The Bitch that Launched a Thousand Ships

So I like mythology (as would suit most RPGers, Latinists, and occultists), and can recall probably several dozen stories from Greco-Roman lore off the top of my head.  Of course, back in those days, myths were more than just stories: they helped found whole cultures, ground identities, and flesh out institutions and customs for centuries and centuries.

One of my favorite stories starts off, as many do, atop the swanky Mount Olympus.  The gods, on Zeus’ idea, decided to throw a huge banquet (I think it was a wedding party, because clearly the gods needed to be wedded to get it on and stuff) and invited all the gods and goddesses and demideities and anyone who was anyone back in the days a few millennia ago.  It was a pretty big affair, because it was peaceful and the gods didn’t have much to care about that week, and also because Dionysus had a few extra amphorae of his best vintage to get errbody tipsy in Olympus.  Errbody, that is, except for Eris, the goddess of strife and discord.  I mean, it’s understandable that you wouldn’t want to invite that kind of thing (literally or no) to a wedding or banquet, right?  Who knows what might happen with Eris around, gosh.

Well, it’s also understandable that being the only deity among all the deities (and there were many) to be excluded from a classy affair might insult a bit.  Just a skosh, you know?  In fact, Eris was pretty pissed, but being who she is and all, decided to start some shit anyway (if she were invited, she might’ve just spilled some wine on someone “on accident”, but who can say?).  She got out a shiny thing, a golden apple, and inscribed the word ΚΑΛΛΙΣΤΗΙ, or “To the Prettiest” and chucked it from her home all the way onto the dancefloor on Olympos.  It caught the attention of all the girls and goddesses on Olympos, and they all started fighting over it because, I mean, come on, obviously they each were the prettiest, Q. E. Duh.

Of course, that also included the big ladies Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite, and when they got involved, everyone else backed off (except for the gods, who were cheering them on and betting who was gonna get bitchslapped first; imagine a high school brawl between Shaniqua, Bonquisha, and Tynecia in the cafeteria, except with fireballs instead of chairs being thrown and doing triple z-snaps in slurred Mycenaean Greek).  Eventually, Zeus had enough of the crap going on, and it was his party and THEY WERE RUINING IT OMG.  He got them to shut up for a second and got them to agree to have an impartial mortal male judge decide who was the prettiest, since all the other immortals had already picked sides (either for themselves or for whoever would get them laid that night), and Eris, the only immortal not there, was right out of the question.  Eventually, the gods found a decent judge of character and beauty (…sigh) in the form of a young shepherd prince in what’s now northwestern Turkey.  His name was Paris, son of Priam, who was King of Troy at the time.

So Zeus led Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite to the fields of Troy where Paris was hanging out with his sheeps and peeps.  Respectfully, Paris greeted the deities with a “OMGZ WTF”.  Zeus replied “Bitches, obvi”, and explained the situation.  Immediately after Zeus gave control of the situation to Paris and returned to the party, the goddesses remained and immediately bribed him with something only they could give: Hera promised control and dominion over his whole area of the world; Athena promised great wisdom and strategic brilliance; Aphrodite promised the most beautiful woman of the world: Helen, wife of Menelaus, King of Sparta.

Now, ponder with me for a quick sec: if you were a young boy with only sheep to chill with pretty much all the time, surrounded at home by gaggles of obnoxious sisters from gods-know-how-many-women-Priam-slept-with, second to the throne behind your older and more rugged and attractive brother Prince Hector, and a wuss when it comes to fighting except with the effeminate skill of archery, and had a brain that functioned with the cognition skills of at least a five-year-old, you’d probably want something that would help you cement your name and rule across the land and ages (but leaning more towards power and dominion in some form or another).  Unfortunately, Paris wasn’t really great at thinking with the head above his belt, and chose Aphrodite’s gift of Helen.  Aphrodite then proceeded to set up events so that Paris would hook up and sneak out with Helen on his next family’s visit to Menelaus’ pad in Sparta across the Aegean Sea (N.B. to married couples: if your partner is going on a business trip, make sure he stays at a hotel alone).  Paris, in return, handed the shiny apple to Aphrodite, while Athena and Hera scowled and flew off to Olympus, getting trashed on wine and trash talking Aphrodite.

Paris and Hector and Priam, when they went to Sparta next, had a few parties with the Sparta crew, Paris got together with Helen, and they left in the middle of the night together.  Menelaus, when he realized he wasn’t in bed with Helen (a few nights later on, of course, and wondering why he hadn’t seen her in a bit), realized what happened, whined to his brother Agamemnon, King of the Argives, who saw a chance for plunder and revenge against the Trojans.  The rest, as they say, is history (in the form of a few long-winded poems kids translate for AP Latin in high school).

Moral of the story?  Don’t be a bitch.  (Also this is what happens when I have a few beers and decide to write something.)

6 responses

  1. I VERY much dispute your description of the skill of archery as effeminate. (Also, I think it’d be “Zeus’s”. So there.) :P

    • Re archery: It wasn’t man-to-man close combat fighting, but instead fighting from a distance. From the classical/antique point of view, archery was effeminate, because it didn’t risk much on the part of the archer except a few arrows. Re Zeus’: It can be either, so long as you’re consistent, but I prefer “s'” for classical names and “s’s” for modern ones.

  2. I want to drink with you. And be a bitch while doing so.
    Also, it’s Zeus’. It has to do with it being a monosyllabic proper noun, being an ancient proper noun, and having an unvoiced consonant ending (s=s not s=z).

    • Us having drinks would be a spectacular shitshow of awesome. I’m in favor of this, if ever I’m in your neck of the woods or you in mine. What’s your preferred poison?
      Also, I’m pretty sure either “Zeus'” or “Zeus’s” is correct, but style manuals defend “Zeus'” since it’s classical and monosyllabic (that, and I was always raised to never use ‘s after an s anyway). That said, if we wanted to be really correct about this, we’d use the proper Greek genitive and say Dios (Zeus is an irregular noun, because the speakers of Proto-Indo-European hate us).

  3. Pingback: Foundations of Ritual | The Digital Ambler

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