My big beautiful Greek goddess wedding

Mr. Good Judgement Skills

Whoops!

Literally hundreds of alert readers have pointed out that I really made a boo-boo with that last post, The Judgement of Parrots. Turns out, it should have been The Judgement of Paris! Is my face red!

Maybe I should start over.

The Greek gods were different from regular humans—they were immortal and ruled over parts of the physical or mental/emotional world. Kind of like having a super power. The more you read about Greek gods, the more they sound like characters the Marvel guys Jack Kirby and Stan Lee would’ve invented.

For instance, Zeus ruled over the sky (and the other gods); Poseidon ruled over the seas. Ares was the god of war. Athena was the goddess of wisdom; Aphrodite the goddess of love & beauty.

On the other hand, the gods had the same character flaws that mortal humans do. They weren’t necessarily virtuous. They could be petty and vain and selfish and sometimes interfered in mortals’ affairs to further their own interests.

Homer was a blind poet who wrote epic poems, like the Iliad and the Odyssey. They are stories that are set against the Greeks’ wars with the Trojans around 1200 bc. Troy was a city in Turkey. Homer’s poems tell about historical events and include the Greek gods as characters.

According to the myth, the Trojan War started when the mortal Peleus and his sea-goddess sweetheart Thetis got married and invited all the gods to their wedding. Well, all the gods except Eris, goddess of discord. When Eris showed up at the reception the bouncers kept her out. Eris was ticked off, but she knew how to get back at the other goddesses. She tossed a golden apple marked, “To the Most Beautiful” into the crowd. Three goddesses—Aphrodite, Hera and Athena—each said she deserved the apple and started throwing wedding cake and chairs at each other. Zeus stopped the argument by setting up a beauty contest. Paris (a Trojan shepherd known for his good judgment) would pick the most beautiful. The three goddesses agreed. They weren’t above a little bribery, just to be on the safe side. Hera offered Paris power to rule the world and Athena offered him wisdom. But Paris chose Aphrodite, who offered him the love of Helen, the most beautiful mortal woman in the whole world. The only catch was that Helen was already married to Menelaus, king of the Greek city of Sparta. With Aphrodite’s help, Paris stole Helen away from Sparta. This cheesed off Menelaus and he (with the kings of other Greek cities) declared war on Troy—leading to years of slaughter, destruction and the eventual fall of Troy.

Homer’s poems pick up the story from there.

By the way, does any of this remind you of The Sleeping Beauty—and the evil fairy Maleficent who wasn’t invited to a christening?

5 responses to “My big beautiful Greek goddess wedding

  1. Nice synopsis, John! Classical mythology is incredibly complex and multi-layered, fraught with deep superstition and political metaphors. Ever read the frighteningly analytical work of Robert Graves and Raphael Patai? BTW, I loved your typo, ‘The Judgement of Parrots’; what a cool idea/title for a mythological satire! There is actually an old folktale about an African grey parrot and a beauty contest nicely told by local African storyteller Temujin Ekunfeo!

  2. Thanks, Ilene! I met Temujin Ekunfeo a few years ago at one or another arts festival up here in northwestern Pennsylvania. I wasn’t aware of that folktale—but who knows? Maybe he told it and I absorbed it subconsciously and it came out last week as a smart-alecky Greek mythology joke. You remember my old African Grey, Sherman, who used to sing, “I love parrots in the springtime, I love parrots in the fall…”

    • I sure do remember Sherman, your African Grey! What a little trickster! Loved your story about how he perfectly imitated your voice and fooled your dog into thinking someone was at your door!

  3. Pingback: The future! | John Manders' Blog

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