Trojan War Who's Who

Welcome to the Trojan War. Mythology is not for sissies. If you are under the age of 13, may I strongly suggest you leave now. I'll build a homework section soon, I promise. Honest. (wink wink) Anyway, welcome. You are about to become obsessed. Revel in it.

Zeus and Leda--Helen's Parents?

ZEUS-- The main Greek god, known as Jupiter in the Roman tradition (the planet was named after him, not vice versa) and, all agree, father of Helen, most beautiful woman in the word. Zeus had a bit of a wandering eye, and none (that's right, none) of his famous children were produced by his actual wife, Hera. This may have had something to do with the fact that she was his sister. Ah well, I suppose there weren't many gods around in those days. At any rate, his eyes happened to be wandering about mortal Greece when he ran across Leda. Leda was a lovely queen, already married to the mortal king Tyndareus, and she happened to be bathing. Needless to say, one very rarely wears clothes when bathing, and, of course, Leda wasn't. Of course this got Zeus's attention faster than it woudl have taken him to throw one of his famous thunderbolts, and down he zoomed to earth. To understand what Zeus did next one must remember that he thought women found animals more approachable than, say, men. So, he transformed himself into a swan. What happened next cannot be described delicately, so I shall skip several months (9 to be exact) and anounce the good news-- Leda laid two eggs! (No points for guessing whose.) Unfortunately, matters were a bit more complicated than just Leda laying eggs. Not only did she lay two eggs, but one of the eggs contained children of Tyndareus, her mortal husband, with whom she had also, er, reproduced. The hatchlings in her mortal egg were Clytemnestra (more about her later) and her brother Castor. The hatchlings in her divine egg were the fabulously beautiful Helen and her brother Pollux. Castor and Pollux were twins. Clytemnaestra and Helen were not. Helen was far prettier than Clytemnaestra-- heck, far prettier than any mortal woman. This is what caused all the problems, including the Trojan War. But some disagree...

Who's The Fairest-- Athena, Hera, or Aphrodite?

HERA-- Wife of Zeus, queen of the gods. Very, very powerful. Nice figure, partially due to the fact that she never had to bear Zeus's children since he was too busy having affairs. Did I mention very powerful? ATHENA-- Goddess of Wisdom and war. Very, very powerful. Lovely figure, very athletic, and one of the greatest goddesses around. Very helpful if you're in a war, on a quest, just sitting around drinking nectar, etc. Hates losing. (Trust me. She turned a girl named Arachne into a spider after she made a better weaving. She blinded a guy named Teresias when he happened to see her bathing.) Athena is depicted at right. APHRODITE-- Gorgeous goddess of beauty and love. Has had some children (after consorting with Hermes she bore a child and gave him the original name Hermaphrodite. Her husband Hephaestos had no problem figuring out who the parents were.) Not terribly wise, but gentlemen prefer dumb blondes.

SO, what would you do if you had to choose the fairest among these three? What if Hera offered you dominion over Asia if you chose her? What if Athena promised that you would become the wisest, most talented man alive and the greatest warrior? (I'm assuming you're male.) What if Aphrodite promised you a wife as gorgeous as she? Whatever would you do? Beginning to sympathize with Paris of Troy? He had to make that decision. Ouch.

Who's The Fairest-- Athena, Hera, or Aphrodite?

Eris is the goddess of discord. Not a pleasant gal. She enjoys throwing apples among people to make them hate one another. Always shows up when she's not invited, somewhat like the evil fairy in Sleeping Beauty. (I guess you gotta invite these people.) She threw a golden apple (inscribed "for the fairest") into the midst of the wedding of a mortal, Peleus, and a sea nymph, Thetis (parents of the great hero Achilles.) Guess who fought over it? Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite. You would think that, being the goddess of wisdom and all, Athena would have better sense than that. But nooooooo! She wanted that apple. She really wanted that apple. And of course, Hera, since her husband had lost interest in her before they even had children, wanted to compensate, and Aphrodite, being the goddess of beauty, knew she deserved the prize. What's a god to do? Actually, run and hide someplace. That's what all the wedding guests did when the goddesses wanted them to settle the dispute. That's what Zeus did when these goddesses (Athena being his daughter, Hera his wife, and Aphrodite just being plain gorgeous) asked him to decide between them. So they bided their time. They waited about 18 years-- enough time for several babies to be born, including Achilles and Paris and Helen, enough time for several youths to grow middle-aged and PAUNCHY, like Menelaus, and enough time for a lot of anger to build itself up between them. Then, they could wait no longer. Somebody had to choose. And it wouldn't be Zeus. No, it would be Paris of Troy, the world's most handsome man.