Zeus held a banquet in celebration of the marriage of Peleus and Thetis. Eris, the goddess of discord, as not invited, threw a golden apple (The Apple of Discord) on the floor upon which was the inscription “for the fairest one”. Hera, Athena and Aphrodite all claimed the apple and asked Zeus to judge who was the fairest. He however refused to take part in this and asked Hermes to guide the three goddesses to Mount Ida to find the Shepard-prince Paris who would decide for them.
Hera offered to make Paris King of Europe and Asia, Athena offered wisdom, beauty and skill at war and Aphrodite offered the love of the world’s most beautiful woman, Helen. Paris chose Helen’s love and gave the apple to Aphrodite. Refusing to hear the oracle about the fall of Troy, Priam nominated Paris ambassador to the King of Sparta Menelaus. Paris seduced his wife, the beautiful Helen who fell madly in love with him.  Paris then proceeded to run away, stealing both King Menelaus’ fortune and wife. After different adventures they fled to Troy. Menelaus mobilized the Greek princes to form an arly to free his wife, and chose Agamemnon to lead this army. These Greek princes had formed an alliance at the request of Tyndare, the father of Hélène, who had followed the wise advice of Uylsse, to choose the suitors for his daughter.  The story of the Iliad by Homer starts in the 10th year of this war.
From the Middle Ages to the 20th century this mythological story has been greatly represented in the arts all over Europe.

 

  • photo 1: P.P. Rubens, "The Judgment of Paris", circa. 1639, museo del Prado, Madrid.
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