Judgment of ParisAn important feast was taking place at the home of the gods and goddesses, Mount Olympus. The evil goddess of Discord, Eris, was angry that she was not invited, so she decided to make trouble. She threw a golden apple into the crowd. On the apple were the words “For the Fairest.”
Of course, all of the goddesses wanted the apple because each believed that she was the fairest. The choices were narrowed down to three: Aphrodite, Hera, and Pallas Athena. The three goddesses asked Zeus to decide which one of them should get the apple, but he refused to have anything to do with the matter.
Zeus told the three goddesses to go to Mount Ida, near Troy, where they would find the young prince Paris. Zeus said that he was an excellent judge of beauty. Paris was a prince, but was doing shepherd’s work outside of Troy because his father, King Priam was warned that Paris would one day be the ruin of his country.
Paris was surprise when he saw the three goddesses. The goddesses each offered Paris a bribe to convince him that they deserved the apple. Hera promised to make Paris Lord of Europe and Asia. Athena promised he would lead the Trojans to victory against the Greeks. Aphrodite promised Paris that the fairest woman in all the world would be his. Paris gave the golden apple to Aphrodite.
The fairest woman in the world was Helen. Every young prince in Greece wanted to marry her. However, Helen was already married to Menelaus, brother of Agamemnon.
Paris traveled to Sparta and was greeted graciously by Helen and Menelaus. Trusting Paris completely, Menelaus left Paris in his home and traveled alone to Crete. When Menelaus returned from Crete, his wife was gone. Menelaus called upon all the men of Greece to help him get Helen back.
Odysseus did not want to leave his home to join the Army and retrieve Helen. He pretended that he had gone mad; when a messenger arrived, he was plowing a field and sewing it with salt instead of seed. The messenger put Odysseus’ son in the direct path of the plow. When Odysseus stopped the plow, it was proven that Odysseus was not crazy, and he was forced to join the Army.
A thousand ships carried the Greek Army to Troy. The war went on for ten years. Neither side was able to win victory over the other. Both sides lost many great warriors. The Greeks knew that they could not defeat the Trojans by force; they would have to find a way to take Troy by surprise.
Odysseus came up with a plan to build a giant wooden horse which was hallow and so big that it could hold a number of men. Several of the Greek warriors, including Odysseus hid inside the giant horse. The Trojans were afraid to destroy the horse because they thought the gods would punish them for destroying a gift, so they pulled the horse into the city.
In the middle of the night, the Greeks snuck out of the horse and into the city streets of Troy. They burned the city’s buildings to the ground and killed the men as they left their burning homes. The Greeks had won.
The Greeks went mad with victory the night they defeated the Trojans. They forgot what was due to the gods, and on their voyage home, they were terribly punished.The Odyssey is the story of one soldier-- Odysseus, a smart Greek--and his return home from war, a journey that lasts more than twenty years.