Stories, legends, myths - The Trojan Horse

We use the expression Trojan horse when a problem has been solved by trickery or when we want to suggest that a cheating gift can ruin a relationship or situation. It is the result of a legend also known as the story the wooden horse (translation from Homer's Greek) and many of you probably know it. If you are not among them or would like to re-read it, find it below. You'll also discover whether it's all legend or has a grain of truth.

Trojan horse
photo source: panoramio.com


Timeo danaos et dona ferentes

The story is very old, about 2500 years old. We know it from Homer's epic poem The Iliad. The legend begins with a competition between three goddesses, Aphrodite, Hera and Athena. Each wanted to win the golden apple on which was written for the most beautiful. When the young Trojan prince Paris, the judge of the competition, offers the apple to Aphrodite, she gives him the opportunity to marry Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world, but the wife of the Greek king Menelaus. Paris kidnaps Helen and takes her to Troy, and Menelaus sends an army led by Odysseus to bring her back. And so began the war between the Greeks and the Trojans, which lasted 10 years.

At the end of the 10 years, the army led by the Greek general Ulysses was tired and the soldiers wanted to go home. Troy had proved to be a fortified fortress with strong surrounding walls, very difficult to conquer. So Odysseus prayed to the goddess Athena, asking her to help him conquer Troy. Athena, angry with the Trojans because of the apple that Paris offered Aphrodite, gave him the idea of building a giant wooden horse inside which he could hide a group of elite soldiers, the rest of the army pretending to retreat to the sea. Suspecting that it has been abandoned, the horse will be taken inside the fortress by the Trojans, and the hidden Greek soldiers will emerge and attack.

Ulysses ordered his men to build the giant horse which, according to legend, was done in 3 days. When it was ready, 40 elite soldiers led by Ulysses entered through a secret trapdoor inside, hiding. The rest of the army, except for one soldier, mimed retreating to the sea. The remaining soldier convinced the citizens of Troy that he and the wooden horse had been left behind as an offering to the goddess Athena, lest she get angry that they had been cowards and overthrow their ships.

Some representatives of the city did not believe the Greek's story including the priest Laocoon who said: Timeo danaos et dona Ferentes (I fear the Greeks when I give gifts), the expression that has become famous. However, the Trojans decide to bring the horse into the city. At night, when everyone was asleep after the great feast they had made on the occasion of winning the war, the Greeks got off the horse, opened the gates of the fortress to the soldiers who had returned in the cover of night, slaughtered or took prisoner all the inhabitants and set fire to the fortress.

Trojan horse
photo source: scount.com
Trojan horse
photo source: bookpalace.com


How much is legend and how much truth

This is the legend. But is there any truth in it? Did Paris, Ulysses, Helen exist? For a long time it was thought that it was all just a story written for people's entertainment. But in 1884, the German Heinrich Schliemann, an amateur archaeologist, proved that near the ancient Hisarlik hilltop in Turkey, there may have been a great city with its own Acropolis, temples and buildings, which was in fact the city of Troy.

In 1871 Schliemann began excavations on Hisarlik Hill near the modern town of Canakkale and discovered even more than he expected. Evidence was found at the site that Troy existed as early as 2500 years before Homer mentioned it and lasted until the 6th century AD. The discovery completely changed the perception of the Homeric poems. Not only has it been discovered, but evidence has also been found that Troy was a large city with almost 10,000 inhabitants, with fortifications, defensive walls, towers and a highly developed city. Troy was a large port on the Aegean Sea and a major commercial centre of the time.

And perhaps, at some point, Ulysses, Helen and Paris lived in the city.

Trojan horse
Heinrich Schliemann
photo source: en.wikipedia.org
Trojan horse
you'll discover Mykonos
photo source: commons.wikipedia.org

About the author

Mihaela Radu

Mihaela Radu is a chemical engineer but has a great passion for wood. She has been working in the field for more than 20 years, wood finishing being what defined her during this period. She gained experience working in a research institute, in her own company, as well as in a multinational. She wants to continuously share her experience with those who have the same passion - and more.

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