Tarzan's Tripes Forever, and Other Feghoots

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The Trojan Horse

Category: Puns, Rated G, Shaggy Dogs

This is by Dr. Jake Katz.


Tell me, O twins from the land of Odysseus and Onassis, of Agnew and Apollo, O inheritors of the roles of Castor and Polydeuces: have you heard the story of how, through trickery, the Achaeans were able to pass through the impregnable walls of Ilium and bring low the Trojan defenders? Listen, then; and may I push your heads just a bit closer to the water’s surface, slightly below perhaps? No?

Well, in any case, heed ye these my words, for many of them are true:

In the days of the Trojan War, air superiority, satellite reconnaissance, and onshore naval-artillery bombardment did not play such prominent roles as they do nowadays; instead, the ancients had to depend upon quick wits, clever ruses… idiotic gags.

It seems that the Greeks wished to gain surreptitious entrance to the walled city of Troy for a group of their soldiers, the better to reduce said city to rubble — and inhabitants to ruination.

One thing stood in their way; nay, two things: wall and gate. Neither the one nor the other could they pass, as the Trojans held their own opinions as to the desirability of urban renewal as practiced by their enemies — and (perhaps more importantly) they had the hardware to back up their opinions.

One of the Achaean soldiers who was disgruntledly encamped outside the gates of Troy (I think his name was Xylohippus) came up with the following unlikely idea: why not construct a huge wooden horse, hollow and big enough to contain within a few of their number. They would then present this wooden horse to the Trojans as a “gift” from the general to their city. Once the horse was drawn inside the city, all the team inside had to do was wait until nighttime to emerge, then overpower the gate guards, and open the city gates to a surprise attack.

On reflection, it all seemed fairly absurd — but not nearly as much so as the idea Coprocephalon had about disguising themselves as giant figs (or perhaps rutabagas; ancient texts are unclear and sometimes contradictory on this point) and giving themselves up as offerings to Ceres. So the general wasted no time on reflection and got to work.

To use a phrase popular among worshippers of the Greek Goddess of Victory (Nike), they “went for it.” Never mind where they got the wood; suffice it to say that to this very day, no tree grows within fifteen miles of the site of this story.

Into the belly of the horse (through a cleverly concealed trap-door into which several of the soldiers *flatly refused* to crawl) there went a team of volunteers.

Slowly the other soldiers pushed the horse up the road to the city gates. As the Greek general was about to call out for a parley, the men in the horse started to squirm (it was quite tight in there, and awfully hot in the Mediterranean sun). The rocking motion of the horse was slight, but the crude wooden axles began to squeak alarmingly!

Realizing that the onlooking Trojans might be alerted and made suspicious if they noticed the horse squeaking with no apparent cause, the general quickly made an excuse about having to currycomb it one last time and had his men shove the thing back down the hill.

Once around a corner, he opened up the horse and let the overheated, exhausted men out. As they recuperated, the general realized he *had* to quieten those axles or else admit the ruse’s defeat.

He thought and thought, and then — to the utter consternation of his closest military and engineering advisers — he called in his chief cook! To this man the general barked out a short order (as well he might; the man was a short-order cook).

The cook smiled, nodded in the affirmative, and hurried from the place to the army’s field kitchens. A few moments later, he and his assistants were seen carrying small clay pots of rendered cooking fat to the horse. They poured the goo onto the axles and worked it into the thirsty wood using short, stout sticks.

This done, the general had the volunteers clamber once more into the wooden horse’s innards. Once more the men shoved the huge creature towards the gate. At first the usual squeal sounded out, but as the oily mess worked its way more thoroughly into the wheels things became smoother — and the horse was much easier for the men to push, as a bonus!

Soon enough they arrived once more at the city gates of fabled Ilium (I had to say that just _once_). Thanks to the lubrication, this time as they waited for the defending general to arrive at the gates for a parley, the fidgeting of the soldiers inside the horse produced a little motion but no discernible noise. Those watching from the walls could have no suspicion of what lay in wait! Ha ha!

Sure enough, the Trojans, all unsuspecting, accepted the gift. They pushed it smoothly and easily into the city and closed the gates, thinking themselves safe and secure.

And (as we all know) that night as the inhabitants of Ilium slept, the concealed Greeks opened a secret panel in the horse and crept forth. Stealthily they slew the guards, opened the gates, admitted their companions, and sacked the place.

So it was that by means of a *trick* managed the overthrow of one of the most fabulous cities of the ancient world! Now Troy lies in ruins, barely remembered except by antiquarians such as myself, and perhaps a few of you, my friends… otherwise, it molders forgotten…

Save for this motto, one passed down for millennia, from generation to generation, from language to language, a call of warning against the lubricious stranger with the “deal too good to be true:” … Beware of greased-bearing gifts. (Dr. Jake Katz)


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