Homer The Iliad Book 24 Scene: Hektor’s funeral, he’s just been cremated. This passage is taken from the last page, part of the final paragraph. 1950 version translated by E.V. Rieu, 2003 amendments Peter Jones.
‘…They took the bones, wrapped them in soft purple clothing and put them in the golden coffin. This coffin they immediately lowered into a hollow grave which they covered with a close-set layer of large stones. They hurriedly piled up earth over it to mark the grave-mound, posting guards all round in case the Greeks launched a premature attack. When they had piled up the mound, they returned into the city and reassembled for a magnificent funeral feast in the palace of Priam their Olympian-bred ruler.
Such were the funeral rites of horse-taming Hektor.’
Priam had stolen into the Greeks camp and retrieved his son’s body from Akhilles. The Greek champion promised the king they will grant twelve days for funeral rites, and fighting ceased. During this time, the Greeks played games, a version of the Olympics, while the Trojans gathered to honour their hero. That’s it. Nothing more.
For those who are not familiar with Homer’s story, he never mentioned a Trojan Horse. It was a later invention by storytellers long after Homer. It doesn’t mean something like that never happened but if Homer didn’t have it in his rendition, chances are it wasn’t part of the original story.
So why include it? Why does a writer tell stories? To entertain and for excitement.
In Virgil’s Aeneid, which describes the siege of Troy, his character Laocoon tells the doomed citizens of Ilium ‘don’t trust the horse, Trojans! Whatever it is, I fear Greeks even when they are bringing gifts’. Hence the phrase, ‘Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.’
Now, I am novice historian, but have read books and watched documentaries about Troy and the myths. If there was a hint of truth about the ‘Trojan Horse’, it probably be more siege towers. The Greeks camped out on the plains of Troy for ten years, anything is possible. Trees were cut down to make temporary huts so why not build siege towers.
I prefer Homer’s version, though a variation always makes the story interesting.