The Trojan Horse, Friend Or Foe?

Laocoon and the Trojan Horse | Courtesy of Dickinson College Commentaries
Laocoon and the Trojan Horse | Courtesy of Dickinson College Commentaries

It all started in ancient Greece, when everyone believed in all the great deities. Three goddesses were sitting, relaxing on Mount Olympus when an apple appeared. This is where it starts to get a bit messy. See, the apple was meant for the most beautiful goddess and of course, who wouldn’t want to be called the most beautiful of the goddesses? The three goddesses were Juno, queen of the gods, Minerva, goddess of wisdom and battle, and Venus, goddess of love and beauty. You probably see the predicament here.1

The Judgement of Paris | Courtesy of The British Museum

Well, all three goddesses wanted to be the receiver of this title and they decided to ask a mortal, one called Paris, a prince of Troy, to be the judge. After much bribing from each of the three goddesses, Paris finally went for the most appealing deal, which came from Venus. She offered him the most beautiful woman in the world, human, mind you, not goddess, because of course Minerva, in her mind, was the most beautiful of all. The most beautiful woman in the world was named Helen.2 The downside of it all was that Helen was married, and the way Paris got her wasn’t fair at all. And that caused the Trojan War, thank you Paris. After years of war, the Greeks knew that their strength was dwindling, and of course they came up with a plan to once and for all defeat the Trojans. This is where the end begins.3

The Greeks began building a horse made of timber, as tall as a hill with its ribs sheathed with plankings of cut pine, an impressive sight that was planned, or so they say, to be offered to the sea in order to achieve a safe return.4

Don’t Be Fooled By Trojan Horse | Courtesy of The New Orleans Tribune

But the real reason for the horse was to hide a number of Greek soldiers inside the horse’s hollow belly, and then give the horse to the Trojans as a gift without them noticing the soldiers inside. Once the horse was finished and ready to play its part, the Greeks left it behind on the grounds near the Dorian campsite, while they sped away on their ships and went into hiding behind a nearby island, waiting for the Trojans to take the horse into their city.5 A wooden horse as tall as a hill is very hard to miss, making the Trojans marvel at its grandeur.

When the Trojans discovered the wooden horse the next morning, there was debate on whether to bring the horse into the city or not. One Trojan named Thymoetes shouted yes, while another named Laocoön did not hesitate to attack the horse’s belly.6 If it weren’t for the gods’ sinister ways, or if they themselves weren’t crazed with pride, the Argive den wouldn’t have made them fools, and with a bloody piece of steel, Troy would still be standing.7 And since they didn’t notice any of that, the Trojans debated whether or not to haul the enormous horse inside and bestowed it upon their king.

Trojan Horse | Courtesy of UT Miners

Just then, an unknown Greek had been discovered. Trojans all around ran to see who it was. This unknown man was an abandoned outcast from the Greeks. With his voice full of misery, the Trojans felt sorry for him and let him speak about his woes.8 This man named Sinon went on to explain where he came from and what had happened with the Danaans. He convinced the Trojans he was innocent, and they accepted his words and continued questioning him. One of the questions was what the horse meant and why it was left behind. The horse was a figure of reparation for what the Greeks had done to one of Minerva’s temples.9 And with this, the Trojans let Sinon live.

Alas, tragedy was meant to strike the Trojans, for in that same day, Laocoön, the man who stabbed the horse, was attacked. Twin snakes came from the sea onto dry land all the way to Laocoön and his two sons. Once there, the snakes began squeezing Laocoön and his sons to death, finishing them off, for that was the curse of Minerva, the patron goddess of the hulk he stabbed.10

Laocoon And His Sons | Courtesy of Wikipedia

Night time finally came and with it the Greeks began to return to the gates of Troy. Who would have known that Sinon, the outcast of the Danaan, was a traitor all along, faking his grief and fear to gain the Trojans’ trust. Once all everyone went to their homes for the night, the Greeks started the last step of their plan to win. The soldiers got out from the horse then opened the gates and let the returning Greeks in. With them came fires all across the town with no one to stop them. The sack of Troy had begun and it met its doom that night.11 The Trojans were no more. They had lost everything. The survivors had to flee their city or face the consequence of death or slavery. And this is how Troy fell at the hands of a wooden horse. Laocoön was right in warning his people to beware of the Greeks, even when they are giving you gifts!

The Fall of Troy | Courtesy of Johann Georg Trautmann
  1. Salem Press Encyclopedia, January, 2017, s.v. “Trojan War,” by Todd William Ewing. The names of these goddesses are from the Roman mythology. Their Greek names were Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite.
  2. Salem Press Encyclopedia, January, 2017, s.v. “Trojan War,” by Todd William Ewing.
  3. Salem Press Encyclopedia, January, 2017, s.v. “Trojan War,” by Todd William Ewing.
  4. Virgil, The Aeneid, translator Robert Fitzgerald (New York: Vintage Classics, 1983), 34.
  5. Virgil, The Aeneid, translator Robert Fitzgerald (New York: Vintage Classics, 1983), 34.
  6. Virgil, The Aeneid, translator Robert Fitzgerald (New York: Vintage Classics, 1983), 35.
  7. Virgil, The Aeneid, translator Robert Fitzgerald (New York: Vintage Classics, 1983), 35.
  8. Virgil, The Aeneid, translator Robert Fitzgerald (New York: Vintage Classics, 1983), 36.
  9. Virgil, The Aeneid, translator Robert Fitzgerald (New York: Vintage Classics, 1983), 39.
  10. Virgil, The Aeneid, translator Robert Fitzgerald (New York: Vintage Classics, 1983), 41.
  11. Virgil, The Aeneid, translator Robert Fitzgerald (New York: Vintage Classics, 1983), 43.

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This Post Has 33 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Michael Mandujano

    The intentions of the Trojan Horse, is a brilliant war tactic, especially for it to hold Greek soldiers within its hollow stomach. However, Lacoon was a wise soldier since he immediately began poking at the Horses belly. Surprisingly none of the Greeks that were inside the hollow belly got injured. Overall, this was a very interesting article and I have gained a greater understanding why the Trojan War occurred.

  2. Avatar
    Mariet Loredo

    This was a very good and informative article. I have heard of the Trojan horse a bit but mostly I remember it form the scene in the movie Mr. Peabody & Sherman. This article really thought me about why the Trojan War happened and how the Greeks used the horse for their attack. It was a good idea for them to used the horse as a way in because in the end they won the war.

  3. Avatar
    Alejandra Mendez

    Very well written and informative article! I have previously heard of the causes of the Trojan War and of Paris playing a very important role in it, but I feel as though I have been told a different story. The story I have been told before involved Aphrodite as one of the competing goddesses in the argument between who was prettiest. She persuaded Paris into picking her as the most beautiful goddess because she promised him the most beautiful woman on earth to marry him just as the article mentioned.

  4. Avatar
    Tyler Sleeter

    Great story. I did not know too much about the Trojan horse so this article really explained things well for me. I knew the horse had to be big to hold several men inside, but I was not aware it was as big as a hill; it must have had many men inside. I found it interesting that Laocoon actually stabbed the horse many times in the belly, apparently without harming any of the Greek soldiers inside. I found it even more interesting that none of the Greek soldiers made any noise when the horse was being stabbed. I like that all of this happened because of the most beautiful woman.

  5. Avatar
    Samman Tyata

    I really loved you article. I had never heard about the Trojan Horse before reading this article. It is amazing to read that the real reason for the horse was to hide a number of Greek soldiers inside the horse’s hollow belly. I found your article really informative. It’s astonishing how the Greeks were able to use such great plan to fool and take down the Trojans. To sum it up, it was a good read.

  6. Avatar
    Veronica Spryszynski

    Great article! What a sad end to the Trojans. I think it would have been a good idea to inspect the horse before letting it through the gates. The greeks were so intelligent so make this plan about the bog wooden horse, and surprisingly so quiet throughout the whole time they were inside the horse especially when Laocoon stabbed the horse with his sword.

  7. Avatar
    Sebastian Castro Ramos

    This story of the Trojan Horse shows how astute the Greeks were. They managed to bring down a whole city, by taking the Trojans by surprise. I didn’t know much about the reason for the war between the Trojans and the Greeks. I knew there was some tension and rivalry between them, but I didn’t know it was because of Helen that the Greeks finally decided to destroy the Trojans. Excellent Article.

  8. Avatar
    Karina Nanez

    What an exciting story from start to finish. This is one of the most iconic and well known stories from ancient times, and it became even more interesting with this article. How unfortunate that Laocoon and his sons faced a terrible death because they warned their fellow citizens that a gift from a Greek is not to be trusted in times of war.

  9. Avatar
    Cherice Leach

    I remember hearing one of my professors speak about this story in class. It’s quite interesting actually. It’s crazy to see how mysterious and clever the Greeks were. The fact that they surrendered only to build a trap to take down the city of Troy, is quite menacing. Of course the Goddess made a promise to Paris that had severe consequences, the Gods always have a good twist up their sleeves.

  10. Avatar
    Zeresh Haman

    This was a very interesting article, I have heard the story of the Trojan Horse before, but I was unaware of the background story. It is interesting to read about how important being considered the “most beautiful” was to the goddesses. It is crazy how the Greeks were able to build a structure this big and fool the Trojans. Well written article.

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