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What happened then is happening again and will happen always (why don’t the Kings read history?)

For those readers, who are not familiar with the Tale of Troy, and for the benefit of those occupying positions of high power, I am venturing to tell the tale briefly in this column.
All of human experience is entrenched in this ancient story which was first put into epic form by Homer around 850-800 B.C. Although ‘the gods’ are its motivators, what it tells us about humanity is basic, even though—or perhaps because —the circumstances are ancient and primitive. It has endured deep in human minds and memories for twenty-eight centuries because it speaks to us of ourselves, not least when least rational. What happened then, is happening again and will happen to us all, from the very beginning until the end of human life upon this earth.
Troy fell at last, after ten years of futile, indecisive, noble, mean, tricky, bitter, jealous and only occasionally heroic combat. As the culminating instrumentality for the fall, the story brings in the Wooden Horse, the episode of which exemplifies ‘policy’ pursued in defiance of self-interest.
The story began with Paris’ abduction of Helen, wife of Menelaus, King of Sparta. A federation of Greek Kingdoms was formed under the command of Menelaus’ brother Agamemnon, to enforce the return of Helen who had been taken to Troy by Paris, the youngest son of King Priam whose eldest son Hector was a warrior of as great an acclaim as Achilles the Greek hero.
When Troy refused to return Helen to the Greeks, war became the only option.
About Helen, the cause behind the war, Christopher Marlowe was to write:
Here’s the face that launched a thousand ships.
And burnt the topless towers of Ileum.
Without going into the details of what transpired over a full decade, I am coming directly to the culmination point.
Odysseus proposed a last effort to take Troy by a stratagem—the building of a wooden horse large enough to hold twenty or fifty (or in some versions as many as three hundred) armed men concealed inside. The plan was for the rest of the army to sail for home, while in fact hiding their ships offshore behind an island.
To the Trojans, the horse was a sacred animal.
They did what Odysseus had planned and expected them to do. The Horse was brought into the city walls.
At night the Trojans celebrated with wanton abandon. When at last heavy with wine, they fell asleep, Odysseus and his men broke out of the Wooden Horse, and spread through the city to open the gates. Thereafter the skies of Troy witnessed one of the bloodiest slaughters of all times.
That’s the story in nutshell. There is a galaxy of characters, each of whom has a purpose and a mission. There are lessons to learn at each turning point of the story. And follies are committed, not accidentally, but as a matter of rule and choice. The first folly on the part of the Trojans is their refusal to return Helen even after it is as clear as daylight that the Greek Naval Might is in the seas and approaching!
And the final folly is the decision to bring the Wooden Horse into the city, despite the warnings of Cassandra, (the daughter of Priam) who had the gift of prophecy.
“Either the Greeks are hiding in this monster.
Or it’s some trick of war, a spy or engine.
To come down on the city. Tricky business.
Is hiding in it. Do not trust it Trojans;
Do not believe this horse. Whatever it may be
I fear the Greeks, even when bringing gifts.
This is not trophy of victory.
It is our doom.
All these warnings went in vain, as the gods had sent a curse to Cassandra. “Your truths will never be trusted—”
How much fact lies behind the Trojan epic?
Archeologists, as we know, have uncovered nine levels of an ancient settlement opposite Gallipoli. Its site at the crossroads of Bronze Age trade routes would invite raids and sack, and account for the evidence at different levels of frequent demolition and rebuilding. One level, containing fragments of gold and other artifacts of a royal city, and exhibiting signs of having been violently destroyed by human hands, has been identified as King Priam’s Troy, and its fall dated near the end of the Bronze Age, around 1200 B.C.
If you happen to go to Turkey visit this place. And then with a sense of pride in your own (Muslim) history remember that in the year 1453, the Trojan posterity under the banner of Islam and the leadership of Sultan Mohammad paid the Greeks back in their own coins. The fall of Constantinople to Turks was also engineered by a mastermind known as Sultan Mohammad the Conqueror.
History has great many lessons to learn from.
If only men in the positions of power, men of Musharraf’s consequential statures had time to open history books!

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