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Have you ever noticed that, if something really frightening happens, no matter how long ago, you can remember every detail as if it happened yesterday? That's the way Aeneas remembers the last day of Troy before the Greeks destroyed it. Aeneas' story in Book II falls into three basic parts. First, he describes how the Greeks tricked the Trojans into letting them into the city. Second, he describes the desperate final battle to save Troy. Finally, he tells how he escapes from the burning city with his family. An important thing to remember about this Book (and Book III) is that the story is told from Aeneas' point of view. You are about to experience that last dreadful day as though you were there-inside Aeneas' head.
First here is some background. The Trojan War started because Paris, a Trojan, seduced Helen, who was married to a Greek named Menelaus, and took her back to Troy. The Greeks then attacked the Trojans. When Aeneas begins his story, both sides are exhausted. The Greeks have been camped outside the Trojan walls for ten years, unable to get inside. But the Trojans can't drive the Greeks away, either. The result is a stalemate.
Then one morning the Trojans look over their walls and the Greeks are gone! In their place they've left a giant wooden horse. The Trojans throw open the gates and rush out, wild with joy.
In fact, the Greeks aren't gone at all. Some of them are hiding on a nearby island, Tenedos, where they've hidden their ships. The rest are hiding in the hollow belly of the huge horse-waiting.
An ironic twist in the story is that one of the Trojans, Laocoon, warns that the Greeks are probably hiding inside the horse, but no one listens to him. Instead, the Trojans believe the story of a Greek named Sinon, who deliberately allowed himself to be "captured." Sinon tells them that if they destroy the horse, the gods will be furious and Troy will be destroyed. If, on the other hand, they bring the horse inside the city walls, Troy will conquer the Greeks.
We believed him, we Whom neither Diomede nor great Achilles Had taken, nor ten years, nor that armada, A thousand ships of war. But Sinon did it By perjury and guile.