Quora answer: Is there any actual historical basis to the Trojan Horse, or is it pure mythology?

Jul 27 2011



The Trojan Horse is pure Mythology, but that is something deep and not superficial, but there are many examples of War machines in the history of ancient and modern warfare. But the idea that the Trojan Horse could exist as a means of tricking a city into the loss of a war as is portrayed in the Epics is ludicrous. Can you imagine bringing something like that in which had forty men inside (the traditional number). Just the weight of the thing in disproportion to its building materials, presumably wood is enough to bring suspicion. And Helen actually spoke to each man in the voice of his wife in order to trick them into revealing themselves, so she had a woman’s intuition of what was inside. First thing that would have happened is that the thing would be dismantled, before it is brought inside the city. So the whole idea that people would bring it inside willingly without checking it our, without posting a guard on it, even if there was a man who had given lie to what caused the horse to be built and given to the Trojans by the, it does not make sense that they were that gullible. But of course people do some very stupid things and so who is to tell. But personally I think it was clearly meant as a joke by the Poet. And it was a joke of a very peculiar kind because it pointed to something much deeper.

In Aristophanes comedies there is a Parabasis which are interludes where the author speaks directly to the audience, mostly to ask them to vote for his play over the others at the competition. Aristophanes is in Plato’s symposium and delivers an important speech about how lovers were glued together at one time being of one body. Plato has an interesting relation with Aristophanes because it was he who wrote the Clouds which was some of the propaganda that was antecedent to Socrates’ execution by his fellow citizens. Aristophanes portrayed Socrates as a natural philosopher, which he was in his youth. So on the one hand Aristophanes can be partially blamed for Socrates death, and on the other hand he is given an important speech in the Symposium. But more importantly many of Plato’s wilder ideas were also portrayed in Aristophanes plays and so they shared many ideas some put forward as if they were serious proposals and the other mean to only be jokes. Thus by adopting the ideas of Aristophanes is warning us not to take the substance of the ideas that are proposed too seriously, because after all they were plagiarizer from comedies. But on the other hand Aristophanes makes the claim in his Parabasis that he is giving the city wisdom. I started reading the plays carefully looking for some hint of wisdom hidden by the bawdy jokes and finally found some in the Birds where Aristophanes offers a alternative theogony to that of Hesiod. In that theogony there is not just one primordial entity, i.e. Gaia but four. And these four are Abyss, Covering, Night, and Chaos. These are all associated with the feminine just as the positive fourfold enunciated by Socrates, and taken up by Heidegger which is Heaven/Earth and Mortal/Immortal. This fourfold is the outward fourfold that describes the world. But the negative fourfold of Aristophanes describes the worlds sources in four female primeval deities. When we reverse these female deities then we get their male equivalents which is much more revealing than the fourfold of Socrates which are Light, Grounding, Uncovering (Alethia) and Order. Once we know about this other positive fourfold which is the reversal of the negative fourfold ascribed to women then we can more deeply appreciate the structure of our worldview. And so this is part of the Wisdom that Aristophanes gives us in his play the Birds. Out of this fourfold arises Eros, and then the Birds, and then the Gods, thus the Birds (according to the Birds) come before the creation of the Gods.

Now once we have this piece of information we can look for this pattern in other parts of Greek myth, and it turns out to be in the Iliad. Night is the Night Raid of Odysseus where he retrieves his grandfathers armor, but also where he breaks the rules of war. Covering is when Aphrodite covers Paris so he can return to Helen rather than having to face his enemies on the battle field. Abyss is the death that each pair of warriors face when they confront each other, and recite their genealogies and then one falls into the abyss of death. The Iliad is full of these vignettes. Chaos is obviously the battle field itself. But interestingly in order to fight you need to muster your troops into ranks and ordering them for war. In the Battle there is the uncovering of Glory where some men gain it and others lose it or are lost in oblivion of death. War is to be fought by Daylight, and it is the realm of light where glory is to be seized on the battlefield for all to see. Grounding is the reasoning that calls for the pursuit of war, that makes the loss of life palatable because the significance of what is at stake in the conflict is great. Unfortunately Achilles is disillusioned with this because of the actions of Agamemnon and thus at one point he withdraws from the battle. The battle rages between Heaven and Earth, and is participated in by both mortals and immortals as seen in the Epic. The war is a conflagration that resounds in the heavens and in the earth, and mirrors the war between the different generations of the gods, Titans and Olympians. The Titans were like the Trojans and the Olympians were like the Achaeans in the battle for the heavens. Men who battle for earth, or earthly things reflect the dissensions of the gods and goddesses. In this case the dissension is between the goddesses who were spurned by Paris in the Beauty contest at the wedding of Thetis and Peleus who gave rise to Achilles, but it was also born of a patriarchal agreement between the brothers Poseidon, Hades, and Zeus who split up the realms of the earth not to engage in sex with Thetis because it was rumored that her son would be greater than his father, and the patriarchal gods did not want an upstart taking the kingdom from them as they had taken it from their parents. So they decided to marry Thetis to Peleus against her will which was the way of most marriages in those days where the patriarchs determine the fate of women. So there is agreement among the males and dissension among the females resulting from a decision as to who to give the golden apple to that Eris had placed among the wedding goers for spite since she as strife was not invited. She turned up anyway and sewed the seed of the Trojan war by that apple which said on it for the most beautiful. It was decided to pick a random shepherd which was Paris. Each goddess tried to bribe him, and he settled for the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen despite the inconvenience that she was already married to Menelaus. Such were the seeds of the Trojan war in the agreements and disagreements of the gods which then implicated humans in that strife caused by the desire for a golden apple. Golden apples were extremely rare, and we only know about one place where they come from which is at the entrance to the underworld in the West where Hercules found them guarded by a dragon.

Eris: http://pstevensfhs.wikispaces.com/file/view/Eris4

The Apple said “for the most beautiful” and Paris chose for himself the goddess Aphrodite who offered the most beautiful. In other words there is a reflexive relationship around that phrase between the quandary set for Paris, which goddess was the most beautiful, and the outcome which was his choice of Helen. That apple which shines with reflexiveness due to its golden nature, as nontarnishable, like human glory itself, is a bit of quintessence. Quintessence here is very apropos because Quintessence means five sides and the structure inside an apple is fivefold where the seeds lie. Quintessence is when the Aspects of Being which are Presence, Truth, Reality and Identity and their opposites are all true of something. That something would later be called the Philosophers Stone, or Prime Matter. This is the opposite of Existence which is that which is neither Truth or Fiction, Reality or Illusion, Presence or Absence, Identity or Difference. Existence if seen as Empty or Void is interpreted to be under the sign of the non-existence of the aspects. The aspects are shared by Being and Existence, but because Existence is non-Being by Parmenides reckoning it must be the non-existence of the aspects or their opposites that is the primary characteristic of nondual existence.

Now in another post I have likened the Trojan Horse to an emergent event. And I have shown that it has all the meta-levels of Being inscribed within it so that it is a face of the world to the Trojans who did not recognize its danger. They let it inside the city, and in effect they let the war within their city which had been held out for so long. The Trojan Horse is a sign for all Emergent Events within our worldview. And it corresponds to the scene in the Mahabharata of the Dice game where Draupadi was disrobed, but a miracle occurred and she could not be disrobed completely but the cloth merely kept on coming off of her until they gave up attempting to disrobe her after she was lost in the dice game, after her husband had already lost his brothers (her other husbands) and himself. So she opined that he could not have lost her if he had already lost himself. A paradox in private property when it is applied to human beings as well. In the Mahabharata there is a black swan event, i.e. a miracle that saved Draupadi. Emergent events are black swan events, they are so rare we do not expect to see them in our lifetimes, but then they seem to happen more often than they should and that is because our risk calculations overlap each other and the completely orthogonal risk categories are not kept separate. Draupadi is married to five husbands, and it is rumored that Helen has had five lovers all heroes involved in the war to rescue her. Helen is almost a goddess herself, and is a sign of fertility. The most beautiful is the most average as we see if we take photos of women and overlay them, eventually they reach an archetypal level where they become beautiful to us. Thus the fact that Helen could call to each of the men in the Trojan horse with the voice of their wives shows that she was an embodiment of the archetype of beauty made from the overlay of the features of many women, in fact all who were involved in the war to take her back from Troy.

The inscribed golden apple (For the most beautiful … is Helen) was a sign pointing to Helen and the rivalry over her as a fertility goddess, and a sign of the fertility of the land and the people. She was an archetype of beauty among human women and thus the object of desire. For Lacan this means that jouissance enters the picture which is overweening desire. Just like “Repetition” for Deleuze is that which does not repeat, so to “jouissance” is “the desire that cannot be fulfilled”, which is romantic love, love for the one you cannot have, and that is precisely the kind of Love that exists between Paris and Helen (urged on by Aphrodite). And this ideal of “Repetition” and jouissance is represented by the sign of quintessence which is the golden apple which refers to Helen, and Aphrodite. Aphrodite is the Symbol of desire, the written on apple is the sign, and Helen is the object of desire. This is what Peirce would later call the structure of the sign, which is three fold, and is represented in the triangles of the Patriarchs who agreed about Thetis, and the female Goddesses who coveted the prize for being the most beautiful and thus elicited the choice from Paris. Paris saw the object of desire (Helen) through the Symbol of desire based on the agreement between them in the sign of desire.

Hesperides: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/Herakles/apples.html
The quintessence of the Golden inscribed Apple is the key to the whole conflict because it is the first emergent, that precedes the Trojan Horse as the emergent event for the Trojans, that through which they let Chaos into their city. The primal scene of the Golden Apples occurs in the Labors of Hercules where he goes to the furthest western land and there finds a tree of golden apples guarded by a dragon. Hercules defeats the dragon and takes the golden apples. Presumably Eris came into possession of one of those apples, or took one previously. The place where the apples are kept by the dragon are at the gates of Hades. Hercules defeats the dog with many heads (Cerberus) that guards that entrance and enters Hades and lives to tell the tale. Every thing is set up in the myth of the beginning of the war so we can understand what the precursor of the emergent event is and its relation to nihilism. But here there are only nuances, because things are still small and the conflict is only between guests playing a beauty agent game at a marriage festival spurred on by Eris the only goddess not invited, the sister of Ares, the God of War.

Ares: http://www.foundationhellenicculture.com/gods

War is the great leveler of men sending many to their deaths to dwell as shades in Hades. But also in War is glory. And there are many reports from Antiquity where warriors saw Athena out in front of them leading them on into battle. Of course, these men fought for their wives and lovers at home who were like Hera and Aphrodite. But it was the man like Athena, a women like Joan of Arc who wore armor that led them into battle. So the great pain and suffering and death of war also called out the best in men defending their loved ones back in their city, as Hector did, was thus balanced by the possibilities of performing feats that would make ones name live on indefinitely, or as long as there was a scop that would tell the tale of one’s exploits. So war is nihilistic leading to the black holes of falling into oblivion and death, and the miracles of glorious deeds against all odds. But sometimes war or a feud or a local temporary conflict starts due to something someone says at a dinner party. And this is the case here. What is a trifle for the gods who say that they are immortal, is a determination of fate for men who find themselves in the midst of great strife for almost no reason that they themselves can think of as being something that would cause them to fight. Odysseus pretended to be mad when they came to get him to participate in the war. He was a rock strewn field sowing it with salt instead of grain, until they threw Telemachus down before his horses, who he avoided thus showing that he was sane.

ERIS: http://www.theoi.com/Daimon/Eris.html

It is significant that the Apple the primordial emergent, let us call it the “novum”, is a sign of the type posited by Peirce. The apple is rolled into the circle of guests by Eris (strife), just as the Trojan horse enters the city of men as a deception. The apple is golden and there fore it does not perish and thus it has Pure Being (present-at-hand) but it rolls into the circle of the Mortals and Immortals, thus having a dynamic character which comes from its ready-to-hand characteristic of being signifying equipment thus reminding us of Process Being. And then the reference on the Apple is ambiguous, and slippery, because we do not know whether its reference is to the Symbol of Desire which is Aphrodite, or the object of Desire which is Helen that it has reference to. Paris picks the one which will deliver the most beautiful one to him, thus taking beauty himself from the one he calls beautiful, the symbol of desire, Aphrodite.

Out of the Four primordial female principles that Aristophanes tells us about in his alternative theogony, is Eros. Eros is the male counterpart to Aphrodite, later called cupid. It is Eros that is born as male from the four primordial female deities that make up the negative fourfold.

What ever is presented in the circle of the Gods has been given pure presence, because the gods themselves are pure presences, always absent to humans who work for them and worship them from afar hoping to avoid their wrath. The Golden Apple which is inscribed enters that circle of pure presence before the gods, by rolling as a process, and presents an enigmatic sign that calls for interpretation, by a mere human like Paris, a shepherd on a hill outside Troy. What enters the circle of pure presence to all the gods is the quintessence which is both present and absent, true and fictitious, real and illusory, identical yet different. And the gods are fascinated by it because its nontarnishability reflects their own imperishable essence. But golden apples are guarded by dragons, and they never lose that shadow of the dragon lurking near. Dragons like Phython and Typhoon (destroyed by Apollo and Zeus) are monsters beyond the pale of experience. The Python existed at Delphi. Delphi is a meteor site where Heaven and Earth met. It became an oracle site and housed the rock which was the core of the world: the Omphalos (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omphalos). Plato in the Laws refers to a rock from which all the boundary stones were measured but which as not on a boundary. The sculpture that stood in for the Omphalous is covered in knots within a net like. It is interesting that the net of knots covers the surface of the Omphalos because that net is like the boundary lines between the boundary stones. But the “navel” of the world is not on any boundary. The grounding of the net needs to be off the grid so to speak. We talked about grounding as being significant in the Worldview, as the opposite of the abyss of groundlessness. Philosophy after Godel is in the process of accepting its inherent groundlessness. But for the ancients the point of grounding was the meteor site where heaven meets earth. In other words it is a place decided by fate as the origin of what ever grids or nets we project onto the landscape in order to align our maps with that landscape. And those grids and nets are represented on the Omphalos itself that was unearthed at Delphi, where Apollo killed the Python and set up the oracle.

We could identify the Omphalos with the Golden Apple in as much as the golden apples are also guarded by a dragon. In as much as there is a vent with fumes at Delphi that comes out of the ground, and is thus an opening to the underworld. In as much as the golden apples are at the extreme western point in the world, and the golden fleece is at the extreme eastern part of the world. Hercules went to the extreme West to fetch the Golden apples, and Jason and his crew went to the extreme east of the world to fetch his the fleece. At the center point of the world is Delphi. These are the places where new things come into our world. Something can either come from the extremity or the center. An emergent event can either be a new hither to unknown phenomena or it can be something that arrives from far away through the furthest boundary of our world. Emergence can either occur from the inside or outside. So as the Fleece is at the extreme east, and the apples are at the center so to the Omphalos is at the center. And those things that appear from the earth are oracles, saying picked up by the Pythoness priestess or sayer, that are interpreted to men but never made perfectly clear. The saying that Thetis will have a son greater than her father, or that Achilles will have a choice between a long uneventful life and a short glorious one are all oracle statements from Delphi.

Herakles & Hesperides: http://0.tqn.com/d/ancienthistory/1/0/m/g/2/788px-Herakles_Hesperides_Louvre_M11.jpg

Once we understand how the golden apple was brought from the border of the world in the West to the marriage by Eris then we know that it is an emergent event that comes from the West, which is different from those that come from the east and the rising sun. The golden apple is a quintessence that represents the last of things rather than the first of things. It is not a source but a sink. So the earlier Epic of Jason had to do with the source of things, while these epics of the Iliad and Odyssey have to do with the end of things. The sign of the end appears at the marriage of Peleus and Thetis as a beginning of covetousness among the goddesses and the decision to preserve the order of the power structure by avoiding a god marrying Thetis. Covetousness is the nature of Baal, the Ugritic Zeus.

Because the apple comes from the west near the opening to Hades we know that it is Hades that is preeminent, and that is why the war will claim so many men for such a petty goal as recovering one woman. But if we realize that this woman represents fertility, then it is understandable why such a prolonged war should be justified. Without fertility there would be no sons to carry on the name of the fathers and thus sustain the patriarchy. Hades and Aphrodite are prominent, i.e. Love and Death.

Hesperides: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hesperides See also http://www.kingsgalleries.com/imagebank/artists/marino-vasallo/twilight-(41854).jpg

Into the circle of the gods and goddesses at the wedding Eris the excluded on rolls the golden apple and thus produces strive in a scene where for once all the major patriarchal gods are in agreement. Discord occurs among the female gods over a superficial thing like Beauty, and so a human is asked to judge. That human Paris makes a fateful decision by choosing Aphrodite. Over Wisdom and Wealth/Power he chooses what is most Beautiful. Plato says that the Beautiful is the most accessible way to approach the source forms. So in Plato Beauty and the Eros that it inspires plays a key role in human motivation.

When the fateful choice is made, then things begin to unfold in unexpected ways, Paris travels to the home of Menelaus and Helen prompted by Aphrodite runs off with him, and the Achaeans pursue them and the Trojan war itself follows. But all this strife and conflict has its origins in the seemingly simple act of rolling the golden apple into the circle of the sun with its special sign. The ambiguity of that sign pointing to X (which every goddess thinks is herself) reminds us of the ambiguity of the oracles of Delphi. But out of the ambiguity and its being made clear by the choice of Paris, then things take their own course and it ends in War that lasts ten years and ends with the destruction of a city, Troy. Key in the fall of troy was the trick of the Trojan Horse. But the precursor to the entry of the movable horse sculpture into the city, was the entry of the quintessential signifying apple into the circle of the gods from the excluded one, Eris, strife.

Jason returns with the golden Fleece on an Apulian red-figure calyx krater, ca. 340–330 BC

So the mythology is telling us that there is a complete parallel here between the golden apple entering the circle of gods and the Trojan horse entering the city. The Omphalos is hollow, the Golden Fleece is just a skin, the apples have a core which is hollow. The Trojan horse is hollow and contains men who will do the city harm once they are unleashed. The apple has seeds from which future trees will spring in the next iteration of the day and night cycle. The golden fleece preserves a remnant of the Golden ram who miraculously appeared to save the children of Nephele, the simulacrum of Hera.

This suggests that there is an emergent meta-system at work here. At the west there are the gates of hell, and the golden apples produces the seeds that will go into the abyss at the end of the world. In the dark of the underworld there is a creative object, a golden child who assures the arising of beings again. When those things appear at the dawn with Eos where there appears the skin of the flying ram that saved Nephele’s children. Zeus made Nephele to trick someone who wanted to make love to Hera, she was a simulacrum, but once her role as decoy was over it was inconvenient to have a duplicate of Hera around, so Hera married her off to human who later fell for another woman and they attempted to kill her children who just managed to escape by the appearance of a winged ram who could speak with a golden fleece. They preserved that fleece at the furthest east point on the eastern shore of the black sea. The fleece preserves only the outward aspect of things, which is what you see on the horizon when the emergent event appears, this is analogous to the mutual action of monads in the Emergent Meta-system. Their creation from sources are mysterious, but when they appear we are interested in their outward appearance and mutual action. However as they move toward the moment of the viewpoint in the Emergent Meta-system cycle we want to find the right perspective on this new phenomena via an anagogic swerve. And that view point has to be comprehensive and a priori. So this global viewpoint occurs at the Omphalos. It is the point which is off the map boundaries from which the map boundaries are measured. It is represented by a hollow globe with a knotted net showing its comprehensive nature as a filter for reality. On this basis of the ground in the omphalos at the point were heaven, earth and underworld meet there can be a schematization of the new phenomena and its quintessence recognized producing the final stage where we return to the golden apple at the end of the world, beside the dragon, and near the entrance to Hades. There are dragons associated with each step on this journey of the Sun. This puts into perspective why we found the golden boy Pluto in the underworld as the son of Persephone and Dionysus. He is called in Hindu Mythology the Hiranyagarbha (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiranyagarbha) which is the basis for ideas of the Alayavijana and the tatagata gharba. In other word it is what holds the quasi-causal (Deleuze) seeds of Karmic causality which operates regardless of having no substance to depend upon. This can occur because karmic action has no beginning nor end but is in constant circulation as the emergent meta-system.

But what we see here is that these myths are very precisely structured and contain deep thoughts, like the idea that the Emergent Event for the Human Community has a precursor among the Gods. For the Gods it is quintessence that is golden. And there is a cycle from the Golden Boy who is rumored to be born from Dionysus and Persephone, to the Golden Fleece, i.e. manifest in the outward as pure presence, to the Omphalus which gives a global picture or viewpoint on phenomena, to the Golden apple that provides the seeds to be planted in the abyss of Hades and then spawns the Golden Boy. This set of objects relate to the Abyss in that the abyss of death in Hades is the fate of all men and its entrance is in the West because that is where the sun sets. The Golden Boy is in this in the eternal night of Hades. The Golden Fleece is a covering taken from a miraculous Ram which had wings. The Omphaos is the point that heaven and earth meet in the meteor crash site which produces chaos, and a wild point which is an origin from which all other boundary stones are measured. The knotted net on the Omphalos is like the grid of the boundary stones and boundary lines cast across the landscape but also across the surface of the Omphalos, where the map and the territory are different. Who is to say that these four manifestations of Quintessence do not produce the emergent event and form a quadralectic such as was found to be the basis of Design.

Thus the Trojan Horse in being mythic is no less real than anything else in the Western worldview. Being Mythic means that the four dimensional time moment is still in tact and has not gone though the symmetry breaking of the transition from mythopoietic to metaphysical yet. These mythical representations are strong and deep and tell us things we never would have guessed on our own if we take them seriously. To the extent we have not gotten the message of the Epics and do not understand the worldview we are doomed to inhabit as we dree our wyrd then we are comparable to the shades of the underworld ourselves, caught in an illusion we do not understand. The Trojan horse is the embodiment of the Emergent Event in the Iliad, but that emergent event points to a deeper event that took place among the Gods at the Wedding of Peleus and Thetis before the birth of Achilles.

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