Laocoön

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Laocoön (Ancient Greek: Λαοκόων, IPA: [la.oˈko.ɔːn]; English: /leɪˈɒkɵ.ɒn/) the son of Acoetes[1] is a figure in Greek and Roman mythology, a Trojan priest of Poseidon[2] (or Neptune), whose rules he had defied, either by marrying and having sons,[3] or by having committed an impiety by making love with his wife in the presence of a cult image in a sanctuary.[4] His minor role in the Epic Cycle narrating the Trojan War was of warning the Trojans in vain against accepting the Trojan Horse from the Greeks—"A deadly fraud is this," he said, "devised by the Achaean chiefs!"[5]—and for his subsequent divine execution by two serpents sent to Troy across the sea from the island of Tenedos, where the Greeks had temporarily camped.[6]

Laocoön warned his fellow Trojans against the wooden horse presented to the city by the Greeks. In the Aeneid, Virgil gives Laocoön the famous line Equo ne credite, Teucri / Quidquid id est, timeo Danaos et dona ferentes, or "Do not trust the Horse, Trojans / Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks even bearing gifts." This line is the source of the saying: "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts."

Contents

Death

The most detailed description of Laocoön's grisly fate was provided by Quintus Smyrnaeus in Posthomerica, a later, literary version of events following the Iliad. According to Quintus, Laocoon begged the Trojans to set fire to the horse to ensure it was not a trick. Athena, angry with him and the Trojans, shook the ground around Laocoon's feet and painfully blinded him. The Trojans, watching this unfold, assumed Laocoon was punished for The Trojans' mutilating and doubting Sinon, the undercover Greek soldier sent to convince the Trojans to let him and the Horse inside their city walls. Thus, the Trojans wheeled the great wooden Horse in. Laocoon did not give up trying to convince the Trojans to burn the horse, and Athena makes him pay even further. She sends two giant serpents to strangle and kill his two sons.[7]

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