An Explanation of the Term "Trojan Horse"

The Trojan Horse is a crafty contraption that allowed the Greeks to put an end to the 10-year-old Trojan War. The wily Greek hero Odysseus conceived the project and design for the Trojan Horse; Epeus is credited with the actual building of the Trojan Horse.

The Greeks left a giant wooden object made to look like a horse at the Trojan city gates. Some of the Greeks pretended to sail away but actually sailed just out of sight. The other Greeks stood waiting, inside the belly of the wooden beast.

When the Trojans saw the giant wooden horse and the departing Greek troops, they thought the wooden horse was a parting gift for the gods, so most of them wanted to wheel it into their city. The decision to move the Trojan Horse into the city was opposed by Cassandra, the prophetess whose fate was never to be believed, and Laocoon, who was destroyed, along with his two sons, by sea serpents after pleading with his fellow Trojans to leave the Trojan Horse outside their city walls. The Trojans took this as a sign that the gods were displeased with Laocoon's message. Besides, the Trojans preferred to believe that since the Greeks were gone, the long war was over. The city opened the gates, let the horse in, and celebrated riotously. When the Trojans passed out or fell asleep, the Greeks climbed down from the belly of the Trojan Horse, opened the city gates and ushered the rest of the troops into the city. The Greeks then sacked, destroyed, and burned Troy.

Also Known As: The horse, the wooden horse

Examples: Because it was through the belly of the Trojan Horse that Greeks were able to sneak into Troy, the Trojan Horse is the source of the warning: Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.

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Gill, N.S. "An Explanation of the Term "Trojan Horse"." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Gill, N.S. (2023, April 5). An Explanation of the Term "Trojan Horse". Retrieved from Gill, N.S. "An Explanation of the Term "Trojan Horse"." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 29, 2023).