The Trojan Horse is a story from the Trojan War about the subterfuge that the Greeks used to enter the independent city of Troy and win the war. In the canonical version, after a fruitless 10-year siege, the Greeks constructed a huge wooden horse, and hid a select force of men inside including Odysseus. The Greeks pretended to sail away, and the Trojans pulled the horse into their city as a victory trophy. That night the Greek force crept out of the horse and opened the gates for the rest of the Greek army, which had sailed back under cover of night. The Greeks entered and destroyed the city of Troy, ending the war.
Metaphorically, a "Trojan Horse" has come to mean any trick or stratagem that causes a target to invite a foe into a securely protected bastion or place. A malicious computer program that tricks users into willingly running it is also called a "Trojan horse" or simply a "Trojan".
The main ancient source for the story is the Aeneid of Virgil, a Latin epic poem from the time of Augustus. The event is also referred to in Homer's Odyssey. In the Greek tradition, the horse is called the "wooden horse".
There has been speculation that the Trojan Horse may have been a battering ram or other sort of siege engine 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. Assyrians at the time used siege machines with animal names, often covered with dampened horse hides to protect against flaming arrows; it is possible that the Trojan Horse was such. Pausanias, who lived in the 2nd century AD, wrote in his book Description of Greece "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" where, by Phrygians, he means the Trojans.
Some authors have suggested that the gift might also have been a ship, with warriors hidden inside. It has been noted that the terms used to put men in the horse are those used by ancient Greek authors when describing the embarkation of men on a ship, and that there are analogies between the building of ships by Paris at the beginning of the Trojan saga and the building of the horse at the end; ships are called "sea-horses" once in the Odyssey. This view has recently gained support from naval archaeology: ancient text and images show that a Phoenician merchant ship type decorated with a horse head, called hippos (=horse) by Greeks, became very diffuse in the Levant area around the beginning of the first millennium BC, being used to trade precious metals, and sometimes to pay tribute after the end of a war; it is suggested therefore that the original story viewed the Greek soldiers hiding inside the hull of such a vessel, possibly disguised as a tribute, and that at some time this term was misunderstood in the oral transmission of the story, giving origin the Trojan horse myth.
A more speculative theory, originally proposed by Fritz Schachermeyr, states that the Trojan Horse is a metaphor for a destructive earthquake that damaged the walls of Troy and allowed the Greeks in. In his theory, the horse represents Poseidon, who as well as being god of the sea was also god of horses and earthquakes. This theory is supported by the fact that archaeological digs have found that Troy VI was heavily damaged in an earthquake, but is hard to square with the mythological claim that Poseidon himself built the walls of Troy in the first place.
Pictorial representations of the Trojan Horse earlier than, or contemporary to, the first literary appearances of the episode can help clarify what was the meaning of the story as perceived by its contemporary audience. There are few ancient (before 480 BC) depictions of the Trojan Horse surviving. The earliest is on a Boeotian fibula dating from about 700 BC. Other two are on relief pithos vases from the adjoining Grecian islands Mykonos and Tinos, both generally dated between 675 and 650 BC, the one from Mykonos being known as the Mykonos vase. (Historian Michael Wood, however, dates the Mykonos vase to the 8th century BC, before the written accounts attributed by tradition to Homer; and concludes from that evidence that the story of the Trojan Horse existed before those accounts were written.) Other archaic representations of the Trojan horse are found on a Corinthian aryballos dating back to 560 BC, on a vase fragment to 540 BC, and on an Etruscan carnelian scarab.Read more at wikipedia.org/wiki/Trojan_Horse.
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