Trojan Horse

1 Legend
2 Possible explanation
3 Men in the horse
4 Images
5 References

The Trojan Horse is part of the myth of the Trojan War, as told in Virgil’s Latin epic poem The Aeneid. The events of this myth take place after Homer’s Iliad, and before both Homer’s The Odyssey and Virgil’s The Aeneid.


This incident is mentioned in the Odyssey:-(1713-1769)

What a thing was this, too, which that mighty man [Odysseus] wrought and endured in the carven horse, wherein all we chiefs of the Argives were sitting, bearing to the Trojans death and fate! 4.271 ff

But come now, change thy theme, and sing of the building of the horse of wood, which Epeius made with Athena’s help, the horse which once Odysseus led up into the citadel as a thing of guile, when he had filled it with the men who sacked Ilium . 8.487 ff (trans. Samuel Butler)

The most detailed and most familiar version is in Virgil’s Aeneid, Book 2 (trans. John Dryden).

By destiny compell’d, and in despair,The Greeks grew weary of the tedious war,

And by Minerva’s aid a fabric rear’d,

Which like a steed of monstrous height appear’d:

The sides were plank’d with pine; they feign’d it made

For their return, and this the vow they paid.

Thus they pretend, but in the hollow side

Selected numbers of their soldiers hide:

With inward arms the dire machine they load,

And iron bowels stuff the dark abode.

Laocoon, follow’d by a num’rous crowd,Ran from the fort, and cried, from far, aloud:

Չ€کO wretched countrymen! What fury reigns?

What more than madness has possess’d your brains?

Think you the Grecians from your coasts are gone?

And are Ulysses’ arts no better known?

This hollow fabric either must inclose,

Within its blind recess, our secret foes;

Or ‘t is an engine rais’d above the town,

T’ o’erlook the walls, and then to batter down.

Somewhat is sure design’d, by fraud or force:

Trust not their presents, nor admit the horse.Չ€™

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, but actually hid behind Tenedos. Meanwhile, 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; in the end, the Trojans accepted the gift. In ancient times it was customary for a defeated general to surrender his horse to the victorious general in a sign of respect. It should be noted here that the horse was the sacred animal of Poseidon; during the contest with Athena over the patronship of Athens, Poseidon gave men the horse, and Athena gave the olive tree.

The Trojans hugely celebrated the end of the siege, so that, 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 to enter, and the city was pillaged ruthlessly, all the men were killed, and all the women and children were taken into slavery.

The Trojan Bell is an ancillary component to the myth; according to lore, it signaled the beginning of the assault on Troy.

The Trojan horse may or may not actually have been built and used. The only evidence known to modern scholars are literary references written long after the alleged event.

Within the territories of the ancient city of Troy, near the Dardanelles (modern Turkey), is a small museum, founded in 1955, that includes the remnants of the city, along with a wooden horse built in the museum garden to depict the legendary Trojan horse. The wooden horse from the recent film Troy is displayed on the seafront in the nearby town of أ‡anakkale.

From this mythological episode comes the term Trojan horse as a general term describing an apparent advantage that is actually a trick; “Trojan horse” tactics are those considered sneaky, underhand, deceitful. The term can also refer to a “sneak attack” in general. The term “Trojan” is also widely used today to refer to malicious computer software that looks harmless to the user but actually contains a computer virus or spyware.

Book II of Virgil’s Aeneid covers the siege of Troy, and includes these lines spoken by LaocoأԳn:

equo ne credite, Teucri.

quidquid id est, timeo Danaos et dona ferentis.

Meaning (depending on the translation) “Do not trust the horse, Trojans! Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks even bringing gifts”, the lines are the origin of the modern adage to “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.”

Possible explanation

Pausanias, who lived in the 2nd century AD, wrote on his book Description of Greece [1]:

That the work of Epeius was a contrivance to make a breach in the Trojan wall is known to everybody who does not attribute utter silliness to the Phrygians (1,XXIII,8)

where by Phrygians he means the Trojans. There has been some modern speculation that the Trojan Horse may have been a battering ram resembling, to some extent, a horse, and that the description of the use of this device was then transformed into a myth by later oral historians who were not present at the battle and were unaware of that meaning of the name. We know that Assyrians at the time used siege machines with animal names; it is possible that the Trojan Horse was such.

Men in the horse

According to the Little Iliad it had 3,000 in its belly, Apollodorus 50[1],Tzetzes 23,[2] Quintus Smyrnaeus gives the names of thirty, and he says that there were more of them.[3] In late tradition it seems it was standardised at 40. Their names follow:

  • Odysseus (leader)
  • Agapenor
  • Ajax
  • Amphidamas
  • Amphimachus
  • Anticlus
  • Antimachus
  • Antiphates
  • Calchas
  • Cyanippus
  • Demophon
  • Diomedes
  • Echion
  • Epeius
  • Eumelus
  • Euryalus
  • Eurydamas
  • Eurymachus
  • Eurypylus
  • Ialmenus
  • Idomeneus
  • Iphidamas
  • Leonteus
  • Machaon
  • Meges
  • Menelaus
  • Menestheus
  • Meriones
  • Neoptolemus
  • Acamas
  • Peneleus
  • Philoctetes
  • Podalirius
  • Polypoetes
  • Sthenelus
  • Teucer
  • Thalpius
  • Thersander
  • Thoas
  • Thrasymedes


  1. ^ Epitome 5.14
  2. ^ Posthomerica 641-650
  3. ^ Posthomerica xii.314-335

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