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The Trojan Horse at the Close of the "Iliad"

Author(s): George Fredric Franko


Source: The Classical Journal, Vol. 101, No. 2 (Dec. - Jan., 2005/2006), pp. 121-123
Published by: The Classical Association of the Middle West and South, Inc. (CAMWS)
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30038644
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THE TROJAN HORSE AT THE CLOSE OF THE ILIAD

Abstract: Homer thrice alludes to the Trojan horse near the Iliad's end: Epeios
knocks out an unwary opponent (23.68-91); Priam commands his people to haul
lumber into the city without fear of ambush (24.778-9); the poem's final word sug-
gests Troy's inability to survive without Hector hippodamos.

T
he Iliad offers frequent proleptic allusions to the fall of Troy but
never overtly refers to the ruse of the wooden horse.' Although
the horse never appears in plain view, near the end of the epic
Homer thrice hints to those listeners knowing the traditional story
that it lurks just beyond the poem's horizon.
First, the craftsman of the beast makes a cameo in the penulti-
mate book when Epeios, literally the "horse-man" (cf. LfgrE), about
whom we have heard nothing to this point, emerges to defeat Eury-
alos in a boxing match during the funeral games of Patroclus. Epeios
triumphs with a knockout:

...irTL 8' OpvuTo S6LO 'ETrEL6S,


Ki4E h6 1TGVTVTVTa 1TraptJLOV 0196' 6p' ETL 6TIV
OEGTfKELV' GCLTO) yap O~riptTrE aL6Lrt yvuia.

...and godlike Epeios moved forward,


and he hit him on the cheek as he glanced about, and he could
no longer
stand; for his glistening limbs collapsed. (23.689-91)

With marvelous enjambment, the blow knocks Euryalos off his feet
and incapacitates him. This episode might strike a listener as alle-
gorically proleptic if one concurs with Richardson (1993) that:
"Epeios knocks his opponent out with an upper cut on the jaw, at the

' A tabular summary of Iliadic allusions to the sack of Troy may be found at Haft
(1990) 56. The contrast with the Odyssey is marked, for in that poem the horse is in-
voked three times. Menelaus (4.266-89) recalls Odysseus' bravery as the best of the
Argives waited inside the carved horse and how Helen walked about the hollow am-
bush, the koilon lochon (4.277). Demodokos (8.499-520), at the request of Odysseus,
sings of the horse and calls it a koilon lochon (8.515; cf. 8.507, koilon doru). The third
mention comes from Odysseus himself (11.523-32) who, no longer concealing his

identity from the Phaiakians, boasts: fl~iv cvaKXivOL TVCUKLVi X6Xov" 86' iErrtOEvat ("I
was in command to open and to shut our clever/packed ambush," 11.525).

THE CLASSICAL JOURNAL 101.2 (2005/06) 121-3

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122 GEORGE FREDRIC FRANKO

moment when Eurualos is looking for an ope


guard" (244). Epeios attacks when his oppo
guard, not unlike the unwary Trojans.2
Second, a mere thirty lines from the end of t
shadows the imminent destruction of Troy
inside the walls. In preparation for the funera
delivers the final speech of the poem:

GIETE vi)0 Tp0rES tX a dUaUv 6, Pl 6E' TL IvC


6ELi]qT' 'ApyEdv TTUKViO)v XOov-

haul now, Trojans, lumber into the city,


heart
fear any clever/ packed ambush of the Argives. (24.778-9)

In the traditional story, the fall of Troy transpires for precisely this
reason: the Trojans haul into their city a horse-shaped contraption of
lumber, a clever ambush packed with Argives.3 In her study of refer-
ences to Odysseus as the sacker of Troy within the Iliad, Haft (1990)
concludes by quoting Iliad 24.778-81 and observing that: "[s]oon the
truce will end, Achilles will be dead, and Priam's Troy will have
fallen to the pukinon lochon of Odysseus." As Haft rightly argues,
Priam's injunction that the Trojans need fear no pukinon lochon glori-
fies Odysseus by establishing a direct verbal parallel to Odysseus'
own identification of the wooden horse as a pukinon lochon at Odyssey
11.525.4 But Homer invites us to connect these lines with more than

2 Perhaps it was no coincidence that Quintus Smyrneus chose the verb paptaind to
describe Odysseus emerging from the horse with Epeios close behind (13.43).
3 Homer uses xula to connote "timber" fit for burning rather than "lumber" fit for
construction. Garvie (1994) points out that the tradition overwhelmingly refers to the
horse as doureios (332-3); it is always thus in Quintus Smyrneus and the paltry rem-
nants of the cyclic epics, though we cannot know for certain that they never sang of a
hippos xulinos. Among later sources, Konon (1st century BCE) has Helenus prophesy
doom in the wooden horse, 3uXvy irTv1qv T1TETrrptoCPivov ECTLV "IXlov aXvcat L (FGrH 26
F 1, p. 201.30); Austin (1964) thinks the line "a clear remnant of a hexameter" (126),
hence likely deriving from an earlier epic poet. Apollodorus claims that the horse was
made from the xula of Mount Ida (Epitome 5.14), and the learned poet and historian
Agathias (6th century CE) called the horse of Epeios a kakon xulon (Anth. Gr. 9.152).
4 The fact that Aristarchus did not read 11.525 in his Odyssey (though he referred
to it in his Hypomnemata) suggests that someone - a copyist, scholiast, rhapsode, or
Homer himself - perceived a thematic connection between II. 24.779 and Od. 11.525
and sought to strengthen that connection at the lexical level. While the phrase pukinon
lochon also occurs with reference to Bellerophon (1. 4.392), lochoi are the particular
specialty of Odysseus (cf. Edwards (1985) 15-41), and the adjective pukinos should
remind us of Odysseus' skill at construction. It is the adjective applied to the marital
bed that he built and shared with Penelope, the bed by reference to which she tricks
him into revealing his identity (pukinon lechos: Od. 23.177 and 179; one might be so

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THE TROJAN HORSE 123

just Odysseus, for Priam's injunction to haul lum


out fear identifies for the audience the very ma
sacking pukinon lochon and indicates that the Tr
incautiously bring this ambush inside their wall
terance the fate of Troy is sealed. As such, the k
port Morrison's (1992) conclusions that in the fin
Homer ceases to introduce deceptive predictio
narrator respects the tradition" so that "[t]he au
utter certainty what follows: ...Troy will be sacke
inside the horse (102-3).
Third, as Homer equates the death of Hector wi
(Schadewaldt (1966) 156-7 n. 4), we can hear a fu
wooden horse approaching in the highly dactylic
poem: is oo y' cytAErrov T"rCov "EKTOpOS [mTT-
they made burial of Hector, breaker of horses,"
last word, hippodamoio, leaves the audience with
owing of the inability of the Trojans without H
most fatal horse.5

GEORGE FREDRIC FRANKO


Hollins University

WORKS CITED

Austin, R. G. 1964. P. Vergili Maronis Aeneidos. Liber Secundus. Oxford.


Edwards, Anthony T. 1985. Achilles in the Odyssey. Hain.
Garvie, A. F. 1994. Homer: Odyssey. Books VI-VIII. Cambridge.
Haft, Adele J. 1990. "'The City-Sacker Odysseus' in Iliad 2 and 10." TAPA
120: 37-56.
Mader, Bernhard. 1987. "Epeios." In M. Meier-Brtigger, ed., Lexicon de
fridgriechischen Epos. 12 Lieferung. G6ttingen. 628-9.
Morrison, James V. 1992. Homeric Misdirection. False Predictions in the Iliad
Ann Arbor.
Richardson, Nicholas. 1993. The Iliad: A Commentary. Volume VI. Cambridge.
Schadewaldt, Wolfgang. 1966. Iliasstudien. 3rd ed. Darmstadt.

bold as to posit a punning echo in the formulaic interchange of lochos/lechos). The


hero's skill in construction culminates in placing his marital bed within a room of
close-set stones (pukndisin lithadessi, 23.193) and behind a close-set door (pukin6s ara-
ruias, 23.194).
' The author wishes to thank the editor and referees of CJ, and Joe W. Leedom,
Berry Professor of Liberal Studies at Hollins University, who first suggested to me
that Priam's words might refer to the horse.

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