The Trojan Horse (Grade 5)
The Trojan Horse
We can easily believe then that Priam, King of Troy, and his people were very glad to hear that one day the Greeks had gone home. Two Trojans, who had left the city two weeks or so before on a message from King Priam to one of his allies, came back saying that they had gone to the camp of the Greeks and had found it empty, and that there were no ships to be seen. Every one who was not ill or too old to move about made all the haste they could to get out of the city. The gates were opened wide for the first time during ten years, and men, women, and children hurried out to see the plain where so many battles had been fought, and the camp in which the enemy had lived, and the place where the ships had been dragged up on the shore. As you may suppose, those who had fought in the battles had a great deal to say about what they had done and what they had seen. There were many things to see, but the strangest one of all was a great Horse of Wood, which was standing not far from the walls of the city. No one was quite sure what it was, or what it meant. One man said: "It is a very curious thing. Let us drag it into the city that it may be a monument of all that we have suffered for the last ten years." Others said: "Not so; we had better burn it, or drag it down to the sea that the water may cover it, or cut it open to see whether there is anything inside."
Of these no one was more vehement than Laocoön, priest of Neptune. "Take heed what you do, men of Troy," he cried. "Who knows whether the Greeks have really gone away? It may be that there are armed men inside this Horse; it may be that it has been made so big to overtop the walls of the city. Anyhow I am afraid of these Greeks, even when they give us gifts." And as he spoke, he threw the spear which he had in his hand at the Horse of Wood, and struck it on the side. A great rattling sound was heard, and the Trojans, if they had not been very blind and foolish, might have known that there was something wrong.
While the dispute was going on, some shepherds came up, bringing with them a man whose hands were bound behind his back. He had come out from a hiding-place, they said, of his own accord, when they were in the field. The young Trojans crowded round him, and began to mock at him, but he cried out in a very piteous voice: "What shall I do? where shall I go? the Greeks will not let me live, and the Trojans cry out for vengeance upon me." Then they began to pity him, and they bade him say who he was and what he had to tell.
Then the man turned to King Priam, and said: "I will speak the truth, whatever may happen to me. My name is Sinon, and I will not deny that I am a Greek. Perhaps you have heard of one Palamedes. The Greeks put him to death, saying that he was a traitor; but his only fault was that he wanted to have peace. Yes, they put him to death, and now that he is dead, they are sorry. I was a cousin of his, and my father sent me with him to Troy. So long as he prospered, I prospered also; but when he was done to death by the false witness of Ulysses, I fell into great grief and trouble, nor could I be silent; I swore that if ever I got back to Argos, I would have revenge on those who had brought him to his death."
Then King Priam had pity on him and bade them unbind his hands, saying: "Forget your own people; from to-day you are one of us. But tell us now, why did the Greeks make this great Horse of Wood that we see?"
Then Sinon lifted up his hands to the sky and said: "O sun and moon and stars, I call you to witness that I have a good right to tell the secrets of my countrymen. Listen, O King. From the beginning, when the Greeks first came to this place, their hope has been in the help of Minerva. But she was angry with them for this cause. Ulysses and Diomed made their way into your city, and climbed into the citadel, and killed the guards. And then with hands all bloody from the slaughter, they laid hold of her image and carried it away. It was this that made the goddess angry, that they should dare to touch her with hands stained with blood. I saw with my own eyes how the eyes of the image, when these two brought it into the camp, flashed with anger, and how the drops of sweat stood upon it; yes, and how it leapt three times from the ground, shaking shield and spear. Then the prophet said: 'You must go back to Greece, and come again, and begin the war again, if you wish to take the city of Troy'—and this they are doing now; they have gone back to Greece, and they will soon return. Furthermore, he said: 'You must make a Horse of Wood to be a peace-offering to Minerva. Make it, I advise you, very great, so that the Trojans may not take it within their walls. For, if they do so take it, then you will never conquer their city. Nay, they will come to our own land, and lay siege to our cities, and our children will suffer the things which we have sought to bring on them. But if they hurt the thing, then they themselves shall perish.' "
This was the tale that Sinon told, and the Trojans believed it. Nor is this to be wondered at, because the gods themselves took part in deceiving them. For while Laocoön, the priest of Neptune, the same that had thrown his spear at the Horse, was sacrificing a bull on the altar of his god, two great serpents came across the sea from a certain island that was near.
Then they all cried out together that the Horse of Wood should be drawn into the citadel. So they opened the great gate of the city, pulling down part of the wall that there might be more room, and they put rollers under the feet of the Horse, and they fastened ropes to it. Then they drew it into the city, boys and girls laying hold of the ropes, and singing songs with great joy. And every one thought it a great thing if he could put his hand to a rope. But there were not wanting signs of evil to come. Four times did the Horse halt as they dragged it, before it passed through the gate, and each time there might have been heard a great clashing of arms within. Also Cassandra opened her mouth, and prophesied the fate of the city; but no one took any heed of her words, for it was her doom that she should speak the truth and not be believed. So the Trojans drew the Horse of Wood into the city. That night they kept a feast to the gods with great joy, not knowing that the end of their city was now close at hand.
- The Trojans were given a peace offering by the Greeks and brought it into their city.
- The Trojans were blind and did not see that the peace offering was going to harm their city.
- The Trojans had fought long and hard and were finally glad that the war was over.
- The Trojans had been in the middle of a long and difficult war against the Greeks.
- There had been a time when the Trojans had gone out and fought with their enemies on the plain, sometimes they had beaten them in battle, and once they had very nearly burnt their ships.
- We can easily believe then that Priam, King of Troy, and his people were very glad to hear that one day the Greeks had gone home.
- A great rattling sound was heard, and the Trojans, if they had not been very blind and foolish, might have known that there was something wrong.
- 'You must make a Horse of Wood to be a peace-offering to Minerva. Make it, I advise you, very great, so that the Trojans may not take it within their walls.
- For while Laocoön, the priest of Neptune, the same that had thrown his spear at the Horse, was sacrificing a bull on the altar of his god, two great serpents came across the sea from a certain island that was near.
- That night they kept a feast to the gods with great joy, not knowing that the end of their city was now close at hand.
- The author describes how the Trojans felt about the gift.
- The author points out instances in which the Trojans should have known the gift was a trick.
- The author explains what happens after the horse was brought into the city.
- The author shares the point of view of the Greeks while making the horse.
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The Greeks besieged the city of Troy for nearly ten years.
What does the word besieged mean as it is used in the sentence?
- They could not take it because the walls were so high and strong
- but they kept the Trojans inside.
- There had been a time when the Trojans had gone out and fought with their enemies on the plain
- sometimes they had beaten them in battle