The Gifts of Foes Are No Gifts

ΑΠΟ: mmichalar - Μαρ• 14•16

φοβού τους Δαναούς

By Alikie Marouga

«Beware of the Greeks bearing gifts»  is the English translation of the Greek phrase «φοβοῦ τούς Δαναούς και δῶρα φέροντας». It is basically a reminder  to be cautious when an old enemy offers presents or makes favours.

The meaning of this phrase is found in Sophocles”  tragedy «Aias.» When the hero realizes the harm he has caused by slaying his fellow warriors in the Greek camp, he curses his sword which an old foe of his-the Trojan prince Hektor- had given him as a present.

Four centuries later, the Roman poet Virgilios in his epic «Ainiada» has the Trojan seer Laokoon warning his compatriots not to accept within Troy’s walls the wooden horse the Greeks had left as a gift  by saying to them prophetically «timeo Danaos et dona ferentes.»

Although the enemies’ identity changes in the ancient epics depending on the poet’s point of view or nationality, we can leave the enmity of Greeks and Trojans behind but still hold on to this piece of sensible advice: don’t trust easily the people who have hurt you in the past.

…and now.