Judgement of Paris


This famous story from the ancient Greek myths can be understood on a few levels, as with all the other myths. If taken at face value it shows the origin of the Trojan war, the world war of that epoch. The gods are gathered together to celebrate the marriage of Peleus and Thetis, The parents of the great hero Achilles. Everyone is having a most wonderful time. It is a joyous celebration. All the gods and goddesses are in attendance with the exception of one. Eris, The goddess of discord. The fact that she was not invited is another message to us of the great harmony happening at this event. (not to lose our place here it is worth mentioning that this goddess is of course more of the anthropomorphism of the Greek myths. In truth there is no principle of discord in the cosmos. Therefore there is no goddess of discord. Discord is merely the absence of harmony, much in the way that darkness is merely the absence of light.)

But let’s get back to our story. Eris tosses a beautiful golden apple towards Zeus. On it is engraved the words “to the most fair”. Three Olympian goddesses are smitten by the beauty of this golden apple and each would like to possess it. They pleaded with Zeus to choose one of them and give the apple to the fairest. Zeus, wise God that he is, knows that he is in a no-win situation. He has to choose between his wife, Hera, his daughter Athena and his sister Aphrodite. For a while he does nothing. It is Hermes the god of wisdom and intelligence who comes up with a solution.“Dear father this is not a choice you should make as whoever you choose will be offended. Best to delegate this choice to a third-party who is not as close to all three as you are. Leave it to me and I will arrange it.”

“Let it be as you say,” said Zeus. The goddesses also assent to this.

Hermes on his winged feet speeds down to the outskirts of Troy where Paris a young strapping lad is herding his sheep. At that time Paris does not know that he is a prince of Troy. He sees himself as a simple shepherd boy. Under a complicated pretext, which is Hermes’ way, he presents the Apple and the choice to Paris.

Paris can award the Apple to any of the goddesses that he chooses. Hera appears to him and says, “Choose me and I will give you dominion, power and great riches. You will rule an empire.” Paris is awestruck by Hera and her beauty and promise and would have awarded the apple immediately to her. But then Athena came, also stunningly beautiful (all the goddesses are of immortal beauty). She says to him “Give me the apple and I will bestow on you divine wisdom with which you can procure riches, empire and king ship.” Again he would’ve awarded the apple to Athena but just then Aphrodite appears to him. She was more beautiful than his highest dream of beauty. She said “I don’t have kingdoms or riches or power or glory only one thing can I offer, love”. And then she showed him a vision of Helen who is then in a far off land. Helen was not only the most beautiful woman of her generation but also the most beautiful woman of many many generations.“Choose me and Helen will be yours”. The thought of waking up to Helen every day and having her as his wife sealed the deal. Paris awards the apple to Aphrodite. The rest is history.

It seems to me that there is a much deeper message in this story than some thing that happened thousands and thousands of years ago. It is something relevant to today, right now. In a sense, we are all Paris, and we are making choices every day and every hour. The gods, nature, spirit, is offering everything to us but we must choose and we must be bound by our choice. And our choice will have consequences. Choose love, a common choice and wisdom, power and dominion will flee from you. Many are content with that. Choose wisdom, and you could be forced into a life of solitariness, living on the mountain tops of thought. Choose power and dominion and you will have a lifetime of strife and stress. Spirit does not care, choose what you will and deal with the consequences of your choice.