Yesterday, we discussed how emotions affect the human brain through storytelling. Today, I will cover the second principle of Aristotle’s storytelling principles—Credibility. Credibility means: The quality of being trusted and believed in. According to Aristotle this attribute composed 20% of the presentation.
I could safely say; most people have heard about the Trojan War. The Greek warrior hero, Achilles, and the Trojan champion, Hector. The Trojan war lasted 10 years, about the same amount of time the U.S. was at war with Vietnam. In both cases, at least according to, “The Post,” the American military knew they weren’t going to win. The Greeks had the same idea. They hoped to starve out Troy, but it didn’t work.
Both sides, at the end of ten years, left the enemies shores. America returned to rebuild. The Greeks returned to destroy the city and plunder all of Troy’s wealth. If I ask people how did the Greeks win most will say, “They built a wooden, and the Trojans brought it into their city—and the rest is history.
The what, the wooden horse, and the how, bringing the horse in, are well known, but no one knows the why? What convinced the Trojans to bring in the horse? The answer came from one man who used a Strategic Story to convince the Trojans to bring the horse in. In fact, the man’s name was written into Shakespeare’s plays, he was placed in the 8th level of Hell in Dante’s Inferno, and Niccolò Machiavelli described him in his book, “The Prince.” Who was he? A Greek officer named Sinon.
Homer made it clear in his story, “The Iliad and Odyssey,” that Sinon was the real hero. After ten years of failing to breach the wall, Sinon came upon an idea. Build the horse, which was a symbol of Troy, and put into its belly 30 soldiers.
Problem #1: How do we get the horse in?
Problem #2: What if the Trojans burn the wooden horse?
Sinon had a plan. The Greek ships would leave and leave only him behind, half naked, no weapons. He would tell a strategic story and get the Trojans to move the great horse into the city.
When the Greeks left, Trojan scouts reported back to palace. All came out cautiously. Sinon waited patiently by the horse. The Trojans approached slowly. When finally confronted, Sinon told them he had deserted. He told them that the horse was built to the gods to protect the Greek voyage home. Sinon went further to tell them to burn the horse because any city protecting the horse would prosper from the gods.
Sinon was tortured and yet held to his story. Finally convinced he was telling the truth they embraced him and took both him and the horse in. The emotions established, and now the credibility had been confirmed.
Even though the story centers on deceit, a fact of war, without Sinon’s credibility Troy wouldn’t have disappeared. Tomorrow, Logic brings it all together.