Olympus, the abode of the Gods, is a beautiful place on any day, but on this particular day of the story, there was that extra buzz and glow about it. Thetis the sea nymph was being married off (yes, there is a story hidden in that word) to the mortal hero Peleus. The match maker was none other than Zeus himself, and he spared no cost, to make sure that the event was a resounding success.
Zeus, had personally invited everyone who was anyone to the wedding. Well… not all, for Zeus had not called his own daughter Eris, who was known to bring unpleasantness along wherever she went. It wasn’t really her fault, that she had been made the Goddess of Strife, Discord and Disharmony. What else can you offer when that is your responsibility, your core strength? But Zeus had promised Thetis a glorious hassle free wedding and hence he chose to ignore Eris. It was a big mistake.
Zeus watched as the immortals mingled and networked. Their jewels flashed, their laughter tinkled and their glasses clinked, when suddenly he saw Eris gliding in, with what looked like a present in her hand. It was in fact, a golden apple with ‘For the Fairest’ embossed on it. Zeus watched helplessly as Eris moved towards her mother.
Somebody must have said something very funny for Hera, the first lady of Olympus, Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom, and Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love were all doubled over with mirth. Eris stopped at their table, she watched her mother and her two half-sisters bitterly. Who can blame her, for what she did next? How would you feel if your own father had invited everybody except you to the grand wedding he was hosting? She would show them now. Oh, yes she would!
Eris tossed the apple between the three beautiful Goddesses and watched as each one of them reached for the apple, thinking themselves to be the fairest of all. Eris watched with glee as the camaraderie between the three Goddesses vanished and suddenly they were in competition with one another.
At first Zeus was called to judge who was the fairest of them all. Zeus excused himself on the ground that he could not be objective as he was married to Hera. He called for the mortal Paris, then a goat-herd, who had earned himself the reputation of being a fair man. As soon as Paris came, Hera tried to influence his decision by offering him power over Men and Nations. Athena was not to be outdone, she offered Paris, the power of Wisdom and Good Counsel. Paris was not moved. But when Aphrodite offered him the most beautiful woman in the world, as a bribe, the young man could not resist the offer and gladly handed the apple over to Aphrodite.
As things turned out, the goatherd was really an abandoned prince of Troy, who was soon reunited with his family, while the most beautiful woman on earth was Helen, who was already married to Menelaus, the king of Sparta.
So Paris, a prince of Troy, aided and abetted by Aphrodite, visited, wooed and then promptly eloped with the Helen, the Queen of Sparta. Menelaus, Helen’s husband tried to bring Helen back by peaceful means. But when the prince of Troy refused to do the honourable thing, Menelaus gathered the Greeks together and attacked Troy. Thus started ten long years of bloody war between the people of Troy and the Greeks, in which thousands of lives were lost and which brought untold misery to the lives of the people of Troy.
Zeus, the great God had intended to avoid a little discord and strife, but it resulted in something much larger, it ended in a full blown war. Now, why does that sound familiar?