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C O U R S E 
Greek and Roman Mythology
Dr. Peter Struck, University of Pennsylvania
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
Aeneas, Laocoon, and the Trojan Horse
Notes taken on February 19, 2014 by Edward Tanguay
in book 2, Aeneas begins to narrate for his Carthaginian hosts, his own past
Trojan War has ended
he experienced the fall of his beloved city
in a customary twist, modifies and extends Homer's story, tells of Sinon
Sinon was a Greek warrior during the Trojan War
near end of war, Aeneas is leaving the city, sees this Sinon who says he had been abandoned
standing next to him is a giant wooden horse
said they built the horse because Athena was angry with them for stealing the Palladium
said that they built it so big so it could not be brought into Troy since if it was, Troy would never be able to be conquered
Laocoon [lay-AHK-oh-wahn]
a Trojan who warns that this is a lie, but serpents come up out of the sea and bite and kill him
Trojans see this and now redouble their urgency of bringing this horse into the city
Odysseus lies quite a bit in the Odysseus and Homer admires him for doing it, Athena egging him on to lie, humans like it when he does, everyone is entertained
Virgil plays on this and has the Greeks, here Sinon, lie again
so this is the definitive account of what happened after the Trojan war
Greeks come out of the horse, annihilate the city
Virgil describes in great detail
with great concern of what is happening to his city
Aeneas is hero figure, but ironically the first thing that he has to do is "abandon his ship", i.e. leave Troy
so Virgil has to start a story of abandonment of his home city
but plenty of good reasons:
humans, gods and ghosts come and tell him to leave
even his wife begs for him to leave
e.g. the way Venus tells Aeneas to go is very Virgilian
*** Venus peels back what is happening so he can see the gods dismantling the walls of Troy, deeply sinister
*** for Homer there is an anger and rage, but for Virgil there is a kind of existential menace operating behind the scenes
Virgil's world has depths of sinister forces operating compared to Homer's more two dimensional world
we thus see Tory engulfed in flames not only literally but in this broad, existential sense
Aeneas is carrying his father out of the city, a symbol of his past and tradition
he's also guiding his son by the hand, his future
Virgil's world is characterized by shifting surfaces, whereas Homer is often brightly lit most of the time, we can see the obvious connections between people and events
with Virgil it's hard to get at what is basically happening
this is also happening to Aeneas, he is not going to be in command of all the things happening around him
he is being pulled along to meet this grand destiny but there will be lots of pain, troubles, and suffering along the way