The Trojan Horse is iconic and legendary, yet it is not mentioned even once in Homer's Iliad. In fact, in the entire eight texts of the Epic Cycle , it is only mentioned once and in passing in Odyssey, which tortures us with just a single line:
“A single horse captured Troy...
We have no firm idea what this ‘horse’ actually was. The traditional narrative is probably most well known, and the sequence of events is:
However, the notion of men hiding within the horse first appears only in the Roman age with Virgil's Aeneid. It does seem like a poetic invention.
There are many more theories, wide and varied:
There are even other theories, and the one makes most sense to me as a historian is that the horse was a siege device. Later writers Pausanius and Pliny the Elder were both convinced that this was the case, the former stating:
“Anyone who doesn't think the Trojans utterly stupid will have realized that the horse as really an engineer's device for breaking down the walls.
Siege technology in this age was advanced. Some devices were often named after animals – The Assyrian Horse, the Wild Ass, The Wooden One-Horned Animal.
Assyrian tablets depict the first of these as a ram shed with a ‘neck and head’, the head containing a drillbit used to pick apart walls. One can see in it the visual resemblance with a horse.
The siege engine theory is just one of many that I write of in my latest novel The Shadow of Troy!
What are your thoughts and theories? Please do leave your ideas in the comments section, below :)
Gordon Doherty, writer, history fan, explorer.
Empires of Bronze: The Dark Earth - the story of the Bronze Age's catastrophic end.