Sunday, July 13, 2014

TFBT: Paris’ Three Naked Goddesses, My Three Hypothetical Questions

Considering what the Cypria has to says it is pretty clear what the Will of Zeus is; FRAGMENT 3: PLAN OF ZEUS Scholiast on Homer, Il. i. 5:

`There was a time when the countless tribes of men, though wide- dispersed, oppressed the surface of the deep-bosomed earth, and Zeus saw it and had pity and in his wise heart resolved to relieve the all-nurturing earth of men by causing the great struggle of the Ilian war, that the load of death might empty the world. And so the heroes were slain in Troy, and the plan of Zeus came to pass.'”


Zeus also makes comments which imply that we have some freewill;

Ah how shameless--the way these mortals blame the gods.
From us alone, they say, come all their miseries, yes,
but they themselves, with their own reckless ways,
compound their pains beyond their proper share
(Odysseus 1.37-40).


The kick off to the Trojan War is when strife arrived at the wedding reception of Achilles parents.  Strife rolled an apple into the midde of the room.  Written on the golden apple was “For the Fairest”  Three goddesses; Aphrodite, Athena and Hera  claimed the prize and the mortal  Paris wasappointed judge.  He awarded the apple to Aphrodite and…the rest is history. All that being the case; here are my questions. 

  • How would the Will of Zeus come to pass if Paris gave the apple to Athena rather than Aphrodite?  Athena offered him the rule of Phrygia and the destruction of Hellas, or as some say, that he would be bravest of mortals and skilled in every craft.  
  • Hera rather than Aphrodite?   She  offered him, wealth and  dominion over the known world.  In the Iliad she is willing to destroy her favorite cities of Argos, Sparta and Mycenae to attain her ends.  What else would she do to attain the golden apple?
  • And how would Achilles the strongest and most handsome man in the world fit into Zeus back up plans?




  1. I don't think there would be real difference between the choice of Athena and that of Hera. To me, they are doubles in this situation, like the two elder brothers in folklore or the two elder daughters of King Lear.
    So, if Paris had chosen any of these two goddesses, she would install him on the throne. This would require removal of Priam, of his eldest son Hector, and maybe some of the other sons. We can imagine a dynastic struggle of the sort known from the house of Atreus.
    Anyway, Paris becomes king of Troy and starts a war against Hellas. The Greeks resist, helped by the other rejected goddess (Hera or Athena). What role would Achilles have? Maybe he would again quarrel with another commander and temporarily secure victory for the enemy. How would he win kleos? Hector would not be there to be killed by him, so maybe Pentesilea would have a more important role. And at the end, I guess, he would again be killed at some gate by Paris.
    The Dioscuri may be more important than in the current mythology. Maybe Zeus created Helen in case Paris chooses Aphrodite, and the Dioscuri in case Paris chooses Hera or Athena. Because now what is their function? Just to rescue their sister from Theseus and to die ingloriously after quarrelling with their accomplices over some stolen cattle. Nice destiny for king's sons, and even more for Zeus' sons. In my interpretation, they are born just because the first attempt of Zeus to conceive the Fatal Beauty results in male twins instead.
    Helen, however, could again have an important role. My suggestion: Paris marries Chryseis (the only well-known Trojan woman who is not his close relation). After destroying Mycenaean Greece with his "Sea People" army, he takes Helen as booty. On the return journey, most Trojans die in shipwrecks. Paris, however, survives just to suffer the revenge of Aphrodite. As he brings Helen home, jealous Chryseis invites him to the bath and kills him.

  2. Maya,
    I like the ideal that Helen causes a civil war in the orient. With out the oath of Tyndareus it coukd have happen among the Greeks. Interesting idea of no Hector. Would there be an Aeneas and Aeneid? Would there be a Rome? Fun conversation!

  3. I wonder why Aeneas was included in the Greek epic. Despite the prophecy of his future importance which forces Poseidon to intervene to save his life in the Iliad, he seems to disappear after the fall of Troy. We do not see Troy rebuilt in any form with Aeneas at the helm, as the prophecy predicted. This omission allowed the Romans to "adopt" Aeneas.
    Anyway, if Aeneas should be there for whatever reason, I don't see why not to keep him in the alternative myth. Aphrodite, while supporting the Greeks, would take care of her son whenever the heat becomes too strong.

  4. Maya,

    The whole Aeneas myth amazes me. The scene discussing the fact that his death at Troy is "beyond destiny" is so tiny and insignificant. Any yet from that minor event in the Iliad leaves room for the Aeneid and all the royal genealogies in Europe to claim descent from the Trojans. If there really was an epic song for Aeneas, how come it didn't surface until Virgils time? Is it possible that Homer sang the pre-Virgilan Aeneid? The "beyond destiny" scene was a plug for that possible performance? Who would be the audience for that?


  5. Possibly there was another Aeneid (or Aeneids) that was lost.
    BTW, talking about Paris gaining power over Troy, I remembered something from the Wikipedia Trojan War page:
    "While the identification of Wilusa with Ilium (that is, Troy) is always controversial, in the 1990s it gained majority acceptance. In the Alaksandu treaty (ca. 1280 BC) the king of the city is named Alaksandu, and Paris's name in the Iliad (among other works) is Alexander."
    So maybe Paris chose Hera or Athena after all!

  6. Maya,

    Thanks for the reference on Paris/Alexander. Oddly he is one ofthefew characters in the Iliad with two names. Bill

  7. I have just found out that king Alaksandu has his own Wikipedia page. It is short but gives some amazing information:
    - Three deities were listed as witnesses of the treaty, one of them named "Apaliunas" - apparently Apollo, the supporter of Trojans. Some connect his origin to Aplu, Hurrian god of plague. (As far as I know, Mycenaean tablets of that time list "Paean" but not Apollo. And now I remember that in the Iliad, wounded gods were treated by Paean while Apollo was specialized in killing mortals by bioweapon.)
    - The Hittite king "in his letter downplays the importance of royal ancestry, suggesting that Alaksandu had come to power by other means than regular succession."

  8. Maya,
    Apollo and family are closely linked with Phrygia, so maybe Apollo is a syncthesis of Apaliunus and Paean. I'll check out Alaksandu's website. I'm interested in seeing who the other two gods are?


  9. The first one is "the Storm-god of the Army", the second one is unfortunately unreadable, and "Appaliunas" comes third.

  10. Maya,

    Wow! The Storm-God of the Army; do titles get better than that?


  11. I am thinking of Ares, another Trojan ally; but the title sounds too majestic for him.