continued to grow and change.
How did Homer keep alive the memory of Mycenae?