In the high and far-off days when men were heroes and walked with the gods, Peleus, king of the Myrmidons, took for his wife a sea nymph called Thetis, Thetis of the Silver Feet. Many guests came to their wedding feast, and among the mortal guests came all the gods of high Olympus.
The feast was a success, many delicious foods and wines lay across the decorated table. The sound of laughing and merry making filled the great hall. But among the men and gods sat Eris, the goddess of discord. She had not been invited to the great feast for she brought trouble with her everywhere she went; yet here she was, her anger increasing each time she heard a laugh.
'My friends,' began Peleus jumping to his feet with his arm around his beautiful wife. 'It is an honour to have you here on this day. We shall drink until the morning and the morning after that!'
The guests cheered and raised their goblets while chanting 'To King Peleus and Queen Thetis!' before gulping down their wine. Eris sat back in her chair and tossed a golden apple gently in her hand. Although it seemed a little thing at the time, she rolled the apple down the table to where the gods sat.
All fell silent and gazed at the apple's beauty. With one breath, Eris breathed the words 'To the fairest' onto the apple's golden skin before disappearing into the mist which surrounded her.
Then the three greatest of the goddesses each claimed that it was hers. Hera claimed it as wife to Zeus the All-father, and queen of the gods. Athene claimed that she had the better right, for the beauty of wisdom such as hers surpassed all else. Aphrodite only smiled, and asked who had a better claim to the beauty's prize than the goddess of beauty herself.
And that was when the arguing began, the argument became a quarrel, and the quarrel grew more and more bitter, and each called upon the assembled guests to judge between them. But the other guests refused, for they knew well enough that whichever goddess they chose to recieve the golden apple, they would make enemies of the other two.
Although the feast ended, the quarrel did not and it was taken home with them to Olympus. The other gods grew tired of hearing them arguing and bickering. And they wished that the argument would end soon.
Meanwhile, a young herdsman named Paris lived among the oak trees with his lover Oenone. The three goddesses stopped arguing for a moment and took time to gaze down at the young man. For they knew that he was the secret prince of Troy, sent away from his home to die when he was just a babe because it had been said he was the doom of Troy. But the gods had other plans for him and guided a herdsman to the place where Paris had been left to die. From that day, the herdsman raised the babe up as his own.
The goddesses knew that he was the son of Priam and that he had been raised up away from society itself and would not know of the gods. Therefore he would not be afraid to judge between them. So they tossed the apple down to him, and Paris put up his hands and caught it.
After that, the three of them came down, landing before him so lightly that their feet did not bend the mountain grasses, and bade him choose between them, which was the fairest and had the best right to the prize he held in his hand.
'Young herdsman,' began Athene in her gleaming armour and her sword-grey eyes fixed on him. 'I promise you supreme wisdom if you would name me.'
'Young herdsman,' said Hera in her royal robes as queen of heaven. 'I promise you vast wealth and power and honour if you would name me.'
'Young herdsman,' Aphrodite's soft calm voice greeted him, her eyes as blue as deep-sea water and her hair blowing in the gentle wind. 'I promise to give you a wife as fair as myself if you would name me.'
And Paris, intrigued by her beauty, forgot of the other choices and forgot of Oenone in the shadowed oak woods; and he tossed the golden apple to Aphrodite.
Hera and Athene were furious at the fact they had been refused and fled to the skies where they came from. But Aphrodite intended to keep her promise to the young prince.
She made Paris's beautiful herd-bull escape to Troy and Paris, devasted at his loss, followed it. While he was in Troy searching for his bull, his mother Queen Hecuba gazed upon him and knew he was her son. She wept for joy and brought him before the king. Seeing him living and so good to look upon, Priam welcomed him back to the family; forgetting of what had been said when he was a babe.
Paris and Oenone lived together in Troy until news reached Troy of Helen of the Fair Cheeks, the most beautiful of all mortal women. She had been forced to marry Menelaus when she was just sixteen and bore his children. Paris remembered Aphrodite's promise and knew he had to go to Sparta where she lived with her husband the King.
As much as Oenone wept and begged him to stay with her, he felt no pity and set off to Sparta in a ship his father had given him. On the way there, Paris had dreams of Helen's beauty and hoped she would be his like Aphrodite had said so.
When they arrived, Menelaus welcomed them with rich food and wine from all over Greece. As they dined together, Paris grew more and more anxious to meet Helen of Sparta.
Then later in the evening, Helen joined them at the table quietly with her head bowed. Even with most of her face shielded by her golden hair, Paris found her most attractive and struggled to advert his eyes to King Menelaus.
'May I present my wife, Helen,' Menelaus introduced her and her head rose. Their eyes met; Paris could have stared into her eyes all day. There was something about Paris which Helen liked alot, and when he smiled at her, she could not help herself from smiling back.
And that is when it all began, when they first shared a smile, they were doomed with love for eternity. Each day after their meeting they spent together when Menelaus was out hunting. They would stroll through woods together and laugh and talk.
Then came the day Paris had to return to Troy. The two of them stood in the woods and to her surprise, Paris took her hand and caressed it gently.
'Helen, you have stolen my heart and I can't live without you,' he said truthfully and Helen struggled to keep her gasp within her.
'You should not have told me this,' replied Helen. 'For I am another man's wife. And because you have told me it will be the worse for me when you go away and must leave me behind.'
'Honey-sweet, it does not have to be that way. Come with me now to Troy while your husband is away from home. For you and I belong together and should not be parted.'
When Paris said those words, little did he know that soon a war would be brought upon Troy. A war that would never be forgotten and would be written about for years to come.