in search of the Trojan Horse
- Tsara asked for sources for the Trojan Horse story. Ooo boy, a chance to
Oddly, the Iliad isn't about the Trojan War--it starts years after
Helen is stolen and months, or at least weeks, before Troy is sacked.
The Iliad focusses, like a play, on a few days' time (after all, the
Greeks invented this and many western dramatic conventions) during the
ninth year of the war, when two of the Greek warlords nearly lose the
campaign due to an internal squabble.
So where'd the horse tradition come from? Its use to win the city is
summarized in the Odyssey (Book 8 around line 500, only ten lines or
so) and there's one touching or creepy anecdote, depending on one's
viewpoint, about Helen nearly giving away the warriors hidden inside
(Odyssey book 4, around line 270). Those two chunks are enough for you
to make up your own version of the story and tell it out of context.
(URLS for these two passages:
If either of the above two pop up in Greek, find English under the
"version" pulldown menu.
Another place to look is Apollodorus, a first century BC? Greek writer
who summarizes the story of the Trojan Horse here:
The scholarly notes below are a bit dense but tell what's known about
the lost epics that recounted what Homer left out.
Another place that's absolutely fabulous is old Edith Hamilton's
Mythology; she's out of date, sure, but she was a good scholar, and her
presentation of all the Greek myths is perfectly good unless you're a
really nitpicking expert.
But my favorite ancient retelling of the story of the Sack of Troy is
book two of the Aeneid by Vergil. Not just because it's the most
beautiful Latin ever written IMHO. Also because it's all the little
bits Homer left out, all the myths and cool additions to the story that
had slowly accrued to the original Iliad for the last seven hundred
years, retold for the first time in poetic language and meter as good as
the original. And it's only one chapter of the Aeneid. You can find
several versions of John Dryden's rather old-fashion (and out of
copyright) translation online, or again, here's the Perseus translation:
That should be more than you wanted. :)
--Kithyra de amne avium