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The Iliad relates four days in the tenth year of the decade-long siege of Troy; the Odyssey describes the journey home of Odysseus, one of the war's heroes.Other parts of the war are described in a cycle of epic poems, which have survived through fragments.Many scholars believe that there is a historical core to the tale, though this may simply mean that the Homeric stories are a fusion of various tales of sieges and expeditions by Mycenaean Greeks during the Bronze Age.

Whether there is any historical reality behind the Trojan War remains an open question.Instead, the story is assembled from a variety of sources, some of which report contradictory versions of the events.The most important literary sources are the two epic poems traditionally credited to Homer, the Iliad and the Odyssey, composed sometime between the 9th and 6th centuries BC. The Iliad covers a short period in the last year of the siege of Troy, while the Odyssey concerns Odysseus's return to his home island of Ithaca, following the sack of Troy.The Achaeans slaughtered the Trojans (except for some of the women and children whom they kept or sold as slaves) and desecrated the temples, thus earning the gods' wrath.Few of the Achaeans returned safely to their homes and many founded colonies in distant shores.

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