Examine the meaning of “A Greek cannot be trusted even if he brings gifts.”

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Laocoon's words speak to the condition of paranoia that existed between the Trojans and the Greeks.  With the presence of the horse at Troy's gates, its citizens wonder how they should approach the gift.  Laocoon speaks out against the "gift."  He makes the argument that the Greeks' fundamental antagonism against Troy should cause the Trojans to think twice about the horse.  Laocoon's words are reaching the crowd, as they almost embrace his idea of rejecting the gift.  Laocoon's words speak to the deep seeded hostility that both sides had towards one another.  

The war between both the Trojans and the Greeks had raged on for quite a while, engendering much in way of hostility between both sides.  Troy's crown prince Hector had been killed as a result of the war, and Laocoon speaks from the position of mistrust of the Greeks.  The idea that no Greek can be trusted speaks to this and his rejection of the horse is testament to the intense hatred both sides had towards one another.  When Laocoon is killed by a pair of snakes, it is a sign that he was effective in his convincing and must be stopped.  When the snakes slither back to Minerva's temple, it is a reflection of who sent them and which side she supports.  The Trojans don't see it this way, paving the way for their own doom and for poets to regard Laocoon's words as valid.

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