Greek MythologyMythology

Golden Apple

Apples feature in a lot of stories and folklore. The most famous one is probably the golden apple that started the Trojan war. Eris, the goddess of discord, took a golden apple, wrote “τῇ καλλίστῃ” (to the most beautiful) on it, and threw it into a group of goddesses: Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite. They all wanted it, claiming the title of “most beautiful” for themselves, so they had this sort of ancient beauty contest, for lack of a better term.

The judge was a man named Paris, a prince of Troy. Each goddess promised him various things in order to be declared the most beautiful. Aphrodite won. She promised him a woman, Helen, the most beautiful woman in the ancient world. Aphrodite took Helen and gave her to Paris. Whether this was a choice on Helen’s part or whether she was taken against her will varies by source.

There was a problem, aside from the obvious issues with kidnapping. Before she was “Helen of Troy,” she was “Helen of Sparta,” married to the Spartan king, Menelaus, a man of tremendous power and influence. This resulted in Sparta and various other Greek city-states declaring war against Troy and laying siege to the city, ultimately ending in the death of several heroes (the Iliad) and in a much later story, the founding of Rome (Aeneid).

All this over an apple.

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