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Origins of the Trojan War

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					Origins of the Trojan War
  Background for the epic poem
          The Iliad by Homer
                              Origins of the Trojan War
Thetis was a sea nymph, whose beauty captured the heart of Zeus. However, it was told to Zeus that it was Thetis' fate to have a son who
would be far more powerful than his father. Because of this, no god could marry her because her son would grow so powerful that he could
overthrow Zeus, as Zeus had overthrown Cronus. In order to prevent this from happening, it was decided that Thetis would marry an
ordinary mortal. The chosen mortal was Peleus. He was the son of Aecus, who was the son of Zeus.

The occasion of the wedding between Peleus and Thetis was a time of great celebration. All of the gods attended except Eris, the goddess
of discord, and the daughter of Zeus and Hera. Understandably enough, nobody liked Eris as she was always causing trouble. Because of
this, she was rarely asked to attend important Olympian events.

Furious at having been left off of the invitation list again, Eris decided to make trouble. Into the banquet hall at Peleus' and Thetis'
wedding, Eris threw a golden apple, marked "For the Fairest". Of course, all of the goddesses wanted to claim it, the choice was narrowed
down to the three most powerful and beautiful goddesses: Aphrodite, Hera, and Athena. Wisely, upon being asked to judge to whom the
apple should go, Zeus refused to choose. No god wanted to be a part of this decision. So, it was decided that the only thing to do would be
to put judgment on a mortal whose judgment the goddesses would agree to accept.

Zeus suggested the choice be made by a young man who was a superb judge of beauty, by the name of Paris. Paris was the son of King
Priam of Troy, but he had been ordered to leave the city because of a prophecy that someday he would bring misfortune to his country
and its people. Thus, he was presently working as a shepherd. Paris was very handsome, as any god, but he lacked intelligence and
tactfulness. For if he had very much intelligence, he would have refused to be such a judge.

The three goddesses appeared in the meadow where he was guarding his sheep. None of the three goddesses left the choice up to their own
personal merits. Instead, they began to bribe Paris in order to win the apple. Hera promised him the status of lord of Europe and Asia for
the apple. Athena said that she would make him a great warrior for the prized apple. The third goddess, Aphrodite, promised Paris the
most beautiful woman in the world for his bride if he were to choose her as the "fairest".

Paris, being more interested in women than riches of being a lord or the status of a great warrior, chose Aphrodite. Hera and Athena were
greatly offended, which led them to be deadly enemies of both Paris and of Troy. This was only the beginning of Paris' problems, as the
most beautiful woman in the world was Helen, whom was already married. Aphrodite, not being much on marriage and faithfulness, took
Paris to Sparta to meet Helen, who immediately fell in love with Paris. They fled Sparta to the city of Troy. When Helen's husband,
Menelaus, came home to find the two had eloped, he called on all of Helen's suitors to help him attack Troy and kill Paris.

Thus, from the wedding of Peleus and Thetis and the golden Apple of Discord thrown by Eris, we have the beginnings of the Trojan War.


                                       Background for the epic poem The Iliad by Homer
            Origins of the Trojan War
Eris: The goddess of Dischord and Strife
Angry at being snubbed by not getting
invited to the wedding of Peleus and
Thetis, Eris throws down a golden apple
into the midst of the wedding guests.
The golden apple was labeled “to the
fairest”… Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite
all goddesses… claim the prize. Paris,
the son of Priam and prince of Troy,
was chosen to decide. Paris chooses
Aphrodite (the goddess of love) because
she promises him the love of the most
beautiful woman in the world.

               Background for the epic poem The Iliad by Homer
             Origins of the Trojan War

Helen: The face that launched a 1000 ships
Helen was already married to Menalaus
(The Spartan King). Paris is a visitor
who woos Helen and takes her back to
Troy. Agamemnon (King of all Greeks)
and Menalaus‟s brother leads all the
Greeks in an attack and seige on Troy…
The Trojan War.




                 Background for the epic poem The Iliad by Homer
            Origins of the Trojan War
Achilles: Hero of the Iliad and
greatest Greek warrior
Achilles is the son of Peleus and
Thetis… Thetis is a sea goddess
and she dipped her infant son in the
river Styx to protect him from
harm. She held him by the heel and
this is his vulnerability… „achilles
heel‟.




                Background for the epic poem The Iliad by Homer

				
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