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Paris (also known as Alexander or Alexandros), was a prince of Troy, son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba and the younger brother of Hector. He is best known for his elopement with Helen of Troy, queen of Sparta, which served as the catalyst of the Trojan War. Later in the war, he fatally wounds Achilles by shooting him in the heel with an arrow, as foretold by Achilles' mother, Thetis.
The Trojan War
Just before his birth, his mother dreamed that she gave birth to a flaming torch. This dream was interpreted by the seer Aesacus as a foretelling of the downfall of Troy, and he declared that the child would be the ruin of his homeland. On the day of Paris' birth it was further announced by Aesacus that the child born of a royal Trojan that day would have to be killed to spare the kingdom, being the child that would bring about the prophecy. Though Paris was indeed born before nightfall, he was spared by Priam; Hecuba, too, was unable to kill the child, despite the urging of a priestess of Apollo. Instead, Paris' father prevailed upon his chief shepard, Agelaus, to remove the child and kill him. The herdsman, unable to use a weapon against the infant, left him exposed on the slopes of Mount Ida, hoping he would perish there; he was, however, suckled by a she-bear. Returning after nine days, Agelaus was astonished to find the child still alive, and brought him home in a backpack to rear as his own. He returned to Priam bearing a dog's tongue as evidence of the deed's completion.
Paris is the one who caused the Trojan War to occur with the Trojans fighting against the Greeks. Before the Trojan War began, he was appointed by Zeus to judge the goddesses Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite on was the fairest, thus giving to the winner the golden apple. Each of them promised Paris something, Hera offered him power, Athena offered wisdom, and bravery to be the greatest warrior while Aphrodite offered the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen of Troy. Thus he chose Helen. However, Helen was already married to King Menelaus of Sparta. When Paris eloped, or abducted Helen, Menelaus, in accordance of an oath in which all of Helen's suitors (before she was married) swore before Tyndareus, Helen's father, and King of Sparta, to defend the marriage to the man that Tyndareus will chose for Helen, obligated them to bring her back to Menelaus. Some came voluntarily, like Diomedes while others were forced like Odysseus. These men represented the power, wealth, and military prowess of Achaea. Thus, the whole might of Greece waged war with Troy, which included their generation's greatest heroes like Agammemnon, king of Mycenae (which was the chosen overall commander), Achilles, Diomedes, Odysseus, Philoctetes, and Ajax.
In Homer's Iliad, it is said that the Trojan War took ten years of fighting between the Greek armies and the Trojan army. Nine of the ten were spent fighting between the armies but the Greeks didn't have an advantage since Achilles, a son of Thetis, spent his agreement on Agamemnon in his tent. The Tenth, however, had Achilles returning to help the Greek army fight when he heard that Paris' brother, Hector, had killed his best friend, Patroclus, while Patroclus was wearing Achilles' armor.
Achilles then killed Hector in a duel around the walls surrounding Troy. After killing Hector, Achilles proceeded to tie Hector's mangled body to his chariot as he drove around the city walls for twelve days, displaying Hector's corpse for all to see. Then, under a short truce, Priam goes to Achilles to ask him to give him the body of Hector's body, so he may hold his funeral. Achilles relents, and gives the dead Hector's body to him, but at the same time he cries.
Paris later slays Achilles as the latter is storming the walls of Troy - he shoots an arrow, guided by Apollo, into the hero's heel, killing him. Paris himself is later slain by Philoktetes, using the poisoned-tipped arrows of Hercules.
The Judgement of Paris
The Judgement of Paris was the cause for the result of the Trojan War to start between the Greeks and the Trojans. Paris was picked by Zeus, the king of the gods, to decide who was the fairest goddess on Olympus - Aphrodite, Hera, or Athena.
There are many reasons on how Paris judged who was the true fairest goddess. One was that all three goddesses went naked to show him their beauty so he could decide which of them were fairest. The second was that at the same time all three goddesses stood before him they told him that if he decided on one of them they would give him:
- Athena - the wisdom, and skills in battle to become the greatest warrior.
- Aphrodite - the most beautiful woman on earth (which turned out to be Helen)
- Hera - ownership of Europe and Asia.
Paris, however, thought that each of Athena and Hera's gifts to him were not so good because he knew that his father and the city of Troy were at peace and that there was no use of a war. So instead of picking Athena and Hera as the fairest of all, Paris picked Aphrodite because he thought her gift was the best. This made Hera and Athena deeply angered that Paris had not picked them and they angrily disappeared to Olympus, causing the rest of the gods to help each side of the war in the fight against and for Troy, with Hera and Athena choosing to fight against Paris and Troy, and Aphrodite to fight for him.
Percy Jackson briefly mentions Paris and his relationship with Helen when talking to Aphrodite about tragic love stories in a white limousine at the Junkyard of the Gods, to which the love goddess replies to by shaking her head sadly, but having a smile as she is nodding.