Eris walked in her garden and sat motionless under a tree, unable to stand or walk further. Her long blonde hair fell like a warm embrace on her cold shoulders. A tear rolled down her pale cheek, glittered like a diamond and then disappeared, leaving a shining trail behind it, evidence of its existence.
She was used to being ignored or despised, anyway. She tried and tried to be on friendly terms with the other Olympians, but to no avail. Her reputation as the goddess of strife and discord preceded her every time. Eris couldn’t comprehend those notions and, above all, was unable to accept that her actions affected gods and humans so negatively.
“But everybody’s invited to the wedding, apart from me!” Peleus and Thetis’ wedding was an important event, as they were to become the parents of Achilles. Eris’ wrath grew instantly. “Apart from me!” She felt the pangs of jealousy all over her slim body. “Apart from me!” Rage came over her. The shining trail had disappeared from her burning cheeks. Her head throbbed. No, no, it wasn’t something she would overlook and forget. Not so easily. She had to get her revenge. “But how?” It had to be something they would never forget. “But what?” She would retaliate, at all costs.
As she was about to get up, she turned her head and looked above her, as if looking for an idea, for an opportunity, for a sign. She realized that all that time she had been sitting under an apple tree. “An apple tree?” Red, juicy, mouthwatering apples hang from its branches. “Think, Eris, think!” She examined the branches closely and picked the biggest apple she could reach. “Now what, Eris?” She held the apple in her hand and blew on it. The apple immediately turned golden. “Aha!” Suddenly, an idea dawned on her. She blew the apple a second time. An inscription appeared on it: To the Fairest One. “That will do”. Eris let a smile out. She had finally got everything ready.
She went to the reception lounge. The Olympians hadn’t finished with the wedding yet. She found the most prominent table in the lounge and put the golden apple on. Then she hid behind the curtains. And waited patiently.
Now the reception lounge was full. The twelve Olympians were all present to celebrate the union of Peleus and Thetis. Zeus and Hera were very satisfied of the outcome. Soon a boy would be born; half god, half human, and invulnerable.
Everybody was in a festive mood. Athena and Aphrodite were chatting away, laughingly. Artemis and Demeter were dancing to the music of Apollo, who played his harp. Ares and Hermes were arguing over this and that. Hephaestus and Poseidon were drinking nectar and eating ambrosia when, all of a sudden, they noticed the golden apple on the table.
“Who is it for?” wondered everybody. “To the Fairest One”. "But who’s that?"
“That’s me,” beamed Aphrodite and moved towards the golden apple.
“No, no, that must be me,” laughed Hera and went to the table with the apple.
“It’s definitely me,” shouted Athena and ran towards the apple.
Within seconds, the three goddesses were up in arms about who should keep the golden apple. None of them was willing to step back. None would give in. All three of them protested they were worth the golden apple. The fight went on and on until the wise Zeus decided to intervene in order to pacify the situation.
“Let us have Paris, Prince of Troy, decide.” Yes, that was a fair suggestion. Paris was a handsome young man, the son of a king and a queen. He possessed qualities like maturity and integrity. He could decide who the golden apple belongs to.
The three goddesses took the golden apple of discord and dashed to Paris. Having explained the complexity of the situation, they asked him to choose who should keep it. Paris was speechless; how could he make such a decision? They were all attractive and smart women. How could he choose?
The three women, seeing that Paris hesitated to make up his mind, started to coax him, taking the one after the other their clothes off and showing off their slim, elegant bodies. Still, Paris couldn’t make a decision, because they were all naturally beautiful. The women had to find another way to make Paris decide. He didn’t need riches, he was already handsome, young and smart, he had an impeccable character. What could possibly help him choose? How could they stand out in his eyes? “There must be a way, something we can do.”
The three women started to bribe him with gifts. Hera offered him infinite political power. Athena guaranteed infinite wisdom. And Aphrodite promised him the most beautiful woman in the world: Helen, wife of Menelaus of Sparta. Paris thought for a moment. All gifts were wonderful and wished he could have them all. But that was impossible and he had to choose. In the end, after a lot of thought, he gave the golden apple to Aphrodite.
Now the reception lounge was empty. Remains of a celebration could be seen everywhere. But the twelve Olympians had all gone. The married couple had gone, too. Eris came out from behind the curtains, with a smile on her face. “It couldn’t have been better.” Everything went according to plan. Soon a long lasting war would break out. Souls would be lost. “According to plan, Eris.” “That will teach them a lesson.” She returned to her apartments, jumping for joy. The Trojan War had already began. She had got her own back on them.
Eris, the Greek goddess of strife and discord, was always alone. She couldn’t comprehend why the other gods snubbed her and were wary of her presence. Her reputation preceded her, that must have been it. People built no temples for her, and avoided mentioning her name, in case they infuriate her. Because her rage and wrath were ruthless.