Trojan Horse by Fabio Morábito, translated by Curtis Bauer


After ten years of unsuccessful siege, the Greeks, apparently, have gone, leaving a huge wooden horse in front of Troy. The Trojans approach, cautiously. For three days they discuss if it is better to bring the horse into the city or set it on fire. Tairis is among them, blind from birth and legendary for his acute hearing. After three days despair spreads among the Greek warriors in the belly of the beast. Thirsty and weak, they have maintained absolute silence for fear of being discovered, especially by Tairis, whom Odysseus knows. At the dawn of the fourth day Tairis hears a sound almost imperceptible coming from inside the horse. He remains motionless. Where and when did he hear something similar? He remembers: as a young man he accompanied his father, a merchant, on a long journey and they visited Ithaca, whose King, Odysseus, received them in his home. He remembers the tinkling sound of the young king’s gold bracelet, he has now heard once again. Tairis goes to speak with King Priam and informs him that Odysseus is inside the horse; with him, he is certain, are other warriors, possibly the very best of the Greek army. The ruse has been discovered. Priam commands him to tell no one. He knows that if word gets out, the horse will be burned and the fire will render the bodies of those hidden inside unrecognizable. He has spent the last ten years imagining the faces of Odysseus, Agamemnon and Menelaus. He wants to see them and, after the cruel treatment that his adored Hector suffered at the hands of Achilles, he wants them to see, that the last thing they see before dying is his face and the splendor of Troy, which resisted their siege. Then he will hang them on the plain and the Greeks, seeing their hanged leaders, will leave forever. He then orders the horse brought into the city. He doesn’t account for the noisy celebration that night erupting in every corner of the city and softening the vigilance of his soldiers. The Greeks manage to slip out of the horse and open the doors. Some say that Odysseus, knowing Priam, jingled his bracelet deliberately.

Fabio Morábito lives in Mexico City and teaches in the Autonomous University of Mexico. He is a celebrated translator from the Italian and the author of more than fifteen books of poetry, short stories, novels and essays, including El idioma materno, from which this sample is drawn.

Curtis Bauer is a poet and a translator of poetry and prose from the Spanish. He teaches creative writing and comparative literature at Texas Tech University.