While the Iliad covers the ending phases of the Trojan War, and the Odyssey depicts Odysseus’ journey home, it is primarily from Virgil’s Aeneid that we draw the story of the Trojan Horse.
In the myth, after 10 years of brutal conflict, the Argives (Greeks), following Odysseus’ lead, pretend to sail away from Troy, leaving only a wooden horse in their wake.
The Trojans declared that the horse was a trophy, and they brought it into the city.
Unbeknownst to the Trojans, Odysseus and a large continent of Argives were hiding inside the horse. When night fell, the Argives crept out of the horse and sacked the city, winning the Trojan War, which supposedly was fought in the 12th or 11th century B.C.
For thousands of years, the Trojan Horse was assumed to be a myth or, at most, a symbolic representation of the end of the historical Trojan War.
That assumption might not be correct.
According to the Greek Reporter last week, Turkish archaeologists working within what once were the walls surrounding the historical city of Troy — located on what now is the northwestern coast of Anatolia — have uncovered a series of fir planks and beams up to 49 feet long.
That description is very much in line with what Virgil described in the Aeneid, along with other Roman descriptions of the structure.
But what is even more shocking is what archaeologists said they found adjacent to the site.
Is the discovery the real Trojan Horse?
A bronze plate — reading “for their return home, the Greeks dedicate this offering to Athena” — was found, a plate explicitly mentioned in Quintus Smyrnaeus’ Posthomerica.
Boston University professors Christine Morris and Chris Wilson, who are leading the archaeological survey, said they have a “high level of confidence” that what they have found are pieces of the real Trojan Horse.
“The carbon dating tests and other analysis have all suggested that the wooden pieces and other artifacts date from the 12th or 11th centuries B.C.,” Morris said.
“This matches the dates cited for the Trojan War, by many ancient historians like Eratosthenes or Proclus.
“The assembly of the work also matches the description made by many sources. I don’t want to sound overconfident, but I’m pretty certain that we found the real thing.”
Personally, I’m not convinced.
While it certainly is plausible that the discovery really could be remnants of the Trojan Horse, it just as easily could be an unorthodox type of siege engine — a representation of direct conflict rather than Odysseus’ trickery.
Nevertheless, the Troy archaeological site has fascinated me for a long time, and this only adds a few thousand pieces to the puzzle.
It provokes interesting questions for any history or classics lover, such as: “What really happened during the Trojan War?” Also, “Is the myth more accurate than previously thought?”
I just hope Athena doesn’t decide to intervene in my life. I don’t want to end up like the Trojans.