Paris – Catalyst of the Trojan War
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When we hear of the Trojan War hero Achilles, the mythological hero of Homer’s The Iliad, we immediately connect him to the idea of an “Achilles Heel.” In other words, a point of vulnerability. Unless people know the full story, however, they rarely consider the other important person involved in this classic tale: Paris. He ran off with the famous Helen of Sparta, which caused the Trojan War. He also shot the fateful arrow that brought down the warrior hero, Achilles. Here’s more information about him:
Early Life of Paris
Paris was the son of the King of Troy, King Priam, and his wife, Hecuba. Before the baby’s birth, Hecuba dreamed that she would give birth to a “flaming torch,” and a seer predicted that Paris would some day be the downfall of Troy. A herdsman, Agelaus, was assigned to kill the child after his birth, but instead, he left the newborn Paris to languish and die on a mountainside. Instead, Paris was suckled by a bear. Agelaus returned nine days later and was so astonished Paris has survived that he brought him home and decided to raise the child himself. He became a beautiful and intelligent man.
Judgment of Paris
In an important chapter from the life of Paris, Zeus — the top god in the Greek Pantheon — hosted a banquet on Mt. Olympus, where all gods and goddesses were invited. On this day, Paris was chosen by Zeus to select the most beautiful goddess in a competition between Athena, Aphrodite and Hera. They all offered him different things as bribes, but he chose the bribe of Aphrodite, because this goddess offered him the love of Helen, who was considered the most beautiful woman on earth.
The Trojan War
The mythological basis for the Trojan War is the attempt of the Greeks to retrieve Helen from Troy after she had deserted her husband Menelaus — King of Sparta — and run off with Paris. In The Iliad, Homer represents Paris as being a coward with little skill; he is not at all like his rival, the greatest of Greek warriors, Achilles. After a series of failures at battle, finally comes his moment in the sun. Paris, with the help of the Greek god Apollo, sends an arrow into the heel of Achilles, the only weak spot on the body of the man who slayed many in battle, including Paris’ brother, Hector. Later in the war, Paris would be mortally wounded himself and would die, with his arrow and the heel of Achilles his most notable accomplishment.
As it is with most myths, there’s a winner and there’s a loser. Although the mythical Paris caused big things to happen by essentially starting the Trojan War, and then hitting the soft spot of one of the greatest heroes of ancient literature, he has probably lost the battle in terms of historical favor. His story is an important one to tell, especially in relation to the Trojan War.
Categorized in: Greek Mythology
This post was written by GreekBoston.com