Judgement of Paris

The judgement of Paris led to the Trojan War. It also led to some of the finest works of art ever created.

The story of the Trojan War begins at the wedding of Achilles’s parents, Thetis and Peleus.

All the gods are invited to the wedding except one: Eris, the goddess of discord. But this doesn’t stop her from leaving her mark on the occasion. Instead of attending the wedding, Eris plucks a golden apple from the Garden of Hesperides, writes “To the fairest one” on it, and tosses it inside the wedding ceremony.

Three goddesses – Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite – each claim that the apple is meant for herself. When they ask Zeus to settle the matter, and decide who is the fairest, he suggests that they ask a Trojan shepherd named Paris.

So Hermes leads them to Mount Ida.

Here Paris is confronted with three gods, each wanting the golden apple, each offering Paris something in return for judging her the fairest. Hera offers Paris political power over Europe and Asia. Athena offers Paris neverending victories on the battlefield. Aphrodite offers Paris the most beautiful woman in the world.

The judgement of Paris is to award Aphrodite the apple. This leads to Helen and Paris eloping, Agamemnon launching a thousand ships, Odysseus building the Trojan Horse, and eventually Helen sailing back home to Sparta with her husband Menelaus.

Above is a 1904 painting by Enrique Simonet titled El Juicio De Paris, and below are are some other classic renditions of the world-famous scene.

4th-3rd century BC engraving on the back of an Etruscan bronze mirror by unknown artist

1st century AD mosaic by unknown artist

c. 1485-1488 painting by Sandro Botticelli

c. 1510-1520 print by Mercantonio Raimondi, after Raphael

c 1550s painting by Frans Floris

c. 1600 painting by Hans Rottenhammer

c. 1638 painting by Peter Paul Rubens

c. 1645-1646 painting by Claude Lorrain

c. 1710-1720 painting by Michele Rocca

c. 1808 painting by Francois-Xavier Fabre

c. 1812 painting by Guillaume Guillon Lethiere

c. 1862-1864 painting by Paul Cezanne

c. 1906 painting by Eduard Lebiedzki

1908-1910 painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir