Monday, May 10, 2004

The Problem With the Trojans

Hee . . . Belle Waring has a hilarious post over on Crooked Timber about the dissonance between the Trojans of antiquity and the Trojans of modernity (i.e., the University of Southern California, and the ubiquitous condom manufacturer).

Re: USC Trojans.

Now, there is just one story cycle involving the Trojans and conflict, and in it the Trojans decisively, utterly lose. I'm not saying they're losers, per se; I'm always rooting for the Trojans because I love Hector. But imagine a coach giving an inspirational speech along these lines: "Guys, I want to you get out there and fight with all your hearts, only to see all you hold dear destroyed. At the end of this bowl game, I want you to feel like the original Trojans did when the saw their ancestral altar run red with the blood of aged Priam, beheld the pitiful spectacle of little Astyanax's body broken on the walls of Troy, and heard the lamentations of their daughters, mothers and wives as they were reduced to slavery in a foreign land." It's not exactly "win one for the Gipper," is it?

Re: condoms.

What do you think of when you hear the word "Trojan"? . . . Probably, you think: Trojan horse. So consider the context. There's this big...item outside your walled citadel, and you are unsure whether to let it inside. After hearing the pros and cons (and seeing some people eaten by snakes), you open the gates and drag the big old thing inside. Then, you get drunk. At the height of the party, hundreds of little guys come spilling out of the thing and sow destruction, breaking "Troy's hallowed coronal," as they say. Is this, all things considered, the ideal story for condom manufacturers to evoke? Just asking.

Update: I cleaned up this post, by the way, upon noticing that a lot of weird coding got included when I was copying & pasting.