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Teaching Activities: War With Troy, Episode 5

Starting points

  • Why was Episode 4 called First Blood? (This was the first battle of the war.)
  • Who is the other warrior — the Trojans’ ‘secret weapon’ — who sheds the first blood? Give a detailed description of him. (Cygnus: “A son of Poseidon … white-skinned, white-tongued, white-lipped, white-haired … as white as sea foam, as white as the seventh wave of the sea.”)
  • What happens to Cygnus? (He changes into a swan and flies away.)
  • Achilles had a horse called Beauty. Who gave him this horse? (Poseidon.) What does it say to him before battle? (It reminds him that, although a mortal cannot harm him, a god could.)


  • Hand out a transcript of the first part of Episode 5. Re-play the audio up to the end of track 13, where Paris challenges any Greek warrior to fight him. Ask the learners to listen for ways the language helps the reader to imagine the scene. As they listen for a second time, ask them to mark where they think the writing is especially helpful and/or effective. Point out how the use of lists emphasises the work done and the scale of the operation.
  • Still looking at the first part of Episode 5, consider the skilful juxtaposition of the description of the busy preparations for war with the description of the peaceful, pastoral scene. You can also introduce the use of personification here: “the fields, the farms, the vineyards, the cattle grazing, all unknowing.”
  • Discuss how a change of voice adds to the sense of urgency, how the use of the verb “watched” helps build tension and increases awareness of impending danger. Read aloud the description of the Greek army leaving camp. Why is it so effective? Ask learners to close their eyes and imagine being there, watching all those warriors coming to wage war on your family and friends. Perhaps ask them to write a letter to a friend outside Troy, describing how they feel as they watch the Greeks prepare for war, knowing they have done nothing to deserve it.
  • In this episode there are powerful similes. Find them in the transcript and, in pairs, make up some more for the Greeks preparing for war; for the Greek kings moving amongst their men; for Paris’ description of Hector’s strength; for Menelaus’ face; for the shattering of his sword.
  • In a large class group each student can, in turn, become Paris by standing in the centre of a circle and calling on the enemy to come and fight. Someone must be Hector or Menelaus to accept the challenge.
  • Show the class the picture, Menelaus and Paris. Which fighter do they think is Menelaus? (The figure on the left with the spear in a dominant position and his helmet so tall it stands outside the ‘frame’ of the picture.)
  • Discuss the action of the goddesses. Mortals think they have power but are they right?
  • What is this war about? The abduction of Helen? The anger and the jealousy of the goddesses? Is it possible to identify a single cause? Either here or at the end, hold a formal debate and argue the case for a particular point of view.
  • Discuss the last line. Why is it effective and how does the music add to the atmosphere?

Further activities

Discuss the feelings of the ordinary warriors on both sides. The kings and the princes wanted to fight but do the warriors feel this way?

>> Back to other teaching resources for this episode