There aren’t too many famous horses, except for Seabiscuit, Secretariat, and Mister Ed. But one of the most memorable horses of all time wasn’t even a real horse— the Trojan wooden horse that helped the Greeks win the Trojan war. On April 24, 1184 B.C., Greek soldiers descended from the horse’s stomach, resulting in one of the greatest war victories of all time.

‘The face that launched a thousand ships’

The Trojan War (1194 – 1184 B.C.) began when the prince of Troy eloped with the king of Sparta’s wife, Helen. Playwright Christopher Marlowe famously said she was “the face that launched a thousand ships.” The war became one of the most important events in Greek mythology and has been highlighted in several Greek works, including Homer’s Iliad.

But every war must end and according to tradition, the city of Troy eventually fell to Greek invaders on April 24, 1184 B.C. The Greeks decided to play a brilliant mind trick on the Trojans, and it definitely worked in their favor.

Building the Trojan horse

The Greeks are known for their intelligence, so it shouldn’t be surprising they were able to trick the Trojans. Using wood from a tree grove sacred to the god Apollo, the Greeks crafted a giant hollow horse with the inscription: “The Greeks dedicate this thank-offering to Athena for their return home.”

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The Trojans believed the Greeks had returned home, but that’s not what happened. Instead, Greek soldiers were inside the Trojan wooden horse, led by the legendary hero, Odysseus. The Trojans brought the horse into the city. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a good decision.

Beginning the final battle

Greek soldiers waited until close to midnight to emerge from the wooden horse and surprise Troy’s guards. They were killed and the city of Troy quickly realized they had been tricked by their enemy.

Troy was rampaged, with hundreds of men, women, and children slaughtered or raped. The Greeks were victorious in the Trojan War, and no one was going to forget that. Beware if you ever see a giant wooden horse. You don’t know who could be inside.