Imagine that you are attending a party. It’s a lavish affair, and all the beautiful people are there. Everywhere you look, you see stunning women and handsome men laughing, talking, perhaps even flirting. They appear to be enjoying themselves greatly. The wine flows freely, there is dancing and singing, and everyone seems happy. It is a joyful celebration.
Then suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, someone tosses a golden apple. The music stops and everyone pauses. It’s immediately obvious that this is no ordinary piece of fruit. Oh no, this apple is tagged with the words “to the fairest”. How very provocative! You glance around. With all of these exquisite beauties in attendance, you would be hard pressed to decide which one is the fairest.
The first woman who catches your attention has an air of regal authority. She wears a diadem and holds a scepter. You notice that for some strange reason, she is accompanied by a peacock. While she seems imperious, you detect the furtive glances she keeps casting at a particularly dashing man. Oh, that’s right, you remember now - the man is her husband, and he is perhaps getting a little too friendly with some sweet young thing near the bar.
The next woman you are drawn to is a complete contrast to the first. Calm and self-assured, she holds herself slightly aloof from the rest of the party. Any man that dares to approach her is immediately shot down by a glare from those striking grey eyes. However, she does appear to be holding an animated, friendly conversation with a man who is clearly not romantically involved with her. Indeed, they interact as if they are old buddies, joking and exchanging war stories.
Finally, your eyes are drawn to a dazzling, radiant beauty. You didn’t see her initially because she is literally surrounded by an entourage of fawning men and attractive women. She is breathtaking. Although you know it’s trite even to think this, your realize that her smile illuminates the entire room.
Tearing your gaze away from this last woman, it occurs to you that the guests at the party are taking this apple thing rather seriously. They are buzzing about who is most deserving of the prize. Voices are raised. The mood is getting rather contentious. Indeed, arguments have already started to break out. The three women are the focus of all the attention and conversation, and each one of them seems to have a solid claim on the apple.
Then, in order to prevent more mayhem, a man is selected to make the decision about who gets the apple. Truth be told, he has the air of a rustic, as if he is a gentleman who has spent a bit too much time in the country.
Now that we have the setting, let’s explore this scenario in a bit more detail. The party is the wedding of Peleus and Thetis. The beautiful women are goddesses. Literally. Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite to be specific. The man is Paris. But wait, who threw the apple? That is the work of Eris, the goddess of discord.
And this is how the story of what is termed The Judgement of Paris begins.