"Look a (gift) horse in the mouth"

W Brewer brewerwa at GMAIL.COM
Mon Mar 11 04:40:37 UTC 2013

LH: <<< It seemed like the Trojans *should* have looked their gift horse in
the mouth (at least far down enough to see all those Greek soldiers)>>>

WB: Laocoon tried that and he and his kids got eaten by giant snakes.
(Timeo danaos et dona ferentes. Aeneid 2.49) Lesson: Don't mess around with
a gift to your enemy's goddess. And for god's sake don't drag it home with

     Okay, I'll be in touch with Niall Ferguson about a remake of the
Trojan Horse episode. What if . . . the Trojans had checked out the wooden
horse, killed all the Greeks inside, and lived happily ever after? The end.
Then Troy would never have been razed, Aeneas would never have emigrated to
Latium, and the Roman Empire would never have existed, with none of the
great glories and monuments we have come to love and admire. And Vergil
would have been out of a job.

JB: <<< Larry's comment about Troy . . . Unless he can find a translation
of Homer that dates before 1663.>>>

WB:  Larry would be searching a long time for a reference to the Trojan
Horse in Homer. (They ain't no sich episode. Oh wait, I forgot about Brad
Pitt.) Our tradition comes from Vergil's Aeneid, the Roman epic, giving
Octavius an august pedigree.

Perhaps not coincidentally, for years I had a poster outside my office
depicting Greeks climbing out of the Wooden Horse. I pasted the head of
Hello Kitty onto the horse. I called it: "Hollow Kitty".

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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