Historical Essay

An Essay By Lucia // 12/2/2007


Lucia Froula

July 17th, 2007




 Summary In the Aeneid, the Trojan Aeneas tells the tale of the fall of Troy. Part of the story is the horrible death of Laocoon, who saw the Trojan horse and knew what it truly was. Laocoon throws his spear and it strikes the horse, and the wood sounds hollow. Though it is obvious that the horse is a trick, the Trojans want to think they have beaten the Greeks, and choose to turn deaf ears to Laocoon and listen to Sinon, a treacherous Greek who lies to them about the horse. Believing it is safe, the Trojans do not destroy the horse. Soon after, Laocoon, who is a priest of Saturn, sacrifices a bull. While his back is turned, a pair of huge serpents rises out of the sea and attacks his two small sons. Then they move toward Laocoon, and try to devour him. He gives a good fight, but is not successful at surviving the monsters’ attack. The Trojan people believe that he deserved his foul end, since the Trojan horse was consecrated to the gods and he harmed it with his spear. Therefore, no one stops the horse from entering the city, with its inside full of Greek soldiers. At night, they jump out, and the sack of Troy begins. Retelling of the Story, from Laocoon’s Point of View Do you want to know why I, Laocoon, am standing here in the Underworld, unable to cross the river Styx to my eternal resting place? I will tell you why, but it is a long and sorrowful tale, only to end worse than it began. While I still walked the earth I was a Trojan, proud of my city and willing to go to all costs to defend it. The Greeks had attacked, and we had endured a long and fearful siege, when one day, the Greeks were gone. We were tentative, wary, but not careful enough. For we did ensure that no Greeks were waiting in the harbor, planning a surprise attack……but were we careful of the awful gift the Greeks had given us? No, and that is what caused the downfall of my beloved city. I remember that day so clearly. We had just opened the gates of the city, and were beginning to feel joy come to us; beginning to feel free again. And then we saw it; that horrible horse that was full of enemies and doom. It was grand, a sight to behold. It stood extremely tall, was carved intricately and made of fine wood and the people milled around it, admiring its fine beauty. They congratulated themselves on their victory over the Greeks; impressing them so much that their enemies had left so wonderful a gift. Children ran between the horse’s legs, playing joyful games. For some of them it was their first time out of the city, for the Greeks had not given us peace for many years. But I did not trust the Greeks. I shouted at my fellow Trojans, telling them not to believe they were safe, for either it was a trap with soldiers inside, or it was a machine to help them climb the walls of Troy. No one listened, but I had my good strong spear with me, and I launched it from my arm to the wood, and as it struck it made a hollow, echoing sound. At this the people looked at me, and perhaps would have cared about what I said, but another figure appeared. It was a young Greek, bound in chains. His name was Sinon. I did not like the look of him; his eyes appeared craftily evil. He then implored the Trojans to have mercy on him for his fellow Greek countrymen hated him. In this way he obtained the trust of the Trojans. He then wove a tale about how he knew the Trojan horse to be harmless. The liar! I wish I knew then what I now know, then I would have driven my spear into him on the spot. But I allowed myself to gain a sense of false security, though deep down I knew it was wrong. He finished lying to us, and then he smiled. If only I paid attention to my mind, not my feelings! Then I would have pushed away my desires for peace, and seen that sinister smile as it truly was, showing triumph in deceiving! But I wanted to believe that Sinon’s story was true, and I did. I am a priest of Saturn, and that day I was sacrificing a bull in thanksgiving for our deliverance from the Greeks. When I look back on the bull I was leading to the altar, I think of Troy, for both were so unknowing, so trusting, as they were led to their doom. I was fairly near the shore, and had just bound the bull up in cords when I heard shouts from ahead of me, people screaming at something behind me. When I turned and looked back, my heart was struck still with fear. There were two giant serpents rising out of the ocean. They made the water splash and foam, and the waves were disturbed greatly, so large were these monsters. Their mouths were open, and they hissed, and the sound was more fearful than the hiss of Grecian arrows flying over our walls. I say fear entered into my heart, but the fear was not for me, for I am no coward. The fear was for my young sons, who were directly in the path of the serpents! Before my eyes the serpents attacked my dear sons. My sons’ screams and the sounds of their death filled the air. At this my blood boiled, and I rushed at the serpents, dagger raised to kill. But they were too strong for me, their coils wrapped around me, restricting my movement, and then I too, met my end. Since I was devoured, I have not been buried and therefore cannot cross the Styx. I have heard of my role, however unwilling, in the fall of Troy, how the people believed my death was a sign that the horse was good, and should not be harmed. I heard how they brought it inside the gates, and during the night the Greeks attacked and sacked my own Dardan city. How bitterly I think of myself now! I would say that I deserve to stay here forever, yearning to cross that fateful river! But the longing to reach and enter into the Elysian Fields, oh, the longing is too great!