So you’d probably have to have been living under a rock (or else just snowed-under with revision) not to have heard about the attempted Islamist takeover of a number of schools in Birmingham.
So you’d probably have to have been living under a rock (or else just snowed-under with revision) not to have heard about the attempted Islamist takeover of a number of schools in Birmingham. Unless you’re up to scratch on your Greek mythology, you may, at some point during the extensive media coverage, have wondered why everyone’s calling it ‘Operation Trojan Horse.’
If so, then here’s a simplified re-telling of (one version of) the original Trojan Horse myth, purely for your enlightenment.
A metaphor for a trick
Somewhat unsurprisingly, the story of the Trojan Horse came about during the Trojan War, which is often considered to be one of the most important events in Greek mythology. The war was fought between the city of Troy and the Achaeans (the Greeks), after a quarrel involving various goddesses and kings. It was the Trojan Horse plot that eventually ended the war after ten years of conflict.
In order to overcome the city and consequently end the war, the Greeks needed to enter Troy. Therefore, they devised a scheme to build a large wooden horse, which they would then leave outside the gates of the city. After doing this, they would pretend to admit defeat and sail away.
Unbeknown to the Trojans (the people of Troy), the Greek army had hidden 30 carefully selected men inside the horse, in the hope of secretly infiltrating the city. All went to plan for the Greeks, as the Trojans fell for their phoney surrender and wheeled the huge horse through the gates as a kind of trophy.
When night fell, the Greeks sailed back to find that the gates had been opened by their accomplices, who had been hidden in the horse. This meant that the army could destroy the city of Troy and finally put an end to the war.
As a result of this myth, the phrase ‘Trojan Horse’ is often used as a metaphor for a plot or scheme that tricks a victim into allowing a foe into an otherwise securely protected place. Bearing this in mind, it’s fairly easy to work out why the recently exposed events in Birmingham have been dubbed ‘Operation Trojan Horse.’
But why on earth do we find ourselves turning to a phrase about a mythological wooden horse from thousands of years ago? I suppose one reason would be that metaphors have become a common part of our everyday writing and speech, as they force readers/listeners to find similarities between certain events and descriptions.
For example, when someone tells you to “stop being a sheep,” you immediately know that they think you should stop following the crowd and start developing your own style. Therefore, this whole idea has been expressed using one simple word, ‘sheep.’
In the same way, ‘Trojan Horse’ encompasses all the implications of tricking a victim into obliviously allowing an enemy into their safely secured area under false pretences, meaning it can be easily and universally explained. But why use something so old? Well, why change a good metaphor once you’ve found one?
Of course, it’s not necessary to understand the metaphorical meaning of everything you hear on the news. But surely it doesn’t hurt and you never know when this random information will come in handy!
What do you think? Have your say in the comments section below.