Aphrodite and the Trojan War
At the wedding feast of Peleus (King of Thessaly) and Thetis (a Nymph) all the gods were invited except Eris (goddess of strife) because she was quarrelsome and destructive. She was furious at this and to spoil the feast she threw down a golden apple with the inscription “to the fairest”, which fell between Hera, Athena and Aphrodite. All three claimed it causing a quarrel between them. Zeus intervened to avoid a fight and as no one at the feast wanted to decide which of the goddesses deserved the apple, he suggested that the three goddesses go to the fairest mortal, Prince Paris of Troy, to settle the dispute.
The three contestants tried to bribe Paris. Hera offered him wealth and power, Athena guaranteed him wisdom and skill and Aphrodite promised him the fairest mortal woman in the entire world for his wife. Paris chose Aphrodite’s offer, as beauty was immediate and seductive and he awarded the prize to the goddess of beauty and love. This gained him a friend (Aphrodite) and two deadly enemies (Hera and Athena).
Time passed and Paris became impatient waiting for his bride, so he sailed off, accompanied by Aeneas (the son of Aphrodite) to find her. The winds took them to Sparta, where King Menelaus and Queen Helen, (the most beautiful woman in the world) hospitably welcomed them.
During their stay in Sparta, Menelaus was called to attend his grandfather’s funeral in Crete, leaving Helen to entertain the guests. The next morning, the Trojans also left but at night they pulled anchor and abducted Helen and her baby to take them to Troy. Aphrodite, together with Peitho (goddess of persuasion) and Eros had cast a spell on Helen, causing her to believe that Paris was Menelaos.
During their journey, a violent storm forced them to shelter in Cyprus which was off their course. Once they reached Troy, King Priam welcomed Helen into his household grabbing the opportunity to pay off old scores against the Greeks.
In the meantime, outraged Menelaus began preparations for war. His cause was acknowledged to be just, and all Greece joined to help him. Agamemnon, Menelaus’ brother, sent Tathybius, Odysseus and Menelaus to Cyprus, to involve Cinyras of Pafos in the war. Cinyras, however, sent only one ship to help and made a personal gift to Agamemnon (a magnificent breast plate whose description is found in the Iliad) to avoid grievances. But the Greeks were too preoccupied with their mission and thus Cyprus remained at peace and increased in prosperity.
The Trojan War lasted ten years.