After warring on the beaches of Troy for over nine years, Calchas induces the leaders of the Danaans (Greeks) to offer the Trojan peoples the so-called Trojan Horse. The Trojan priest Laocoön, however, distrusts it and warns the Trojans not to accept the gift, crying, “Equo ne credite, Teucri! Quidquid id est, timeo Danaos et dona ferentes”, “Do not trust the horse, Trojans! Whatever it is, I fear the Danaans [even if] bearing gifts”. When immediately afterward Laocoön and his two sons are viciously slain by enormous twin serpents, the Trojans assume the horse has been offered at Minerva's (Athena's) prompting and interpret Laocoön's death as a sign of her displeasure. Minerva did send the serpents and help to nurture the idea of building the horse, but her intentions were certainly not peaceful, as the deceived Trojans imagined them to be. The Trojans agree unanimously to place the horse atop wheels and roll it through their impenetrable walls. Festivities follow under the assumption that the war is ended. The scout who has been sent to verify the departure of the Greeks is killed after he discovers the Greek fleet hiding in an obscure harbor.
This phrase is quoted by Captain John Patrick Mason (Sean Connery) and interpreted by Dr. Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage) in the film The Rock, and quoted by Philippe Noiret in the film La Grande Bouffe.