- Art Gallery -

The Trojan horse, Burial Pithos, c. 670 BC, Archaeological Museum of Mykonos, Greece

The Trojan Horse (Δούρειος Ίππος) is part of the myth of the Trojan War, though it does not figure in the part of the war narrated in Homer's Iliad.

The Greek siege of Troy had lasted for ten years. The Greeks devised a new ruse - a giant hollow wooden horse. It was built by Epeius and filled with Greek warriors led by Odysseus. The rest of the Greek army appeared to leave whilst actually hiding behind Tenedos and the Trojans accepted the horse as a peace offering. A Greek spy, Sinon, convinced the Trojans the horse was a gift despite the warnings of Laocoon and Cassandra. Helen and Deiphobus even investigated the horse. The Trojans celebrated the raising of the siege hugely, and when the Greeks emerged from the horse the city was in a drunken stupor. The Greek warriors opened the city gates to allow the rest of the army access and the city was ruthlessly pillaged — all the men were killed and all the women and children taken into slavery.

The Trojan horse may or may not have been actually built and used. The only evidence we have are written sources.

There is a small museum founded in 1955 within the territories of ancient city Troy, near the Dardanelles (present-day Turkey). The museum includes the remnants of the city and a symbolic wooden horse built in the garden of the museum to depict the legendary Trojan horse. The wooden horse from the recent film Troy is displayed on the seafront in the nearby town of Çanakkale.

Heroes climbing out of the Trojan Horse (fragment, ca. 550 BC)

Based on this mythological episode, we get the term, Trojan horse, in which a supposed talent or apparent advantage is actually a curse, or "Trojan horse" tactics which are underhand. The term can also refer to a "sneak attack" in general. We also get the Latin phrase:

equo ne credite, Teucri!
Quidquid id est, timeo Danaos et dona ferentes

("don't trust the horse, Trojans! Whatever it is, I fear Greeks even when they are bringing gifts") spoken by Laocoon in Virgil's Aeneid which covers the siege of Troy in Book II. This has led to the modern saying "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts."

Greeks climbing out of the Trojan Horse

Trojan Horse, Lovis Corinth


Greek Mythology


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