I was sent to Troy in Asia Minor after reports that the Greeks were intending to keep a number of soldiers in a confined space, namely a horse, which sounded like animal cruelty as well as providing cramped working conditions for the soldiers. The idea was that of a Greek called Epeius, a master carpenter and pugilist.
“Epeius, I am Brian from the Health and Safety Time Executive – what is your idea for a horse containing humans?”
“The idea is a straightforward one – we place some men in a horse and then offer the horse as a peace offering. The Trojans take the horse in to the city with our men concealed within. At night, the men would slip out of the horse and open the gates, allowing the rest of us to enter the city.”
“Is this a real horse?” I asked.
“Yes, it is,” Epeius replied.
“How many men are going to be inside the horse?”
“We thought about 40 as we would need plenty of men just in case our boys encountered some resistance from the Trojans.”
“And which horse were you planning on using for this escapade?”
“We haven’t decided yet, but it would have to be a big one that’s for sure.” Epeius spread his arms wide.
“It would and it would have to have plenty of unused room inside it too, so all those men could fit inside without killing the animal.”
“Yes, it would have to walk into the city on its own and not collapse.”
“Well, I can’t allow that to happen – those men would not be able to breathe in there – they’d die due to lack of air. I must serve you with a notice GRDS-72727284 relating to the quality of the air people breathe in their workplace to ensure that you stop this scheme. You should also be charged with animal cruelty as stuffing 40 men inside a horse would kill it almost immediately.”
“Would it, oh dear, well that wouldn’t work, the Trojans would spot that straightaway.” Epeius stroked his chin as if deep in thought.
“Well, you’re a carpenter aren’t you, why not build the Trojans a wooden horse?”
“An artificial horse? Who would fall for that?” Epeius laughed at the ridiculousness of the idea.
“It has to be worth a try, surely, you want to finish this war don’t you? It’s been going on for ten years.”
“Yes, but the Trojans would surely spot that the horse was built from wood?”
“You could say it was a peace-offering or even a token of their victory over you – you could all sail away and hide behind that island on the horizon over there – the Trojans would think you’d all sailed home.”
“Oh I see, very crafty, but we’d then paddle our ships back under cover of darkness and surprise those Trojans.” Epeius looked thoughtful.
“What a great idea – thank you. You are right, I am a carpenter by trade, so I should be able to build something quite quickly. How would it move though?”
“How about wheels?” I suggested.
“Interesting – I was thinking of using some curved pieces of wood so the horse would rock backwards and forwards as it moved along. I think the Trojans might be amused by that.”
“Yes, you have to think about the people inside, they might get horse sick and dizzy if you’re not careful.”
“Yes, they might get all wobbly-legged and not be able to stand up straight, which wouldn’t help them if they were trying to fight against the Trojans.”
“Much better to have wheels, a far smoother ride. The soldiers would likely be less horse-sick when they arrived inside Troy.” My suggestion seemed to convince Epeius.
“And having wheels would make it easier for the Trojans to move the horse, so they’re more likely to take it home with them.”
“I should warn you that under article 6272a of the working environment act, the soldiers are entitled to have a throughflow of air and should have at least two sources of fresh air when inside the horse, as the horse is deemed to be their place of work during the subterfuge.”
“That’s interesting – well in that case I shall have to make the horse anatomically correct in every way, with both a mouth and a hole at the other end under the tail. The tail will have to fan out and cover the hole; I don’t want the Trojans checking to see if there’s anyone in there.”
“Is that what Trojans do then?” My stomach turned at the thought.
“Oh, I should think so, I will have to disguise it well so they can’t see inside, well at least not very far.”
“Well, the best of luck with that idea.”
“Perhaps we could have holes in the ears and eyes, just to increase the ventilation even more? The Trojans might find it difficult to check those as they are so high up.”
“That sounds sensible.”
I left Epeius to his ideas and headed back to the office.
Extract from the Diary of a Health and Safety Executive