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The Trojan War

 

The Fairest of All

 

Early Greece is probably most famous for a long and bloody war. The war

took place between Greece and the city of Troy. It was called the Trojan

War. Here is how it began. Up on Mount Olympus, the gods and goddesses

were having a party. A rather mean goddess named Eris (EAR -iss) was not

asked to the party. This made her very angry. So Eris waited outside the

party with a golden apple in her hand. On it she wrote, "For the

fairest." She threw the apple into the middle of the party.

 

Each goddess believed she was the fairest. All of them wanted the apple.

The gods at the party decided that one of three goddesses must be the

fairest. These were Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite. Hera was queen of the

gods and the wife of Zeus. Athena was the goddess of wisdom and the

daughter of Zeus. Aphrodite was the goddess of love and beauty.

 

"You pick among us," the three goddesses begged Zeus. "Who is the

fairest of us all?"

 

"You are all beautiful," said Zeus. "I will not choose. There is a fine

young man named Paris. He is the son of King Priam (PRY-um) of Troy. I

shall send the three of you to him. He will decide who should get the

golden apple."

 

Paris was off in the hills keeping his fathers sheep. The King had sent

him there because the gods had told him that Troy would be destroyed

because of Paris. The king felt it was the best to send his son away.

 

What a surprise for Paris when three goddesses appeared before him! They

did not ask him who was the fairest. Rather, each goddess told him what

she would give him if he picked her.

 

"I will give you all of Europe and Asia," promised Hera, the queen of

the gods.

 

"I will give you the mind to win a war someday!" promised Athena, the

goddess of wisdom.

 

"I will give you the fairest woman in the world!" promised Aphrodite,

the goddess of love.

 

Paris did not want power or wisdom. He wanted love. He gave the golden

apple to Aphrodite.

 

"The fairest woman is Helen," she said. "She is married to Menelaus

(Men-uh-LAY-us), the King of the Greek city of Sparta."

 

Paris headed for Sparta. He did not know then about a promise made among

the men of Greece.

 

The promise came about when Helen's father was trying to choose her

husband. She was so beautiful that her father was afraid. If he chose

one man, the others would be angry. They might go to war against the one

he chose.

 

So all the men made a promise. All of them would help Helens husband if

anyone tried to steal her away. Helen married Menelaus. The other men

kept their promise. They would help him if he needed it.

 

When Paris got to Sparta, he went to visit Helen and Menelaus. They

brought him into their home and were very nice to him. Then Menelaus had

to go away. While he was gone, Paris and Helen fell in love and ran away

together.

 

When Menelaus returned, his beautiful wife was gone. He called upon the

men of Greece to help him get her back. They all set off for Troy to

find Paris and bring Helen home. Paris had no idea what his city would

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