Who Built the Trojan Horse?

Trojan Horse
Trojan Horse. Clipart.com

Trojan War FAQs > Trojan War Creator

I received the following question from email:

I was under the distinct impression that an artist named Epsuis was the mastermind behind the horse. It was his idea and he drew the horse. He and Odysseus then went on to build the Trojan Horse. Please reply, Libby

Answer: The name of the Greek in question is Epeus (or Epeius or Epeos), a skilled boxer (Iliad XXIII), who is credited with building the Trojan horse with the help of Athena, as is told in the Odyssey IV.265ff and Odyssey VIII.492ff.​

Pliny the Elder ​(according to "The Trojan Horse: Timeo Danaos et Dona ferentis," by Julian Ward Jones, Jr. The Classical Journal, Vol. 65, No. 6. March 1970, pp. 241-247.) says the horse was invented by Epeus, which corresponds with what Libby wrote. However, in Vergil's Aeneid Book II, Laocoon warns the Trojans against the treachery of Odysseus which he sees behind the horse-gift of the Greeks. Incidentally, it's here that Laocoon says: timeo Danaos et dona ferentis 'Beware of Greeks bearing gifts. In the Epitome of Apollodorus V.14, credit is given Odysseus for conceiving the idea and Epeus for building:

By the advice of Ulysses, Epeus fashions the Wooden Horse, in which the leaders ensconce themselves.

There are other opinions on who devised the idea of the horse (with Athena's help) and what the horse really was, but whether Odysseus had the inspiration for the horse and/or figured out how to get the Trojans to take it into the city, Odysseus, tamer of the Trojans, is credited with using the horse to trick the horse-loving Trojans.

Books referenced

Another relevant article to examine is "Virgil and the Wooden Horse," by R. G. Austin. The Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 49, Parts 1 and 2. (1959), pp. 16-25.

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