In every family, there’s always someone who starts up a bunch of drama. In the family of the Greek gods, that would be Eris. Eris was the goddess of conflict and dispute, which is basically like being the goddess of pointless arguments that end in fistfights — or even entire Trojan Wars, as we’ll see.
Eris is said to be the child of Zeus and Hera, the king and queen of the gods of Olympus, but in other myths, she’s the daughter of Erebus and Nyx, the king and queen of the darkest night. When she had a son, she named him “Strife” and took him along in her chariot when she and Ares went to war. Bottom line, Eris was a goddess who existed only to start trouble. If there were a deity for Internet trolls, people who post on a comment thread just to stir people up, Eris would be that goddess.
Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to ignore individuals like Eris. One of these times happened during the wedding of Peleus, a Greek king who was marrying Thetis, a sea nymph. All of the A-list Olympian gods had been invited. However, Eris had been left off the guest list on purpose (see: drama queen), and so naturally, she decided to get revenge.
During the party, Eris tossed something into the middle of the crowd: a lovely golden apple marked with the words “For the most beautiful.” Unfortunately, Hera, Aphrodite, and Athena each thought the apple should belong to her, and so — as Eris hoped — they started arguing about who should have the prize. None of the Olympian gods wanted to get involved in this argument, so they got Paris, the prince of Troy, to be an on-the-spot beauty pageant judge.
Each of the goddesses tried to bribe Paris to pick her. Athena promised Paris wisdom; Hera offered power, but Aphrodite tempted Paris with something he couldn’t turn down: the most beautiful mortal woman ever born. Paris awarded Aphrodite the apple and went to claim his prize, but there was a catch. Helen, the world’s most beautiful woman, was already married. When Paris ran away with Helen and took her to his city of Troy to be his wife, Helen’s husband Menelaus vowed to take revenge on the Trojans and mustered a thousand ships to force the Trojans to give her back.
That conflict became known as the Trojan War. It lasted ten years and ultimately resulted in the city of Troy being burnt to the ground. About the only individual who was happy with this turn of events was — you guessed it — Eris. With one apple, she managed to start a decades-long drama.
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