The god Ares took the form of a bull and won a contest of strength against a majestic beast belonging to Paris, son of the King of Troy. The mortal’s grace in defeat impressed Zeus, but Paris (and many others) came to regret his new-found reputation on Olympus for sporting behaviour.
WHEN Peleus, prince of Aegina, married the sea-nymph Thetis, the wedding was attended by many gods and goddesses. Eris, goddess of Discord, was not invited; however she slipped in anyway, bringing a golden apple from the Garden of the Hesperides.
She wrote ‘For the fairest’ on it, and lobbed it into the wedding-party.
After the apple’s discovery and some bruising debate, most agreed that one of Hera, Athene, and Aphrodite must be the intended recipient. They turned to Zeus, who hastily passed the decision onto Paris, currently Olympus’s most respected referee.
Paris’s reputation for impartiality did not prevent Hera offering him all Europe, or Athene promising him glory in battle.
But it was Aphrodite’s promise of Helen, Queen of Sparta and the world’s most beautiful mortal woman, that won her the prize.
Hera in particular was outraged. When Paris stole Helen from Sparta and took her to Troy, Hera did not rest until she had brought Peleus’s son Achilles in war to his gate.