May 23, 2024 at 9:21 am

Historians Weigh In On Whether Or Not The Trojan Horse Ever Really Existed

by Trisha Leigh

Source: Shutterstock

Stories exist for a multitude of reasons, and the further the listener is from the original teller, the harder it can be to know for sure if it’s true or not.

If the Trojan Horse and Helen of Troy were just a story that someone made up to teach people a lesson, it’s still valuable – it still worked, after all.

But did it exist in a historical sense?

Like much ancient history, there’s probably no way to know if a bunch of Greeks pretended to gift Troy a giant horse so they could hide inside it and take the city.

The story has been told by some pretty famous writers for thousands of years, but the very first mention of the tale wasn’t found in writing until 500 years after it supposedly occurred.

Source: Shutterstock

That’s a lot of time – too much to believe the author heard it from any primary source.

In fact, there’s not much primary source material to suggest the Trojan War existed at all, nevermind the memorable way in which it was won.

Troy was probably the name of a Bronze Age city in what is now western Turkey. It’s remains were discovered by German explorer Heinrich Schliemann in the 1870s, and although they were sparse, they were dated to around 1200 BCE.

Homer really only mentions the horse in passing in Odyssey. In the poem Aeneid, penned by Roman poet Virgil, is a more substantial description of the event.

That said, modern archaeologists like Dr. Armand D’Angour of Oxford think the giant horse could have been a clever metaphor.

“Archaeological evidence shows that Troy was indeed burned down; but the wooden horse is an imaginative fable, perhaps inspired by the way ancient siege-engines were clothed with damp horse-hides to stop them being set alight.”

Of course, ancient artifacts made of wood aren’t likely to have survived, meaning there will likely never be any actual evidence either way.

Source: Shutterstock

It’s kind of amazing, then, that the idea of the Trojan Horse has become so ubiquitous in modern culture.

Then again, it is the perfect metaphor for something that invades and destroys within.

So, like many stories-turned-fables that have murky origins, it might not actually matter whether it is true or not.

If the lesson endures, they have done their jobs well enough.

If you thought that was interesting, you might like to read about the mysterious “pyramids” discovered in Antarctica. What are they?