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Sinon: The Man Behind The Fall of Troy

Ancient Greek

Sinon: The Man Behind The Fall of Troy

“The Procession of the Trojan Horse in Troy” by Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo


By André Bastos Gurgel, OAB

Hello, everyone! Welcome to Carmenta’s Classical Blog. Today I’ll be sharing the story of a character who played an important role in the outcome of the Trojan War. It is widely known that the Trojans decided to take a wooden horse into their city; less spoken of, however, is the man who convinced them to do it. His name was Sinon, a relative of Odysseus who had been charged by the Greek chieftains with that very task.

According to Quintus Smyrnaeus, in going to attack the Greek camp the Trojans arrive to find it almost completely empty. There is no one there except Sinon. They begin by simply questioning him about the horse but, as he refuses to answer, start torturing him–even cutting off his ears and his nose. He then tells them that the Greeks have returned home and built this wooden horse to honor Athena in order that they might do so safely. Sinon also claims that Odysseus wanted to sacrifice him but that he managed to escape and hide in a marsh.

Here is an excerpt from Smyrnaeus’ “The Fall of Troy” which recounts Sinon’s exchange with the Trojans. The English translation is by A.S. Way.

‘Ἀργεῖοι μέν νηυσὶν ὑπὲρ πόντοιο φέβονται
μακρῷ ἀκηδήσαντες ἐπὶ πτολέμῳ καὶ ἀνίῃ:
Κάλχαντος δ᾽ ἰότητι δαΐφρονι Τριτογενείῃ
ἵππον ἐτεκτήναντο, θεῆς χόλον ὄφρ᾽ ἀλέωνται
πάγχυ κοτεσσαμένης Τρώων ὕπερ: ἀμφὶ δὲ νόστου
ἐννεσίῃς Ὀδυσῆος ἐμοὶ μενέαινον ὄλεθρον,
ὄφρα με δῃώσωσι δυσηχέος ἄγχι θαλάσσης
δαίμοσιν εἰναλίοις. ἐμὲ δ᾽ οὐ λάθον, ἀλλ᾽ ἀλεγεινὰς
σπονδάς τ᾽ οὐλοχύτας τε μάλ᾽ ἐσσυμένως ὑπαλύξας
ἀθανάτων βουλῇσι παραὶ ποσὶ κάππεσον ἵππου:
οἱ δὲ καὶ οὐκ ἐθέλοντες ἀναγκαίῃ με λίποντο
ἁζόμενοι μεγάλοιο Διὸς κρατερόφρονα κούρην.’

“The Argives in their ships flee oversea weary of tribulation of endless war. This horse by Calchas’ counsel fashioned they for wise Athena, to propitiate her stern wrath for that guardian image stolen from Troy. And by Odysseus’ prompting I was marked for slaughter, to be sacrificed to the sea-powers, beside the moaning waves, to win them safe return. But their intent I marked; and ere they spilt the drops of wine, and sprinkled hallowed meal upon mine head, swiftly I fled, and, by the help of Heaven, I flung me down, clasping the Horse’s feet; and they, sore loth, perforce must leave me there dreading great Zeus’s daughter mighty-souled.”

I hope you have enjoyed this post. You may also be interested in knowing that Sinon was on the mind of Shakespeare, who references him in act 3, scene 2 of “King Henry VI”:

“I’ll play the orator as well as Nestor,
Deceive more slily than Ulysses could,
And, like a Sinon, take another Troy.”

If you are interested in ancient Greek, please visit our site at http://www.latintutors.net/tutor-search/ancient-greek/.


André Bastos Gurgel
André Bastos Gurgel, OAB (Order of Attorneys of Brazil), Academic Advisor for the Carmenta Online Latin School, is a life-long student of both modern and ancient languages. Mr. Gurgel is fluent in English, Portuguese, Latin, Mandarin, Spanish, French, Italian, and German and has a working knowledge of Danish, Hebrew, Ancient Greek, and Sanskrit. He has also worked as a tutor and teacher in a number of languages. Mr. Gurgel has been instrumental in expanding the Carmenta Online Latin School’s presence in a variety of social media.

Click here to read Mr. Gurgel’s full profile.



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