Mythology & Beliefs: Laocoön
In Greek and Roman Mythology, Laocoön was the priest of Apollo at Troy; warned against bringing wooden horse into
Troy; destroyed with his two sons by serpents sent by Athena.
Laocoön in Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
（Λαοκόων), a Trojan hero, who plays a prominent part in the
post-Homeric legends about Troy, especially in the Ἰλίον
πέρσις, the substance of which is preserved in Proclus's
Chrestomathia. He was a son of Antenor (Tzetz. ad Lycoph.
347) or of Acoetes (Hyg. Fab. 135), and a priest of the
Thymbraean Apollo, or, according to others, of Poseidon.
(Tzetz. l. c.; comp. Verg. A. 2.201, with Serv. note.) His
story runs as follows :--As the Greeks were unable to take
Troy by force, they pretended to sail home, leaving behind
the wooden horse. While the Trojans were assembled around
the horse, deliberating whether they should draw it into
their city or destroy it, Laocoon hastened to them from the
city, and loudly cautioned them against the danger which it
might bring upon them. While saying this he thrust his lance
into the side of the horse. (Verg. A. 2.40, &c.) The
Trojans, however, resolved to draw it into the city, and
rejoiced at the peace which they thought they had gained at
length, with sacrifices and feasting. In the meantime Sinon,
who had been taken prisoner, was brought before the Trojans,
and by his cunning treachery he contrived to remove every
suspicion from himself and the wooden horse. When he had
finished his speech, and Laocoon was preparing to sacrifice
a bull to Poseidon, suddenly two fearful serpents were seen
swimming towards the Trojan coast from Tenedos. They rushed
towards Laocoon, who, while all the people took to flight,
remained with his two sons standing by the altar of the god.
(Virg. l.c. 229; Hyg. Fab. 135.) The serpents first entwined
the two boys, and then the father, who went to the
assistance of his children, and all three were killed.
(Verg. A. 2.199-227; comp. Q. Smyrn. 12.398, &c.; Lycoph.
347.) The serpents then hastened to the acropolis of Troy,
and disappeared behind the shield of Tritonis. The reason
why Laocoon suffered this fearful death is differently
stated. According to Virgil, the Trojans thought that it was
because he had run his lance into the side of the horse, but
according to others because, contrary to the will of Apollo,
he had married and begotten children (Hygin. l.c.), or
because Poseidon, being hostile to the Trojans, wanted to
show to the Trojans in the person of Laocoon what fate all
of them deserved.
The sublime story of the death of Laocoon was a fine subject
for epic and lyric as well as tragic poets, and was
therefore frequently treated by ancient poets, such as
Bacchylides, Sophocles, Euphorion, Lysimachus, the Pseudo-
Peisander, Virgil, Petronius, Quintus Smyrnaeus, and others.
But Laocoon is equally celebrated in the history of ancient
art, as in that of ancient poetry; and a magnificent group,
representing the father with his two sons entwined by the
two serpents, is still extant. It was discovered in 1506, in
the time of pope Julius II., at Rome, in the Sette Sale, on
the side of the Esquiline hill; and the pope, who knew how
to appreciate its value, purchased it from the proprietor of
the ground where it had been found, for an annual pension,
which he granted to him and his family. This group excited
the greatest admiration from the moment it was discovered,
and may be seen at Rome in the Vatican. Good casts of it
exist in all the museums of Europe. Pliny (Plin. Nat. 36.4,
11), who calls it the masterwork of all art, says that it
adorned the palace of the emperor Titus, and that it is the
work of the Rhodian artists Agesander, Polydorus, and
Athenodorus. He further states that the whole group consists
of one block of marble, but a more accurate observation
shows that it consists of five pieces. Respecting the
excellent taste and wisdom which the artists have displayed
in this splendid work, see Lessing, Laocoon oder über die
Grenzen der Malerei und Poesie ; Heyne, Antiquarische
Aufsätze, ii. p. 1-52; Thiersch, Epochen, p. 322; Welcker,
das Academ. Kunstnuseum zu Bonn, p. 27, &c.
Another personage of the name of Laocoon is mentioned among
the Argonauts. (Apollon. 1.192.) - A Dictionary of Greek and
Roman biography and mythology, William Smith, Ed.
Laocoön in Wikipedia
Laocoön (Λαοκόων [laoˈko.ɔːn], English: /leɪˈɒkɵ.ɒn/), the son
of Acoetes is a figure in Greek and Roman mythology, a
Trojan priest of Poseidon (or Neptune), whose rules he had
defied, either by marrying and having sons, or by having
committed an impiety by making love with his wife in the
presence of a cult image in a sanctuary. His minor role in
the Epic Cycle narrating the Trojan War was of warning the
Trojans in vain against accepting the Trojan Horse from the
Greeks—"A deadly fraud is this," he said, "devised by the
Achaean chiefs!"—and for his subsequent divine execution by
two serpents sent to Troy across the sea from the island of
Tenedos, where the Greeks had temporarily camped....
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