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Laocoön

Laocoön (lāŏk´ōŏn), in Greek mythology, priest of Apollo who warned the Trojans not to touch the wooden horse made by the Greeks during the Trojan War. While he and his two sons were sacrificing to Poseidon at the seashore, two serpents came from the water and crushed them. The Trojans interpreted this event as a sign of the gods' disapproval of Laocoön's prophecy, and they brought the wooden horse into the city. Subsequent events vindicated Laocoön's judgment, however, since the horse was filled with Greeks, who waited until night and then sacked Troy. A magnificent Greek statue by Agesander, Athenodorus, and Polydorus, unearthed in Rome in 1508 and now in the Vatican, shows Laocoön and his sons in their death struggle. This Hellenistic sculpture had an important influence on the artists of the Renaissance.

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Laocoön

Laocoön

In Greek and Roman mythology, Laocoön was a seer and priest of the god Apollo* in the ancient city of Troy*. He played a notable role in the last days of the Trojan Warf and met a violent death with his twin sons, Antiphas and Thymbraeus.

Toward the end of the Trojan War, the Greeks placed a large wooden horse before the gates of Troy. Laocoön hurled a spear at it and warned the Trojans not to bring the horse into the city. He said, "I fear the Greeks even when they offer gifts." Soon afterward, the Trojans ordered Laocoön to sacrifice a bull to the god Poseidon*. While he was making the sacrifice near the sea, two great serpents emerged from the water and crushed Laocoön and his sons to death. The Trojans interpreted this event as a sign of the gods' disapproval of Laocoön's prophecy, and they brought the horse into the city, an action that led to their downfall. Hiding inside the horse were Greek soldiers, who opened the gates of Troy at night, allowing the Greek army to enter and destroy the city.

seer one who can predict the future

prophecy foretelling of what is to come; also something that is predicted

epic long poem about legendary or historical heroes, written in a grand style

Some stories say that the death of Laocoön and his sons was punishment from Athena* or Poseidon for warning the Trojans against the wooden horse. This is the reason given in the Aeneid, an epic by the Roman poet Virgil. According to other legends, however, Apollo sent the serpents to kill Laocoön as punishment for an earlier wrongbreaking his vow to the god that he would never marry or have children.

See also Animals in Mythology; Greek Mythology; Roman Mythology; Seers; Serpents and Snakes; Trojan War.

* See Names and Places at the end of this volume for further information.

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"Laocoön." Myths and Legends of the World. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Laocoon

Laocoon in Greek mythology, a Trojan priest who, with his two sons, was crushed to death by two great sea serpents as a penalty for warning the Trojans against the Trojan Horse. A marble sculpture in the Vatican Museum, attributed by Pliny to Agesander, Athenodorus, and Polydurus of Rhodes, depicts the death of Laocoon and his sons, and in allusive use his name often reflects the idea of someone struggling within enveloping coils.

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"Laocoon." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Laocoon." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved October 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/laocoon

Laocoon

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