Hera, the goddess ever proud and sharp of tongue, demanded, "You shall decide, herdsman of Troy, which of us clearly deserves Strife's golden apple - which of the three is most fair. My husband, in an unusually tactful turn, has refused this judgment, and so it falls to you."

Athena took few pains to hide her smile as she replied, "If the criterion were only strife, I'm certain that none would deny you the apple, Hera. But as to beauty, I think that Paris will surely find me more appealing; imagine, dear man, the wisdom and battle-triumphs that could be yours."

"I see," sneered Hera. "You would win by bribery instead of your own merits. If that's the way this contest is to be, I offer you power, Paris. Men will bow before you and heed your word; the world will tremble at your footstep."

Surprised but not displeased at this turn of events, Paris turned to Aphrodite, who thus far had remained silent. She smiled.

"To you, Paris, I who am Beauty offer you something far more precious than power or wisdom. I offer you every man's desire, the most beautiful woman in the world."

The Trojan man nodded. He had made his choice; it was so obvious as to be no choice at all.


Ancient Armaments