In Book II of Virgil’s epic poem “The Aeneid,” one of the most iconic plotlines of classical mythology unfolds with trickery and subterfuge. The Greek forces, having failed to capture the City of Troy after a decade-long siege, attempt an ultimate attack on their enemy not by strength, but by guile, through a clever plan hatched by Ulysses.
In the fields outside of Troy’s impregnable walls, the Greek army departs, but leaves behind a massive wooden horse. A lone remaining soldier leads the Trojans to believe that the horse is a tribute to Minerva, the goddess of war and strategy, and is an apology for the blood that the Greeks spilled. The Trojans think their rival has sailed off in surrender, and — despite warnings from Cassandra and Laocoön, who gives us the famous saying “beware of Greeks bearing gifts” — they bring the horse into the city as a trophy of victory. Blinded by zeal, they think it will make them invincible.