To Make a Wooden Horse

Ioannis Doukas, NUI Galway
In my paper, I focus on the Wooden Horse tradition, whose earliest known narrative representations were included in two poems of the Epic Cycle, the Little Iliad and the Sack of Troy, attributed respectively, in the majority of sources, to Lesches and Arctinus and presumably dated to the archaic period. [1]
I specifically examine those passages which provide information relevant to the circumstances of its conception and describe the process of its construction. Starting from what we can deduce regarding the related content of the non-extant poems, I discuss literary and material sources from Homer up to the Imperial Period, with a particular emphasis on two late Greek epic poems, the Posthomerica by Quintus of Smyrna and the Fall of Troy by Triphiodorus, which include lengthy treatments of this part of the plot.
The ploy of the Horse was not included in the narrative time of the Homeric poems, as it belongs to the space in-between, after the completion of the Iliad and before the beginning of the Odyssey. Yet, it appears that the ploy of the Horse had already been a well-established part of the tradition. It has been suggested that covert “proleptic allusions” to it can be found in the Iliad, either in how Odysseus is described or in a series of hints towards the end of the poem. [2]
During the narrative time of the Odyssey, [3] the story reasonably belongs to the realm of memory past. When Telemachus is visiting Sparta, in order to collect information about his father’s whereabouts, Menelaus mentions the moment when the best of the Achaeans were hidden inside the Horse. The epithet used is ξεστός (4.272). It refers to “timber or objects made of it”, with the meaning of “shaved, planed” wood (LSJ s.v.), which specifies its nature as a product of handiwork.
Menelaus’ narrative covers an episode set when the Trojans had already taken the Horse within the city walls (4.271–289). [4] In it, Helen, accompanied by Deiphobus, her husband after the death of Paris, [5] visits the Horse, feels its surface and goes about it. [6] Naming it κοῖλον λόχον (4.277), Menelaus emphasises its hollowness and introduces a recurring implicit wordplay, based on the semantic ambiguity of the word λόχος (LSJ s.v. I ‘an ambush’, II ‘childbirth’). [7]
At a later stage of the Odyssey, set at the court of Alcinous, the Horse is mentioned again. Odysseus, his true identity concealed for the moment, asks the bard Demodocus to sing the story about it (8.492–495). [8] In this instance, it becomes obvious that within the narrative world of the Odyssey, this story has already been incorporated into what would, in the context of Homeric performance and audience, have been already long integrated into archaic common knowledge and to the rhapsodic repertoire. [9]
As regards our subject-matter, the information provided identifies the builder of the Horse, Epeus, “the craftsman of the Greeks” (τέκτων Scholia V), introduces the element of divine patronage, Athene’s (8.493), [10] and also distinguishes between the preparation of the scheme and its execution (Scholia T ad Odysseam 8.494):

τὸ μὲν γὰρ κατασκεύασμα, ὁ ἵππος, Ἐπειοῦ καὶ Ἀθηνᾶς ἦν, τὰ δὲ ἐγχειρήματα Ὀδυσσέως· οὗτος γὰρ ὁ προτρεψάμενος ἐμβῆναι τοὺς Ἀχαιούς.
Apart from generic terms referring to its material and size, that it is made of wood (δουρατέος 8.493, 512) and great or big (8.512 μέγας), as well as its hollowness (κοῖλον λόχον at 8.515 as in 4.277), no actual description of the Horse is included in either Odysseus’ address to Demodocus or the latter’s indirectly rendered song.
Despite the reasonable lack of detail, the Homeric version of the narrative already acquaints us with the principal elements regarding the construction of the Horse: its maker, Epeus, Odysseus, who conceived it, and Athene, who provided her patronage (as in Quintus 12.104–121, 148–156 and Triphiodorus 57–61), that it was hollow, made of wood (Quintus 12.122–129, Triphiodorus 57–61) and that the timber used was processed (Quintus 12.130–138).
To reconstruct the information provided in the Epic Cycle, we are dependent on later and indirect sources. In accordance with the Odyssey, the Chrestomathy of Proclus attributes the construction of the Horse to Epeus, who is following the will of Athene (Bernabé, Argumentum 1, p. 74):

καὶ Ἐπειὸς κατ’ Ἀθηνᾶς προαίρεσιν τὸν δούρειον ἵππον κατασκευάζει
Epeios, following an initiative of Athena’s (…) constructs the wooden horse. [11]
Apollodorus, on the other hand, names Odysseus as the one who conceived the whole plot (Bernabé, Fr. 8): [12]

ὕστερον δὲ ἐπινοεῖ δουρείου ἵππου κατασκευὴν καὶ ὑποτίθεται Ἐπειῷ, ὃς ἦν ἀρχιτέκτων: οὗτος ἀπὸ τῆς Ἴδης ξύλα τεμὼν ἵππον κατασκευάζει κοῖλον ἔνδοθεν εἰς τὰς πλευρὰς ἀνεῳγμένον
But afterwards he (sc. Odysseus) invented the construction of the Wooden Horse and suggested it to Epeus, who was architect. Epeus felled timber on Ida, and constructed the horse with a hollow interior and an opening in the sides. [13]
In his corresponding comments, West notes and discusses the logical incongruity raised by the fact that Epeus is assigned such an “extraordinary accomplishment”, but “appears otherwise as a lowly and ineffectual figure”. According to his opinion, this can be reconciled in the tradition and become plausible, if we consider Epeus responsible only for the handiwork and emphasise, instead, on Athene’s divine agency and Odysseus’ general management of and public lobbying for the project (2013:193–195).
The Little Iliad ends on the feast that the Trojans are holding after they have brought the Horse within the city. Overlapping with it, the Sack of Troy begins at a slightly earlier stage, during the Trojan debate on how they are going to deal with the Horse, and then features the same feast. [14]
According to later Latin sources, scholia in Virgil’s Aeneid 2.15, dated to the 4th and 5th century CE, the Sack of Troy actually provided details on the Horse’s dimensions (Ilii Excidium Bernabé, Fr. 2):

(I) Schol. Monac. in Verg. Aen. 2,15 Arctinus dicit fuisse (sc. equum Troianum) in longitudine pedes C et in latitudine pedes L. eius autem caudam et genua mobilia fuisse traditit (…) (III) Servius in Aen. 2,150 hunc tamen equum (sc. Troianum) quidam longum centum viginti <pedes>, latum triginta fuisse tradunt, cuius cauda, genua, oculi moverentur.
Arctinus says it was 100 feet long and 50 feet wide, and that its tail and knees could move. (…) Some record that this horse was 120 feet long and 30 wide, and that its tail, knees, and eyes could move. [15]
In West’s opinion, these “amusing details”, in their unrealistic measurements and lack of practical purpose, “served only as additional testimony to Epeus’ wonderful craftsmanship” (2013:228).
Another version of the Sack of Troy was written by Stesichorus. [16] A piece of information, included in the poem and specific to Epeus himself, is quoted in Athenaeus (10.456 = Fr. 200 Davies):

ἀνακομίζοντος δ᾽ αὐτοῖς (sc. τοῖς χοροῖς τοῦ Σιμωνίδου) τὸ ὕδωρ ὄνου ὃν ἐκάλουν Ἐπειὸν διὰ τὸ μυθολογεῖσθαι τοῦτο δρᾶν ἐκεῖνον καὶ ἀναγεγράφθαι ἐν τῷ τοῦ Ἀπόλλωνος ἱερῷ τὸν Τρωικὸν μῦθον, ἐν ᾧ ὁ Ἐπειὸς ὑδροφορεῖ τοῖς Ἀτρείδαις, ὡς καὶ Στησίχορός φησιν·
ᾤκτειρε γὰρ αὐτὸν ὕδωρ
αἰεὶ φορέοντα Διὸς κούρα βασιλεῦσιν
A donkey brought their water up for them, and they called it Epeius, because legend had it that Epeius used to do this, and because there was a painting in Apollo’s temple depicting the story of the Trojan War, in which he could be seen fetching water for the Atreidae, as Stesichorus says:
For the daughter of Zeus
pitied him, since he was always carrying water for the kings. [17]
According to Olson (2009:191n278), it is possible that Stesichorus “used the phrase ‘carrying water’ figuratively, to mean ‘working for in a subordinate position’”. [18] In either case, it seems that Epeus played an upgraded role in the Stesichorean version, which might have even eclipsed the involvement of Odysseus. [19]
Set in the aftermath of the Trojan War, like the Odyssey, but at a narrative point immediately subsequent to the conquest, when victors and defeated captives have not yet departed from Troy, the Trojan Women by Euripides offer a different viewpoint on the story of the Horse.
Already at the Prologue, Poseidon mentions the ploy and some of its parameters (Trojan Women 9–14):

ὁ γὰρ Παρνάσιος
Φωκεὺς Ἐπειὸς μηχαναῖσι Παλλάδος
ἐγκύμον’ ἵππον τευχέων συναρμόσας
πύργων ἔπεμψεν ἐντός, ὀλέθριον βρέτας.
[ὅθεν πρὸς ἀνδρῶν ὑστέρων κεκλήσεται
δούρειος ἵππος, κρυπτὸν ἀμπισχὼν δόρυ.]
Epeius, the Phocian from Parnassus, build a horse pregnant with weapons by the devising of Pallas Athena and sent inside the walls this image meant for ruin. [And therefore men of later times shall call it the Wooden Horse because it hid spears within its belly.] [20]
The god provides detailed specifications of Epeus’ local origins, which could be interpreted as a recognition of the hero’s gradually elevated status. He is presented to execute a scheme designed by Athene, while Odysseus’ involvement, if any, goes unmentioned. The Horse is “pregnant with weapons”, the spears hidden inside, which supposedly, in a form of etymological aetiology, will give it its name. [21]
Later, as the eponymous Chorus of the captives sings the narrative lament and funeral dirge for the fall of the city (511–576), the visual representation of the Horse plays a prominent role, achieved through a combination of epithets, metonymies and metaphors (515–521, 525, 534 and 538–539):

νῦν γὰρ μέλος ἐς Τροίαν ἰαχήσω,
τετραβάμονος ὡς ὑπ’ ἀπήνας
Ἀργείων ὀλόμαν τάλαινα δοριάλωτος,
ὅτ’ ἔλιπον ἵππον οὐράνια
βρέμοντα χρυσεοφάλαρον ἔνο-
πλον ἐν πύλαις Ἀχαιοί·

For now I shall sing a song of Troy,
how that Argive conveyance with four feet
wrought my destruction and wretched enslavement,
when the horse, reaching high heaven
with its clatter, decked with gold cheekpieces,
arms within, was left at the gates by the Achaeans. [22]

τόδ’ ἱερὸν ἀνάγετε ξόανον

bring this holy statue [23]

πεύκαν οὐρεΐαν, ξεστὸν λόχον Ἀργείων,

this mountain pinewood, Greek ambush the adze had smoothed [24]

σκάφος κελαινὸν

the dark hull of a ship [25]

In the “deliberately vague” original Greek, aiming to “replicat[e] the initial impression of something strange and equivocal” (Burian 2009:89), the epithet τετραβάμονος (516) blurs the lines between a tetrapod animal and a four-wheeled vehicle and “creates a sense of paradox” (Kovacs 2018:210). [26]
There follows a succession of a participle and two adjectives (520–521), which touches upon both the readily perceptible and the hidden aspects of the Horse – it focuses on the visual and sonic impression that it makes, but also on what it actually contains. Βρέμοντα refers to the noise of its movement and comes with the negative connotations of an imminent threat, [27] which we suggest had been retrospectively attributed to it, based on its outcome and consequences. Χρυσεοφάλαρον is “unique in Greek poetry though used in later prose” (Kovacs 2018:210) and defines the material from which the bosses used to adorn its head-gear had been made – gold’s proverbial value, rarity and radiance are all at work here. Finally, the Horse is ἔνοπλον, as its content is men bearing arms.
It is perceived by the Trojans as a “holy statue” (525), which is not unrelated to the divine patronage for its construction and its dedication to that same goddess, Athene, who devised it, although “the word normally applies to a statue of a god” and not to “an image presented to the god” (Kovacs 2018:211). Ξόανον is also indicative for the material, as it particularly refers to wood. This is again emphasised at 534, where all the stages of the making are evoked: the Horse is metonymically called “mountain pinewood” after the timber used and the adjective ξεστόν implies the process of woodcraft.
Finally, the Horse is likened to a dark ship (539), which has a two-fold significance: on the one hand, it associates it with the group of literary similes related to human technology, of which the most frequent draws on the imagery of shipbuilding [28] and will become particularly relevant in our close reading of Triphiodorus (see below). Additionally, the adjective κελαινόν usually comes with ominous undercurrents, as it is, for instance, the colour of blood running from a wound.
In short, Euripides’ condensed version, the earliest directly accessible to us in full, contains information on the Horse’s conception and construction, and provides verbal details that facilitate its visualisation as an object and an artefact.
The Horse is also mentioned by Virgil, as part of Aeneas’ narration to Dido in Aeneid 2 about the fall of Troy. [29] However, his perspective, of the besieged, defeated Trojan, victim of the ploy, means that his account bypasses the possibility of particular insights on the Horse’s manner of construction; reasonably, his recounting focuses instead on Trojan reactions, with the exception of a few lines in the very beginning (2.13–16):

fracti bello fatisque repulsi
ductores Danaum tot iam labentibus annis
instar montis equum diuina Palladis arte
aedificant, sectaque intexunt abiete costas;
Broken by war and rejected by the fates, the leaders of the Danaans, as so many years had now slipped away, build a Horse, the size of a mountain—the craft is the goddess Pallas’s—and weave cut fir into her sides. [30]
What we learn here is that the Horse was built by the leaders of the Danaans, who were assisted in this endeavour by the divine craft of Athene. We also receive information on the Horse’s size and material: it is huge, mountain-sized, and its sides are made out of fir tree wood.
Additionally, it is mentioned that (2.18–20):

huc delecta uirum sortiti corpora furtim
includunt caeco lateri penitusque cauernas
ingentis uterumque armato milite complent.
Into her, they insert secretly, into her impenetrable sides, having taken lots, well-chosen, bulky heroes and inside they fill her vast spaces and womb with armed warriors. [31]
The vastness of the hollow horse is indicated by the emphatic repetition of terms related to its body: its sides, the enclosed cavity, and the “womb” (lateri … cavernas/ ingentis uterumque; Horsfall 2008:62–64).
However, a series of questions are raised from the text’s perceived ambiguities and inconsistencies. It is unclear, as Horsfall notes, whether the impression that the Horse’s size leaves is Aeneas’ or of the Greeks who have constructed it or both (Horsfall 2008:59). Additionally, the phrasing divina arte could refer either to “the art of divinely-favoured carpentry, or the cunning of the goddess herself”, a question that, when set, has remained unanswered since antiquity (Horsfall 2008:59–60). Yet, if these remain open, our understanding of the passage is not actually undermined.
Another issue is the presumably indiscriminate mention of different kinds of timber throughout this section. Apart from the fir, maple, oak, and pine are also attested (2.112–113, 186, 230 and 258–259):

cum iam hic trabibus contextus acernis
staret equus,

when the Horse, constructed of beams of maple, already stood here

roboribus textis

of interwoven timbers

sacrum … robur

sacred oak

pinea …/ claustra

the bars of pine [32]

This could be solved if we consider, instead, that it consists of a deliberate diversity, meaning that a variety of local wood had been used for the construction of the Horse, [33] possibly each one for a separate part, and of which fir is mentioned first, supposedly being the more warlike (Horsfall 2008:61).
The verbs used to describe the building process, aedificare and intexere (2.16), refer respectively to the whole undertaking and to a complex and detailed part of it. Both are applied to a variety of manual work contexts, especially those related to carpentry and naval architecture. [34]
The parts of the Horse identified are the sides (2.16 costas), understood to refer to the flanks, the ribcage or any kind of abdominal framework (Horsfall 2008:61), and the bars unfastened to open it up (2.259 claustra). Additionally, as the narrative unfolds, and the Trojans interact with the wooden structure, more visual information becomes available, along with words marking and defining it. For instance, as Laocoon attempts to warn his fellow countrymen, he says that (2.45–46):

aut hoc inclusi ligno occultantur Achiui,
aut haec in nostros fabricata est machina muros,
Either the Achaeans are hidden, shut away inside this wooden thing, or it is an engine constructed against our walls. [35]
The noun lignum (2.45) vaguely refers to an object of wood, commonly used within a synecdoche, as the material mentioned instead of the thing made. This phrasing undermines the perceived sanctity of the Horse, which is also understood as a kind of siege engine (2.46 fabricata … machina). [36]
When he throws a spear against it, it hits (2.51):

in latus inque feri curuam compagibus aluum

into the Horse’s side and into the rounded framework of its belly. [37]

The phrasing recalls once more that we are dealing with an ornate handicraft. The need to comprehend it, go beyond the visible façade and understand its background is what triggers Priam’s repeated questions to Sinon, an Achaean pretended deserter, crucial to the plot (2.150–1):

quo molem hanc immanis equi statuere? quis auctor?
quidue petunt? quae religio? aut quae machina belli?”
For what did they set up this monstrous, bulky horse? Who had the idea? What do they want? What religious image is it? What engine of war?” [38]
The questions touch upon the size of the Horse, the originator of the concept, its purpose and its possible religious and military connotations. [39] Sinon’s deceitful answer introduces Calchas: he had supposedly pronounced to the Greeks that, after stealing the Palladium from Troy, [40] they would not be able to conquer Troy unless they returned to Greece with the statue and, in order to expiate themselves for the sacrilege, built a horse in its place, one that would be big enough so that the Trojans could not take it into the city, as divine protection, unless they tore down the walls by themselves (2.176–194).
The Trojans are convinced and in goes the Horse (2.237–238, 245),

fatalis machina …/ feta armis

Destiny’s engine, pregnant with weapons [41]

monstrum infelix

the unhappy monster [42]

Both phrasings are significant. At 2.237 we witness the third repetition of the noun machina, which evokes the idea of the siege engine. Along with the adjective fatalis, it can be read as either the fatal and deadly war machine or the thing that sets the machinations of fate in motion. Virgil also revisits the familiar metaphor of the pregnant horse (2.238). Finally, ambiguity is at play at 2.245, where the monstrum infelix can be understood as an omen of unhappiness, an object of fear-provoking size or, even, as an infertile, barren beast, in opposition to its pregnancy mentioned just before and in the sense that it has nothing to bear but destruction for Troy. [43]
Finally, when providing a catalogue of the heroes aboard the Horse (2.261–264), Virgil includes Odysseus (2.261 dirus Vlixes), but does not accredit him with the ploy’s conception. Epeus, on the other hand, is named last, identified as the builder of the Horse (2.264):

et ipse doli fabricator Epeos.

and the architect of the trick himself, Epeius. [44]

A discussion of the traditions regarding the Wooden Horse would be incomplete if we failed to mention the artistic and material representations of the story.
One of the earliest known is a relief pithos found on the Cycladic island of Mykonos in 1961 and dated at ca. 675 BCE. [45] As it is illustrating the fall of Troy and the ensuing massacre, it obviously belongs to a stage in the narrative later than the construction itself.
A panel on its neck depicts the Horse with wheels added to its hooves. When discussing another of its representations, a poorly preserved Boeotian fibula, [46] in which the wheels are also discernible, Giuliani notes that their “primary function” is “to signal immediately and unambiguously the artificial character of the figure and to rule out the possibility of confusing it with a living horse” (2013:56). [47]
The wheels are a significant feature of the pithos. Their rims “are represented by a series of curved stamps”, while their “axles, hardly central, are placed to one side of the hoof in order to show” (Ervin 1963:45). As seen above, they are noteworthy enough, as part of the whole mechanism, to be mentioned in Euripides with the adjective τετραβάμονος (Trojan Women 516). Quintus also makes use of them, as he describes the transportation of the Horse towards Troy (12.424–428):

                    ἐπεί ῥά οἱ ἐσθλὸς Ἐπειὸς
ποσσὶν ὑπὸ βριαροῖσιν ἐύτροχα δούρατ᾽ ἔθηκεν,
ὄφρά κεν αἰζηοῖσιν ἐπὶ πτολίεθρον ἕπηται
ἑλκόμενος Τρώων ὑπὸ χείρεσιν.

                    seeing that worthy Epeios
Had fitted its massive feet with smooth-running wooden wheels,
So that with human propulsion it could enter the city,
When pulled by the hands of the Trojans. [48]

The phrasing ἐύτροχα δούρατα (12.425), however, is an ambiguous expression which could either signify “a platform furnished with wheels, or a board furnished with rollers” (Campbell 1981:147–148). However, both visual representations and literary precedents and parallels, especially Triphiodorus, who includes the fitting of the wheels to the construction itself (99–102), allow us to consider, in all probability, that Quintus’ passage refers to wheels as well.
The Horse remained a recurring theme in art, [49] as in Polygnotus’ painting of the fall of Troy, seen by Pausanias at Delphi and described in detail (10.26.2):

γέγραπται δὲ καὶ Ἐπειὸς γυμνὸς καταβάλλων ἐς ἔδαφος τῶν Τρώων τὸ τεῖχος· ἀνέχει δὲ ὑπὲρ αὐτὸ κεφαλὴ τοῦ ἵππου μόνη τοῦ δουρείου.
Epeius is painted naked; he is razing to the ground the Trojan wall. Above the wall rises the head only of the Wooden Horse. [50]
It came with powerful connotations, as in the case of the bronze statue that an Athenian, Chairedemus, dedicated on the Acropolis at 420 BCE. [51] Pausanias also saw it and commented on it (1.23.8):

ἵππος δὲ ὁ καλούμενος Δούριος ἀνάκειται χαλκοῦς. καὶ ὅτι μὲν τὸ ποίημα τὸ <Ἐπειοῦ> μηχάνημα ἦν ἐς διάλυσιν τοῦ τείχους, οἶδεν ὅστις μὴ πᾶσαν ἐπιφέρει τοῖς Φρυξὶν εὐήθειαν· λέγεται δὲ ἔς τε ἐκεῖνον τὸν ἵππον ὡς τῶν Ἑλλήνων ἔνδον ἔχοι τοὺς ἀρίστους, καὶ δὴ καὶ τοῦ χαλκοῦ τὸ σχῆμά ἐστι κατὰ ταῦτα· καὶ Μενεσθεὺς καὶ Τεῦκρος ὑπερκύπτουσιν ἐξ αὐτοῦ, προσέτι δὲ καὶ οἱ παῖδες οἱ Θησέως.
There is the horse called Wooden set up in bronze. That the work of Epeius was a contrivance to make a breach in the Trojan wall is known to everybody who does not attribute silliness to the Phrygians. But legend says of that horse that it contained the most valiant of the Greeks, and the design of the bronze figure fits in well with this story. Menestheus and Teucer are peeping out of it, and so are the sons of Theseus. [52]
In this instance, he states that he adheres to the rationalising approach that the Horse was actually a siege engine. Nevertheless, he also alludes to the Homeric version of the story, that it was manned by the best of the Achaeans. Of those, it appears, the statue only depicted local heroes, Menestheus, the leader of the Athenian contingent at Troy, Teucer, son of Telamon, from the nearby island of Salamis, and the two (unnamed here) sons of Theseus. It could, then, be considered even a case of cultural appropriation, the Athenians being singled out and awarding themselves a leading role in a story which, since Homer, was casting them in a marginal one. [53] This “invented tradition” [54] served to boost a sense of pride in local identity and to write the classical polis into the narrative of the heroic, mythical past.
In some instances, this process was taking the form of a concrete realisation in the form of relics, as in the case of Metapontum in a Pseudo-Aristotelian collection of marvels [55] (De Mirabilibus Auscultationibus 840a.27–35):

Περὶ δὲ τὴν Ἰταλίαν τὴν καλουμένην Γαργαρίαν, ἐγγὺς Μεταποντίου, Ἀθηνᾶς ἱερὸν εἶναί φασιν, ἔνθα τὰ τοῦ Ἐπειοῦ λέγουσιν ἀνακεῖσθαι ὄργανα, ἃ εἰς τὸν δούρειον ἵππον ἐποίησεν. φανταζομένην γὰρ αὐτῷ τὴν Ἀθηνᾶν κατὰ τὸν ὕπνον ἀξιοῦν ἀναθεῖναι τὰ ὄργανα, καὶ διὰ τοῦτο βραδυτέρας τυγχάνοντα τῆς ἀναγωγῆς εἱλεῖσθαι ἐν τῷ τόπῳ, μὴ δυνάμενον ἐκπλεῦσαι.
In Italy in the district called Gargaria, near Metapontum, they say that there is a temple of the Hellenian Athene, where the tools of Epeius are dedicated, which he made for the wooden horse. For they say that Athene appeared to him in a dream, and demanded that he should dedicate the tools to her, and that, having delayed his setting out on this account, he was shut up in the place and unable to set out. [56]
This story, presumably derived from traditions linked to the Cyclic Nostoi, the Achaean homecomings after the Trojan War, presents Epeus as the founder of a colony, which adopted as its origin myth the dedication of the tools used for the construction of the Horse. [57] The narrative is structured around familiar motifs, like the adverse weather conditions inhibiting a maritime journey and the appearance of Athene in a dream. [58] The tools dedicated can be understood as a functional integration of the mythical narrative into the religious practices and everyday life of the colony. [59] The object becomes a totem, the emblem of the tribe, and through the special relationship with it, a public identity is constructed, along with an internalised and inherited psychological disposition: the myth becomes their own. [60]
Finally, we turn our attention to the Tabulae Iliacae, a set of miniature stone plaques, carved in relief and inscribed in Greek. Dated at the Imperial age, from the early first century CE, they represent episodes from the epic tradition and, despite their name, not all of them are associated with the Iliad or other poems set at Troy. [61] Of these, we are specifically interested in the Tabula Iliaca Capitolina (1Α), [62] which features scenes from the fall of Troy and lists Stesichorus [63] and the Little Iliad among its sources.
The Horse is depicted twice: in the lower frieze and in a scene drawn from the Little Iliad, it is led up into the city by a procession of Trojan women and Phrygians, who have presumably tied it and pull it with ropes. One of the figures, arms raised, seems to be instigating the rest, while another one, towards the end of the procession, gives the impression of dancing. [64] In the central panel and later in narrative time, identified on the carving’s caption as coming from Stesichorus “a figure leans a ladder against the body of the Wooden Horse” and another one can be traced to emerge from it (Petrain 2014:201). [65]
In both cases, the Horse is labelled accordingly: Δούρηος Ἵππος. In Petrain’s reading of the tabula, “such a recognizable element” would not require identification, so he argues that these inscriptions “may serve an indexical function”, to provide continuity and “imply that the horse is an entry point not just for the marauding Greeks but for viewers as well, from which they might begin examining the panorama of Troy’s fall” (2014:128). Furthermore, if we trust Squire’s interpretation, Theodorus, the artist responsible for the Capitoline table, alludes to and adopts as “an artistic and a literary paradigm” both Epeus, the craftsman of the Horse, and Stesichorus, the poet who described Epeus’ craftsmanship (2010:72–74).
Although we do not acquire from the Tabulae any information regarding the construction of the Horse, they do bear a particular significance as we consider how these mythical narratives were understood, remade, and recreated in Imperial times. The Tabulae, as Squire has noted, “pitch visual against verbal forms of representation” (2010:68). In a sense, when Triphiodorus and Quintus meticulously describe how the Horse was built and how it looked, they are doing the exact opposite and they might as well be drawing from the visual culture of their era.
Up to this point, I have been reconstructing, in their chronological succession, the sources presumably available to Quintus and Triphiodorus, in order to simulate their viewpoint on antecedents with the same or similar plot, taking into consideration the inevitable constraint of what is actually available to us. By displaying the scarcity of information on the building process itself, I have shown that they both had an open ground in treating it.
In the case of Quintus, it is already foretold by Calchas (12.8–20) that it is impossible for the Achaeans to capture Troy by force and should instead focus on some “trick or stratagem” (James 2004:189; 12.20 δόλος καὶ μῆτις). Later on, this is illustrated in all its details by Odysseus (12.80–3):

Κάλχαντος βουλῇσι θοὰς ἐπὶ νῆας ἰόντες
ἵππον τεκταίνωμεν ὑπαὶ παλάμῃσιν Ἐπειοῦ
ὅς ῥά τε πολλὸν ἄριστος ἐν Ἀργείοισι τέτυκται
εἵνεκα τεκτοσύνης, δέδαεν δέ μιν ἔργον Ἀθήνη.

As Kalchas advises, let us return to our swift ships
And there construct a horse by means of Epeios’ hands,
The man who is by far the best of all the Argives
In carpentry, whose skill was taught to him by Athena. [66]

By determining the stratagem’s nature, the builder’s identity and the divine source of his competence, the scene is set for Athene’s nightly visitation at 12.104–121, which introduces the passage detailing the construction.
Focusing on the character of Epeus, we note the epithet ἀρηιφίλου, “warlike” (12.109), attributed to him. This is an adjective attested in the Iliad (25x), in most cases used to define Menelaus. We would be inclined to consider the application of an adjective denoting military prowess to a hero predominantly associated with handicraft and similar endeavours surprising and uncharacteristic, even more so, if we take QS 4.327–328 into consideration:

πολέμου δ᾽ οὐ πάγχυ δαήμων
ἔπλετο λευγαλέου, ὁπότ᾽ Ἄρεος ἔσσυτο δῆρις.

though he had no skill at all
In the deadly fighting set in motion by the war god. [67]

If we follow Campbell’s interpretation on this point, this is related with Epeus’ upgraded role in the episode and his quintessential contribution to the war effort, albeit without his own military skills. Campbell also presumes that this must have been “his original role in the saga”; [68] as we have seen above, this probably applies to Stesichorus and Euripides, who deviate from the Homeric tradition, judging from the fact that they leave unmentioned Odysseus’ role in the ploy, probably conforming at that with the Epic Cycle.
The verb form used for the act of construction is the aorist infinitive τεῦξαι (12.110). We take note of its occurrence in Pindar (O. 8.32–36):

τὸν παῖς ὁ Λατοῦς εὐρυμέδων τε Ποσειδάν,
Ἰλίῳ μέλλοντες ἐπὶ στέφανον τεῦ-
ξαι, καλέσαντο συνεργόν
τείχεος, ἦν ὅτι νιν πεπρωμένον
ὀρνυμένων πολέμων
πτολιπόρθοις ἐν μάχαις
λάβρον ἀμπνεῦσαι καπνόν.

whom Leto’s son and wide-ruling Poseidon,
as they were preparing to crown Ilion with battlements,
summoned to help build
the wall, because the city was destined
at the outbreak of wars
in city-sacking battles
to breathe forth ravening smoke. [69]

Not only does the passage refer to the walls of Troy and the circumstances of their making, but it also connects the fortification’s foundation with its siege and destruction. In his presumably original narrative, [70] Pindar has Apollo and Poseidon enlist the help of Aeacus with building the walls, so that the part made by him, as a mortal, would be vulnerable to attack, eventuating the fall of the city. Furthermore, Apollo foretells that Troy will be taken by none other than the first and fourth generations of Aeacus’ own descendants (Ο. 8.42–46). Through their respective fathers, Achilles and Panopeus, and grandfathers, Peleus and Phocus, the latter generation consists of Neoptolemus and Epeus. [71]
The narrative context in Pindar, as well as the rarity of this word form, allow us to consider that τεῦξαι is pregnant with meaning. Its use by Quintus seems to acknowledge and mirror the fact that it has been already associated with both the construction and the destruction of the walls of Troy, involving members of the same family with a degree of divine patronage, as Apollo’s prophecy is fulfilled at the instigation of Athene.
As for the object about to be built, the phrasing used is δούριον ἵππον (12.110), repeated also at 14.106. Not attested in Homer, it is presumably traced back to the Epic Cycle (Campbell 1981:42), and its only extant hexameter occurrence, earlier than Quintus, is a satirical epigram on the addressee’s proverbially heavy horse ([Lucillius] AP 11.259.3–4):

ὄντως δούριον ἵππον, ὅν, εἰ Φρύγες εἷλκον ἅπαντες
σὺν Δαναοῖς, Σκαιὰς οὐκ ἂν ἐσῆλθε πύλας·
truly a wooden horse which would never have got through the Scaean gates, if all the Trojans and Greeks together had dragged it. [72]
As soon as Epeus wakes up, he conveys what has taken place and, at the orders of Agamemnon and Menelaus, men are sent out to cut timber (12.122–129). Throughout this section, the project is described as a collective endeavour of the whole army, under Epeus’s direction. The specific type of wood cut down and used is identified as silver fir: ἐλάτῃσιν (12.124). As mentioned above, what survives of the tradition is either silent or inconsistent regarding this detail. Euripides refers to pine (Trojan Women 534) and Virgil does mention fir (Aeneid 2.16), but among a variety of other types, as he describes a structure consisting of “interwoven timbers”.
This dative plural usually occurs against a maritime setting, either of travel or of fishing, where the word assumes the meaning of “oars” instead. [73] An additional use of this form is found in Homer, where two lesser Achaeans are described as they are being slain (Iliad 5.559–60):

τοίω τὼ χείρεσσιν ὑπ᾽ Αἰνείαο δαμέντε
καππεσέτην, ἐλάτῃσιν ἐοικότες ὑψηλῇσι.

Just so these two, overcome by the hands of Aineias,
crashed headlong, like a couple of tall felled fir trees. [74]

This is not the only instance adding a military undertone to the enterprise: as they complete the woodcutting phase, the Achaeans transport the timber back to the camp and start processing it (12.230–238). A variety of verbal types, used to signify their tools and actions, are occurring during battle scenes in earlier epic sources. Their axes (12.130, 137 πελέκεσσι) and saws (12.135 ὀκριόεντι σιδήρῳ) can also be understood as instruments of war, the toil and labour (12.133 πονέοντο, 12.138 πονευμένος) reapplied to the war effort.
The passage on the construction is relatively short, covering only ten lines of text (12.138–148), compared to the seventeen of the dream sequence and the sixteen on the preparation of materials. It follows the principle of an ordered description, as it presents Epeus starting from the legs, moving on to the belly of the horse, fitting onto it the back, hindquarters and throat and finally attaching the mane, the head, the tail, the eyes, the ears and, vaguely, everything else “with which a horse is adorned”.
One of the main attributes of the passage is the twice repeated expression of the artifact’s lifelikeness, once regarding the movement of the mane (12.142–143 ὡς ἐτεόν περ/ κινυμένην) and once for the whole structure (12.146 ὡς ἐτεὸν ζώοντος). This is a recurring and essential element of an ekphrastic text, already familiar from Homer. Divine intervention is equally important: the Horse is a holy work (12.145 ἱερὸν ἔργον), a superhuman structure and the craftsman’s skill is given to him as a gift by a god, Athene. As a result, everything is supernaturally completed in just three days, the only extant estimate of worktime as far as the Wooden Horse is concerned (12.147 τετέλεστο δ’ ἐνὶ τρισὶν ἤμασι πάντα).
The conclusion of the scene presents the reactions to the completed construction, reiterates its lifelikeness and features a prayer by the maker of the Horse, Epeus, to his patron, Athene.
In Triphiodorus, the scheme of the Trojan Horse is already mentioned in the proem and it is identified as the poem’s plot premise, along with its result, the conclusion of the war (1–2):

Τέρμα πολυκμήτοιο μεταχρόνιον πολέμοιο
καὶ λόχον Ἀργείης ἱππήλατον ἔργον Ἀθήνης,
On the long delayed end of the laborious war and of the ambush, even the horse fashioned of Argive Athena. [75]
The passage itself begins and concludes abruptly. I follow its division by Laura Miguélez-Cavero in her commentary of the poem (2013:156):

  • the introduction (57–61), where Epeus and Athene are identified as the makers of the horse, the materials are prepared and put in context within the mythical tradition,
  • the construction itself (62–102), containing a) the frame (62–66 lower part of the abdomen, neck and mane), b) the head (67–79 crest, eyes, teeth, hidden holes, ears), c) the completion of the body (80–89 upper half of the abdomen, tail, legs and feet, hooves) and d) the accessories (90–102 door and ladder, trappings, wheels), and
  • the conclusion (103–105), with a general impression of the completed structure and the reactions it provokes.
The five lines of the introduction (57–61) represent what covers a whole thirty-four in Quintus: the divine intervention and the preparation of materials (12.104–138).
Already on the first line (57), Epeus is identified as the maker of the Horse. This introduction, including a version of the etymological wordplay between the verb and the subject, reads as a variation of Od. 8.492–493:

ἀλλ’ ἄγε δὴ μετάβηθι καὶ ἵππου κόσμον ἄεισον
δουρατέου, τὸν Ἐπειὸς ἐποίησεν σὺν Ἀθήνῃ.
The whole text is in the third person singular: as Miguélez-Cavero notes, in Triphiodorus, “Epeius appears to be working on his own with Athena’s inspiration, whereas in the Posthomerica he directs the work of the army, with the horse presented as a collective enterprise” (2013:166).
Epeus is not acting alone or by his own will: he is the goddess’s servant of assistant (57 ὑποεργός), following her counsel (57 βουλῇσι). The Horse’s size is specified as gigantic, with an epithet, πελώριος (58), usually defining heroes, such as Ajax (Iliad 3.229), Hector (11.820) and Achilles (21.527), the armour and weapons they are carrying (for Rhesus at 10.439) or the Cyclops Polyphemus, the first time Odysseus and his companions lay eyes on him (Odyssey 9.187, 190).
The Horse is also an ἐχθρὸν ἄγαλμα (58), a noun also applied to it in the Odyssey (8.509), during the Trojan debate on how to react to it. Its meaning has evolved from its Homeric origins (LSJ s.v.: glory, delight, honour, pleasing gift, especially for the gods), to one particularly pertaining to ekphrasis (statue, image, portrait, picture).
Triphiodorus specifies the geographical provenance of timber, which is none other than Mount Ida, same as in Quintus, and explicitly connects the woodcutting which leads the war towards its conclusion with the one that triggered its beginning, as he mentions Phereclus by name and his role in the tradition. By adopting the term πήματος ἀρχήν (61), Triphiodorus alludes to Od. 8.81:

τότε γάρ ῥα κυλίνδετο πήματος ἀρχὴ

for the onset of evil was billowing. [76]

There, the same collocation occurs in the same sedes and in a narrative context referring to the beginnings of the Trojan War, as part of Demodocus’ indirectly rendered song. By doing so, Triphiodorus displays a high level of self-awareness, writing himself into the rhapsodic genealogy and, indeed, seems to understand his own poem as one belonging to a Trojan Cycle for Late Antiquity.
Having identified the creators of the Horse, the nature and provenance of the materials and the object of the description, and having placed them within the context of the mythical tradition they belong to, Triphiodorus proceeds to the description of the construction itself.
The forty-line description of the construction itself starts from the frame (62–66). The work on the horse’s belly (63 γαστέρα) is likened to a ship-builder’s handicraft (63–64), with the vocabulary alluding, as in Quintus, to the scene involving the raft of Odysseus (5.249–251):

ὅσσον τίς τ’ ἔδαφος νηὸς τορνώσεται ἀνὴρ
φορτίδος εὐρείης, εὖ εἰδὼς τεκτοσυνάων,
τόσσον ἐπ’ εὐρεῖαν σχεδίην ποιήσατ’ Ὀδυσσεύς

Just as a man might layout the hold of a ship, a capacious
vessel to transport goods –some carpenter skilled as a joiner–
such was the measure of this broad raft that Odysseus constructed [77]

The impressive and colourful, purple-fringed mane, made with yellow gold (66), provides a bridge to the next part, regarding the head (67–79). There is a particular focus on colour and material: the gem-like eyes are made of sea-green beryl and blood-red amethyst (69–70). In an expression of the ekphrastic attribute of lifelikeness, [78] the Horse looks as if it is about to bite its mouthpiece (74). A reiteration of the same element refers to its ears (78–79), with the type οὔατα, also used in Quintus (12.144) at exactly the same sedes and of the corresponding stage of construction.
Between these two sections, Epeus is described as opening passages for the ventilation of the Horse, a feature which, as Miguélez-Cavero notes, serves a manifold purpose: it demonstrates Triphiodorus’ preoccupation with “the technique and feasibility of the statue”, conforms with “the ekphrastic strategy of the complicated construction as a means of praising the image for its quality”, stresses the contrast between “the brightly-ornamented exterior, to please the eye of the beholder, and the hidden mechanisms, to meet the particular need for which the artefact is designed” and, by mentioning foul and clean air, bring the Wooden Horse “closer to a living animal” (2013:176).
The body’s completion (80–89) comprises of the back, the flanks and the backbone, and how they joined together, the hip-joints and the hips, the tail, the feet, the knees and the hooves. Once more, there is an emphasis on material, bronze (87 οὐ … ἀχαλκέες … ὁπλαί, 89 κρατερώνυχι χαλκῷ), and on the impression of lifelikeness: the feet are eager to set off in a winged race, but constraint forces them to stay put (85–86).
The last section describes the various accessories attached to the Horse. These are a door, a ladder (90–94), the trappings (95–98) and the wheels (99–102). This distances us from the description of the Horse as a living animal and refocuses our attention on the man-made construction. Discussing the trappings (95–98), Triphiodorus focuses once more on the elements of colour and material, adding to the vividness of the scene. The neck and the cheeks (95 αὐχένος ἠδὲ γενείων) are white, in stark visual contrast with the straps of purple flowers (96 ἄνθεσι πορφυρέοισι … ἱμάντων).
The last three lines focus on the impression that the completed statue provokes and the reaction to it. By analogy with the beginning of the scene (57–58), which was focusing on the patronage of Athene, its completion (104–105) associates the Horse with Ares.
In discussing two approximately contemporary versions of the same story and placing them in the context of the Wooden Horse tradition from the Epic Cycle onwards, we have observed their analogies and similarities, but also their independent approaches to the same subject-matter, up to the point that a discussion on whether the two texts acknowledge each other and/or draw on a common source would be inconclusive and beside the point. [79] It is unanswerable whether they had access to the actual texts of the Epic Cycle or if their sources were instead the widely circulated prose paraphrases used in education as a companion to the teaching of the Homeric poems. We do bear in mind, as Martin West noted, that these poems were presumably written “not to compete with old epics that are still current but to fill a gap that their disappearance has created” (2013:50). In any case, as versions and re-workings of mythical narratives which by then had definitely become common currency, they are significant indications for the reception, afterlife and impact of the Epic Cycle in the Imperial age.

Works Cited

Andersen, Ø. 1977. “Odysseus and the wooden horse.” Symbolae Osloenses 52:5–18.
Bernabé, A., ed. 1996. Poetarum Epicorum Graecorum Testimonia et Fragmenta. Pars I. Stuttgart.
Boardman, J. 1980. The Greeks Overseas. Their Early Colonies and Trade. London.
Boyd, T. W. 1998. “Recognizing Helen.” Illinois Classical Studies 23:1–18.
Burgess, J. S. 2001. The Tradition of the Trojan War in Homer and the Epic Cycle. Baltimore.
———. 2004. “Performance and the Epic Cycle.” Classical Journal 100:1–23.
Burian, P. 2009. “Introduction, Notes and Glossary.” Euripides Trojan Women. Trans. by Alan Shapiro. Oxford. 3–25, 79–111.
Campbell, M. A. 1981. Commentary on Quintus Smyrnaeus Posthomerica XII. Leiden.
Carey, C. 2015. “Stesichorus and the Epic Cycle”. In Stesichorus in Context, ed. P. J. Finglass and A. Kelly, 45–62. Cambridge.
Carpenter, T. H. 2015. “The Trojan War in early Greek art”. In The Greek Epic Cycle and its Ancient Reception. A Companion, ed. M. Fantuzzi and C. Tsagalis, 178–195. Cambridge.
Davies, M. 1991. Poetarum Melicorum Graecorum Fragmenta, Volumen I. Alcman Stesichorus Ibycus. Oxford.
———. 2000. “Climax and Structure in Odyssey 8.492–520: Further Reflections on Odysseus and the Wooden Horse”. Symbolae Osloenses 75:56–61.
Davies M. and Finglass P. J. 2014. Stesichorus The Poems, edited with introduction, translation and commentary. Cambridge.
De Jong, I. J. F. 2001. A Narratological Commentary on the Odyssey. Cambridge.
———. 2006. “The Homeric Narrator and His Own kleos.” Mnemosyne 59:188–207.
Dunn, F. M. 1993. “Beginning at the end in Euripides’ ‘Trojan Women’.” Rheinisches Museum für Philologie 136:22–35.
Ervin, M. 1963. “A Relief Pithos from Mykonos.”. Archaiologikon Deltion 18:37–75.
Ervin Caskey, M. 1976. “Notes on Relief Pithoi of the Tenian-Boiotian Group.”. American Journal of Philology 80:19–41.
Ferrari, G. 2000. “The Ilioupersis in Athens.” Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 100:119–150.
Finglass, P. J. 2013. “How Stesichorus Began His Sack of Troy.” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 185:1–17.
———. 2015. “Iliou persis.” In The Greek Epic Cycle and its Ancient Reception. A Companion, ed. M. Fantuzzi and C. Tsagalis, 344–354. Cambridge.
Franko, G. F. 2005/6. “The Trojan Horse at the Close of the ‘Iliad’.” Classical Journal 101:121–123.
Frazer, J. G., trans. 1921. Apollodorus The Library. Vol. II. London.
Gantz, T. 1993. Early Greek Myth: a guide to literary and artistic sources. Baltimore.
Giuliani, L. 2013. Image and Myth. A History of Pictorial Narration in Greek Art. Trans. Joseph O’Donnell. Chicago.
Gow, A. S. F., ed. 1952. Bucolici Graeci. Oxford.
Green, P., trans. 2015. The Iliad: A new translation. Oakland.
Hall, J. M. 2008. “Foundation Stories.” In Greek Colonisation. An Account of Greek Colonies and other Settlements Overseas. Volume Two, ed. G. R. Tsetskhladze, 383–426. Leiden.
Hett, W. S., ed. and trans. 1936. Aristotle Minor Works. Cambridge.
Hobsbawm, E. 1983. “Introduction: Inventing Traditions.” In The Invention of Tradition, ed. E. Hobsbawm and T. Ranger, 1–14. Cambridge.
Horsfall, N. 1979. “Stesichorus at Bovillae?” Journal of Hellenic Studies 99:26–48.
———. 2008. Virgil, Aeneid 2. A Commentary. Leiden.
Hurwit, J. M. 1999. The Athenian Acropolis. History, Mythology, and Archaeology from the Neolithic Era to the Present. Cambridge.
Ingoglia, C. 2000. “Il cavallo di Troia su una ‘Kotyle’ corinzia da Gela e nell’Ilioupersis di Arctino.” Quaderni Urbinati di Cultura Classica 65:7–14.
James, A. W., ed. and trans. 2004. Quintus of Smyrna: The Trojan Epic. Posthomerica. Baltimore.
Jones, W. H. S., trans. 1935. Pausanias, Description of Greece. In five volumes, IV, Books VIII (XXII)–X. Cambridge.
Kelly, A. 2015. “Ilias parva.” In The Greek Epic Cycle and its Ancient Reception. A Companion , ed. M. Fantuzzi and C. Tsagalis, 318–343. Cambridge.
Kovacs, D., ed. and trans. 1999. Euripides, Volume IV. Trojan Women. Iphigenia among the Taurians. Ion. Cambridge, MA.
———. 2018. Euripides Troades. Edited with Introduction and Commentary. Oxford.
Kurman, G. 1974. “Ecphrasis in Epic Poetry.” Comparative Literature 26:1–13.
Kwapisz, J. 2019. The Paradigm of Simias. Essays on Poetic Eccentricity. Berlin.
Lambin, G. 1998. “Le Cheval de Troie.” Gaia 3:97–108.
Losada, L. A. 1983. “Maple, Fir, and Pine: Vergil’s Wooden Horse.” Transactions of the American Philological Association 113:301–310.
Mackie, C. J. 2013. “‘Iliad’ 24 and the Judgement of Paris.” Classical Quarterly 63:1–16.
Mair, A. W., trans. 1928. Oppian, Colluthus, Tryphiodorus. Cambridge, MA.
Malkin, I. 1987. Religion and Colonization in Ancient Greece. Leiden.
———. 1998. The Returns of Odysseus: Colonization and Ethnicity. Berkeley.
McLeod, W. 1970. “The Wooden Horse and Charon’s Barque: Inconsistency in Virgil’s ‘Vivid Particularization’.” Phoenix 24:144–149.
Merrill, R., trans. 2002. The Odyssey. Ann Arbor.
Noussia-Fantuzzi, M. 2015. “The Epic Cycle, Stesichorus, and Ibycus.” In The Greek Epic Cycle and its Ancient Reception. A Companion, ed. M. Fantuzzi and C. Tsagalis, 430–449. Cambridge.
Olson, S. D. 1989. “The Stories of Helen and Menelaus (Odyssey 4.240–89) and the Return of Odysseus.” American Journal of Philology 110:387–394.
———. ed. and trans. 2009. Athenaeus, The Learned Banqueters, Volume V: Books 10.420e–11. Cambridge, MA.
Page, D. L. 1973. “Stesichorus: The ‘Sack of Troy’ and ‘The Wooden Horse’ (P. OXY. 2619 and 2803).” Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society 19:47–65.
Paton, W. R. 1918. The Greek Anthology, in five volumes, IV. London.
Petrain, D. 2014. Homer in Stone: The Tabulae Iliacae in their Roman Context. Cambridge.
Race, W. H., ed. and trans. 1997. Pindar Olympian Odes, Pythian Odes. Cambridge, MA.
Robbins, E. 1986. “The Broken Wall, the Burning Roof and Tower: Pindar Ol. 8.31–46.” Classical Quarterly 36:317–321.
Rood, N. 2008. “Craft Similes and the Construction of Heroes in the Iliad”. Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 104:19–43.
Sadurska, A. 1964. Les Tables Iliaques. Warsaw.
Sano, Y. 2020. “Three Summaries of the Ruse of the Wooden Horse in the Odyssey.” In A Special Model of Classical Reception: Summaries and Short Narrative, ed. M. de Fátima Silva, D. Bouvier, and M. das Graças Augusto, 10–21. Newcastle.
Scafoglio, G. 2005. “Virgilio e Stesicoro. Una ricerca sulla ‘Tabula Iliaca Capitolina”. Rheinisches Museum für Philologie 148:113–127.
Schmiel, R. 1972. “Telemachus in Sparta.” Transactions of the American Philological Association 103:463–472.
Sistakou, E. 2015. “The Hellenistic reception of the Epic Cycle”. In The Greek Epic Cycle and its Ancient Reception. A Companion, ed. M. Fantuzzi and C. Tsagalis, 487–495. Cambridge.
Sparkes, B. A. 1971. “The Trojan Horse in Classical Art.” Greece & Rome 18:54–70.
Squire, M. 2010. “Texts on the Tables: The ‘Tabulae Iliacae’ in their Hellenistic Literary Context.” Journal of Hellenic Studies 130:67–96.
———. 2011a. The Iliad in a Nutshell: Visualizing Epic on the Tabulae Iliacae. Oxford.
———. 2011b. “Three New ‘Tabulae Iliacae’ Reconstructions (Tablets 2NY, 9D, 20Par)”. Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 178:63–78.
Valenzuela Montenegro, N. 2004. Die Tabulae Iliacae. Mythos und Geschichte im Spiegel einer Gruppe frühkaiserzeitlicher Miniaturreliefs. Berlin.
Vanotti, G. 2007. Aristotele. Racconti meravigliosi. Introduzione, traduzione, note e apparati. Milano.
Vanschoonwinkel, J. 2006. “Mycenaean Expansion.” In Greek Colonisation. An Account of Greek Colonies and other Settlements Overseas. Volume One, ed. G. R. Tsetskhladze, 41–113. Leiden.
West, M. L. 1969. “Stesichorus Redivivus.” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 4:135–149.
———. 1982. “Stesichorus’ Horse.” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 48:86.
———. 2003a. Greek Epic Fragments from the seventh to the fifth centuries BC. Cambridge, MA.
———. 2003b. “‘Iliad’ and ‘Aethiopis’.” Classical Quarterly 53:1–14.
———. 2013. The Epic Cycle. A Commentary on the Lost Troy Epics. Oxford.
Wilson, J. R. 1968. “The Etymology in Euripides, Troades, 13–14”. American Journal of Philology 89:66–71.


[ back ] 1. Brief and up-to-date introductions for these two poems at Kelly 2015 and Finglass 2015, respectively; also, West 2013:163–243.
[ back ] 2. According to Franko 2005/6, these are, successively, Epeus knocking out an unwary opponent in a boxing match (Iliad 23.689–691), Priam ordering the Trojans to bring lumber into the city for the funeral pyre of Hector without any fear of ambush (24.778–779) and Hector being called “breaker of horses” (ἱπποδάμοιο) in the last line of the poem (24.804); in corroboration of this convincing argument, see also Mackie 2013:9–10.
[ back ] 3. See De Jong 2001:103, 215–216 and 291, for a concise analysis of the passages; see also Sano 2020.
[ back ] 4. On its structure and context, see Schmiel 1972:467–469; Olson 1989:389–391, especially for the interesting notion of Odysseus playing a “covert role as an idealized version of the narrator”; a Freudian reading of the passage at Lambin 1998. On the character of Helen, see Boyd 1998.
[ back ] 5. A marriage also mentioned at Odyssey 8.517 and Euripides Trojan Women 959–960.
[ back ] 6. A version of this narrative is also found at Triph. 454–496.
[ back ] 7. In relation to the Horse, the noun is also attested at Odyssey 8.515, 11.525, Euripides Trojan Women 534, in Triphiodorus 2, 92, 382 and Quintus of Smyrna 12.572.
[ back ] 8. For the ensuing song and for its function as a foreshadowing of later events in the epic, see Andersen 1977 and Davies 2000; West 2003b:13 and Burgess 2004:17–8, for its connection with the Epic Cycle (also see below).
[ back ] 9. See below for the Mykonos Pithos, an example of an Archaic artistic representation of the Horse as visible proof that the story was widespread at a very early date.
[ back ] 10. Quintus elaborates on this by enveloping the construction scene with a dream vision of Athene bidding Epeus to build the Horse (12.104–13) and his prayer for her blessing (12.151–4).
[ back ] 11. West 2003a:123.
[ back ] 12. For Odysseus as the possible protagonist of the Little Iliad, see West 2003a:139–142.
[ back ] 13. Frazer 1921:229–231.
[ back ] 14. For matters of design, continuity, and contradiction within the Epic Cycle, see Burgess 2001:21–33.
[ back ] 15. West 2003a:147.
[ back ] 16. As in Davies 1991:183–205; commentary at Davies and Finglass 2014:359–458; for his reception of the Epic Cycle, see Carey 2015 and Noussia-Fantuzzi 2015.
[ back ] 17. Olson 2009:189, 191.
[ back ] 18. Cf. Olson 2009:418–419; also, in West’s discussion above on Ilias Parva Bernabé, Fr. 8.
[ back ] 19. On aspects of the character of Epeus in the surviving fragments, see Finglass 2013:7–14; on the papyrological findings which triggered this interpretation and enhanced our understanding of the version, see also West 1969, Page 1973 and West 1982.
[ back ] 20. Kovacs 1999:15.
[ back ] 21. For lines 13–14, where this etymology is mentioned, see Wilson 1968, Dunn 1993:29–30 and Kovacs 2018:126–127.
[ back ] 22. Kovacs 1999:65.
[ back ] 23. Kovacs 1999:65.
[ back ] 24. Kovacs 1999:67.
[ back ] 25. Kovacs 1999:67.
[ back ] 26. This form is glossed in Hesychius s.v. as τετράποδος; see Giuliani 2013:56 for artistic representations of the Horse with wheels added to the hooves.
[ back ] 27. Judging from Hesychius s.v. βρέμοντι, glossed as ἀπειλοῦντι.
[ back ] 28. On which see Rood 2008.
[ back ] 29. Overview of issues at Horsfall 2008:56–57 and 59. Sharing its subject-matter, Aeneid 2 could be considered a site for the reception of Ἰλίου πέρσις, although any discussion on their actual intertextual relationship would prove inconclusive; on Virgil’s potential sources, Horsfall 2008:xix–xxii.
[ back ] 30. Horsfall 2008:3.
[ back ] 31. Horsfall 2008:3.
[ back ] 32. Horsfall 2008:7, 11, 13, 15.
[ back ] 33. See Horsfall ad loc. (2008:60–61, 131, 176, 207); also, McLeod 1970 and Losada 1983.
[ back ] 34. Examples and discussion at Horsfall 2008:60–61.
[ back ] 35. Horsfall 2008:5.
[ back ] 36. Detailed comments at Horsfall 2008:85–86.
[ back ] 37. Horsfall 2008:5.
[ back ] 38. Horsfall 2008:9.
[ back ] 39. See also Horsfall 2008:151–152.
[ back ] 40. For this narrative, see Gantz 1996:642–646.
[ back ] 41. Horsfall 2008:13.
[ back ] 42. Horsfall 2008:15.
[ back ] 43. Discussion and references at Horsfall 2008:218.
[ back ] 44. Horsfall 2008:15.
[ back ] 45. On its date, see Ervin 1963:73. Detailed accounts in Ervin 1963:45–46, 51–56, Sparkes 1971:56–57 and Ervin Caskey 1976:32, 36–37.
[ back ] 46. London BM 3205 (c. 700 BCE); see also Sparkes 1971:55–56.
[ back ] 47. His excellent discussion of the Horse at 2013:53–70.
[ back ] 48. James 2004:199–200.
[ back ] 49. Examples at Sparkes 1971, Burgess 2001:186 and Carpenter 2015:178–181; see also Ingoglia 2000.
[ back ] 50. Jones 1935:521.
[ back ] 51. See Hurwit 1999:195.
[ back ] 52. Jones 1918:119.
[ back ] 53. See also Ferrari 2000:119.
[ back ] 54. In Hobsbawm’s use of the term; see 1983:1–14.
[ back ] 55. See Vanotti 2007.
[ back ] 56. Hett 1936:289.
[ back ] 57. On this story, also Malkin 1998:213–214 and Vanschoonwinkel 2006:88.
[ back ] 58. As in Quintus 12.104–121.
[ back ] 59. For foundation myths in general, see Hall 2008. Malkin 1987 for the relationship between religion and colonisation. Boardman 1980:161–224 for the Greek colonisation of Italy.
[ back ] 60. This dedication also becomes the subject-matter of a pattern poem, the Axe (Πέλεκυς) by Simias of Rhodes (AP 15.22); for text and translation, see Paton 1918:126–127 and Gow 1952:174–175; discussion at Sistakou 2015:490, Kwapisz 2019:27–28, 42–43, 52–53.
[ back ] 61. Catalogues at Sadurska 1964 and Valenzuela Montenegro 2004; recent monographs by Squire 2011a and Petrain 2014.
[ back ] 62. Rome, Museo Capitolino, Sala delle Colombe 83; description at Petrain 2014:3–8 and, in detail, 188–204.
[ back ] 63. Horsfall 1979 and 2008:587–591 had dismissed the significance of the Tabulae Iliacae and the actual probability of their relationship with Stesichorus and Virgil; for the opposite argument, as part of the reappraisal of the Tabulae, see Scafoglio 2005 and Squire 2010.
[ back ] 64. Detailed description at Petrain 2014:200.
[ back ] 65. The same scene also at the central panel of the Tabula New York (2NY; see Squire 2011b:65–66, 73–74 and Petrain 2014:208).
[ back ] 66. James 2004:204.
[ back ] 67. James 2004:204.
[ back ] 68. See 1981:41, with references.
[ back ] 69. Race 1997:139, 141.
[ back ] 70. At least according to the Scholia in O. 8.41a:τὸν γὰρ Ποσειδῶνα καὶ Ἀπόλλωνα εἰς τὴν τοῦ τείχους κατασκευήν φησι τὸν Αἰακὸν προσλαβεῖν. καὶ τὸν λόγον ἀποδίδωσί, φησιν, ἵνα διὰ τούτου τοῦ μέρους <τοῦ> ὑπὸ Αἰακοῦ οἰκοδομηθέντος ἁλώσιμος γένηται ἡ Ἴλιος. παρ᾽ οὐδενὶ δὲ πρεσβυτέρῳ Πινδάρου ἡ ἱστορία. For an analysis of this story, see Robbins 1986.
[ back ] 71. Robbins (1986:318n6) casts doubt on whether Pindar had Epeus in mind, but confesses that the hero had already been attached to this lineage by the 6th century BCE (Asius). Considering his gradual rise to prominence within this narrative, it is probable that a later reader of Pindar, by the time of Quintus, would understand that Epeus was indeed included in the prophecy.
[ back ] 72. Paton 1918:193.
[ back ] 73. Iliad 7.5, Odyssey 12.172, Apollonius of Rhodes 5x, Oppian Halieutica 3x, Quintus 6.105 and 6.112.
[ back ] 74. Green 2015:109.
[ back ] 75. Mair 1928:581.
[ back ] 76. Merrill 2002:177.
[ back ] 77. Merrill 2002:150.
[ back ] 78. As mentioned in Kurman (1974:3), with regard to the ps-Hesiodic Scutum.
[ back ] 79. See the discussions at Campbell 1981:46–47 and Miguélez-Cavero 2013:157–158.

Skip to toolbar