Eris and the Origins of the Trojan War

In archaic Greek epic tradition, the Trojan war’s origins lie with Eris, the goddess of discord.

For self-evident reasons, Eris was left off the guest list for the wedding of Thetis, a sea nymph, and Peleus, a mortal king. But she managed to make mischief anyway, by tossing an apple among the guests bearing the legend, “for the most beautiful.” Hera, Aphrodite, and Athena each assumed the apple was for her, with Paris (a Trojan prince) eventually summoned to make the judgment. He chose Aphrodite because she promised him the love of the most beautiful woman in the world. This would turn out to be Helen, wife of Spartan king Menelaus.

This image in the photo is from the bottom of a mid-6th century Athenian drinking cup (kylix). Presumably, the drinker would consume the beverage and be confronted with Eris…how potentially apropos! I took this picture back in February at the British Museum’s Troy exhibit, though the artifact is part of Berlin State Museums’ collection.

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