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Laocoön

Laocoön (lāŏkˈōŏn) [key], 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.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Folklore and Mythology


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