“There’s a free gift of silverware,” said the photographer when quoting his price for our wedding pictures, and so I asked him the number of place settings. He looked at me as one would look at an ungrateful child and admonished me: “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth!” I was young and easily chastened, but as life unfolded, things touted as free or cheap often did prove to be costly. If it seemed too good to be true, it likely was too good to be true.
My sister initially vehemently protested the gift of a car from my parents, saying that it was like getting a free dog. And so it’s proved to be: the vehicle has undergone extensive repairs, and still cannot be trusted on a busy highway. Generally, warning lights are flashing everywhere.
The Trojans were deceived, by the Greek’s gift of a wooden horse, into believing that their enemy had retreated in defeat. As a result, the city of Troy was destroyed when the soldiers hidden inside invaded them. In today’s world, computer viruses have been nicknamed “trojan horse viruses,” because they mislead users into letting others into their systems, to their downfall.
I married into the Prins family of Troy (which in my case, did not involve royalty, and our Troy was only a little hamlet in Southern Ontario.) And we did leave there shortly after Helen moved in across the road. Perhaps that explains my interest in that ancient city. Do only literary people notice these weird little vignettes?
It’s intriguing that concepts and names from ancient tales are part of our world today. Those who don’t know their history can be doomed to repeat it, so perhaps this provides a way to keep their lessons in collective memory.
Their wisdom admonishes you to listen to the experiences of people down through the ages. They tell you to trust your instincts: when something disturbs you in some way, follow up on that feeling. It might be linked to your well-being and maybe even your survival.
They tell you to pay attention to history and the arts, because human nature essentially hasn’t changed. Beware of pride and arrogance, because it can blind you to danger. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Our lives may not be lived on an epic scale, but we still impact ourselves and others with our choices. Solomon’s ancient advice is relevant today:
“Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances.” Proverbs 11:14, MSG