The golden apple of discord

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Destiny had nurtured this seed, and no one, whether gods or mortals, could stop the doom that engulfed Greece like a raging fire. Let’s journey back in time when the gods frequently left their home in Mount Olympus to meddle in the lives of mortals. Narrator: Zeus and his queen Hera decided to throw a wedding party for the hero Peleus and the sea-nymph Thetis, who would soon become the parents of the renowned hero, Achilles. Prior to the celebration, Zeus dispatched Hermes to deliver invitations, inviting all the gods except Iris, the goddess of strife and chaos.

He was concerned that Iris’ presence would ruin the wedding feast. However, news about the party had spread worldwide, and Iris eventually learned about it. Scene I: Iris’ residence. Iris is lounging in a cot when her talkative servant, who has a tendency for gossiping, approaches her. Iris’ minion (ME): Greetings to you, my goddess Iris. There is some extremely exciting news from Olympus that is sure to capture your attention, my lady. Iris: What is it? Tell me, minion, for I am eager to hear your news. Just make sure it is interesting to me, as I have no interest in matters that do not concern the goddess of strife and chaos.

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ME: My highness, surely it will catch your interest. Haven’t you heard? The gods & goddesses will hold a banquet tomorrow for the wedding of Pileup, the mortal son of King Coaches of Ageing, and Thesis, the nymph daughter of Nerves whom Hear had raised as her own. All the gods & goddesses were invited and are busy preparing for the party.

Iris (stands from her position): What! All of the gods? Did they intend to overlook me? No word nor rumor has spread about this party. Are you certain about this, minion?

ME: Yes, my Lady.

In fact, I have witnessed the nymphs of Hear present the beautiful and divine bridal gown. And yes, my Lady, it is rumored that all of the gods and goddesses will attend the party tomorrow. Even Hades from the underworld will be there with his consort Persephone. Iris: This is so unfair! How dare they overlook me! This is injustice! This is discrimination! It’s like a hard slap to my face! ME: P-Please remain calm, my Lady. Iris: No! How can I be calm? As the goddess of Chaos, I will not tolerate this injustice! They will surely experience my wrath! I will turn that party into chaos!

I will have my revenge! ME:

B-But my Lady! How would you seek vengeance for such an unforgivable insult to you? Zeus possesses great power. And even if you were to release the Titans in Tartar’s to fight alongside your cause, he has the Olympian gods & goddesses on his side! Iris:

Stop speaking nonsense, minion! I, the Goddess of Chaos, will employ my stealthy ways to retaliate against this discrimination. In fact, this is the perfect opportunity to set my long-planned scheme of creating chaos among the gods & goddesses in motion. I will sow the seeds of chaos among those present there, particularly targeting the goddesses, as Zeus struggles when it comes to matters involving women!

ME: How will you accomplish that, my Lady?
Iris: What is the prevailing negative attitude of the goddesses?
ME: (thinks) um… Jealousy?
Iris: Finally, you’re using your senses minion. Yes! Jealousy, envy-?these are common weaknesses among goddesses. And I, the Goddess of Chaos, will exploit that weakness for my revenge!
ME: But my Lady, how will you execute your goal without them detecting your plan? Some goddesses, such as Athena, are very astute, and others have the ability to foresee the future, like Themes for example.

Undoubtedly, your motives will be discovered. Is it not a perilous notion to venture into such a scheme? Iris: Ha! Even the selfish goddesses and gods themselves will not uncover my plan until I have sown the seed of chaos among them. Witness for yourself tomorrow at the banquet, servant. Vengeance is mine, and I will certainly accomplish my scheme! (wickedly laughs) Haw! Narrator: Filled with anger for not being invited, Iris, the goddess of strife and chaos, proceeded with her plan to ruin the party. She went to the Garden of Hesperus, which housed an orchard where a tree of golden apples, granting immortality, grew.

This tree was a gift from Gaga, the primordial goddess of the earth, to Hera when she agreed to marry Zeus. Iris managed to pluck a fruit from the tree and inscribed on it “You are the fairest of them all.” The gods were oblivious to the impending trouble until Iris appeared at the party in Scene II. At the party, many gods and goddesses were still arriving. Zeus and Hera were seated at the most prominent seats with the bride and groom. Polio’s lyre played in the background, setting the mood. Everyone was enjoying themselves and engaging in conversations with their fellow gods and goddesses.

The party has not officially begun yet, but Pileup is already drunk on the wines of Dionysus. Pan, a satyr and the god of shepherds, can be seen conversing with Dionysus. Some nymphs pass by them. Pan: (whistles as the nymphs pass by) Wow, look at these beautiful ladies! (The nymphs smile flirtatiously at Pan as they continue on their way.) This party is truly magnificent! It is extremely unusual for Zeus to host a banquet for the wedding of a mortal and a nymph. Dionysus: Yes, very rare indeed. This party is also the desire of the goddess Hear for her foster daughter.

She wants to show off this wedding to her fellow goddesses, which doesn’t surprise me. In Olympus, everything is a competition and a test of vanity. The Queen herself would never accept being the least popular. Be careful what you say, or you might get kicked out of this party just like her son Hyphenates was. (Laughs) It seems like everyone is here, right? Yeah, everyone was invited except for one. Let me guess, Iris, right? (laughs) As always.

That particular person is suitable for events such as this. I believe that only a war would truly appreciate her presence. Pan: Yes, it would be disastrous if she were to come; it would ruin the party. I cannot even fathom the idea of dancing with her at any gathering. (laughs) Dionysus: (laughs) Neither can I. Pan: Well, I should go outside and try to find some nymphs to pursue, my friend. I am certain there are some leisurely walking in the garden, as the party has not officially begun yet. I won’t return home without winning one over tonight. Dionysus: (Laughs) That’s just like you, my friend. Go and find a lovely lady for yourself.

After a while, Pan leaves and Zeus stands up for the official introduction. Zeus says, “Good evening everyone! It is my pleasure to welcome you all to this unique event. Today we are celebrating the union of the mortal Pileup, son of King Coaches of Ageing, and Thesis, whom my wife raised as her own. Together, with my Queen, we have used our powers to ensure that this event would turn out as planned.” However, Pan quickly returns to the hall and interrupts Zeus. Pan says, “My Lord, my Lord!” Irritated, Zeus responds, “What is it with you Pan? Can’t you see I am having my speech here?”

Pan apologizes to his Lord and informs him that Iris has arrived. Upon hearing this, there is a murmuring among the crowd. However, as Iris enters the hall, silence engulfs the room and everyone’s attention is on her. She remarks on everyone’s enjoyment and expresses curiosity about the situation. She scans her surroundings and notices the quietness. Wondering if she looks like a monster, she questions why everyone is silent. Zeus responds saying they believe a monster is present and asks why Iris is here, suggesting she may ruin their evening. Iris denies this accusation.

Father, please do not accuse me. I have only come to offer greetings and blessings to the happy couple. Unfortunately, Pileup, who is drunk, mistakenly believes that the Hydra intends to take his wife. Pileup draws his sword and charges toward Iris, shouting that she will never have his wife. However, Iris manages to step aside, causing Pileup to stumble and fall unconscious on the ground, where he begins snoring. Meanwhile, Thesis rushes over to him in concern. Iris takes the opportunity to speak to Hear, angrily stating that she believes any son born to her and Pileup’s daughters would surpass their father in greatness. Hear stands up from her seat, vowing that Iris will pay for her words.

Zeus reassures his wife, Hera, that the party is meant to be joyous and tells her not to worry. He then instructs some men to take Pileup to his room, with Thesis accompanying him. Zeus warns Iris that her actions will cause trouble and threatens her with his anger. Iris agrees to leave but insists on presenting a gift – a golden apple – for someone who is deserving.

Iris leaves the room with a wicked smile on her face. The apple rolls into Polio’s feet. Then he picks it up and reads the inscription. Apollo: worth the fairest of them all”? It’s for the fairest! Artemisia: Give that thing to me, my brother. I should have that apple. Persephone: No, I am more vibrant and younger than you are goddess of hunt! You don’t deserve that golden apple! Artemisia: How dare you to say such words to me brat! (Attempts to slap Persephone, but Demeter shielded her daughter against the attempted attack of Artemisia) Demeter: Don’t you dare touch my girl, or will be your enemy!

Hear noticed the commotion and approached the apple. She questioned what was happening and warned the group not to ruin the party. She didn’t want anything to spoil the special night. Hear believed that someone should claim ownership of the apple, and as the Lady of Olympus, she thought she should have it. She raised her eyebrow and took hold of the apple, asking if there were any objections. The group stopped arguing and remained silent as Hear made her way back to her seat. However, Aphrodite and Athena then approached her. Aphrodite cleared her throat and told Hear that she must be mistaken.

It is clear that the text is directed towards me. This is evident by the title “goddess of Love and Beauty”. Athena disagrees with being overly confident and believes that a woman’s beauty is not solely determined by looks and titles. She believes that a woman’s mind, reasoning, and strength are what truly make her appealing to others. Aphrodite sarcastically responds, implying that men are not interested in a woman’s intelligence. Hear then mocks both Athena and Aphrodite for their ambition and arrogance, reminding them to “Know thyself” as stated in the Delphic motto. This serves as a reminder to know one’s own place as underlings.

It is highly unethical, impious, and disrespectful to deny the Queen of the Gods her rightful privileges. Aphrodite: Pardon me? With all due respect, Queen of the Gods, you do not have a strong justification for possessing that apple. As I have mentioned, it is best suited for the goddess of Love and Beauty to look after. And why should we refer to the inferior motto of humans? We are gods and goddesses here. Their thinking is not like ours, just as their blood differs from ours. Athena: (sarcastically applauds) Impressive!

Aphrodite, the goddess who once loved Adonis and considered humans as lowly beings, spoke some wise words. (Pause for a very short while) Let me remind you that the words on the apple indicate it is meant for the “fairest”. However, this does not apply to you, dear Queen. The births of Apollo, Artemisia, Persephone, and many others prove that. Aphrodite, I want to remind you that we are discussing beauty on a grander scale, encompassing not only superficial appearance but also inner beauty.

Physical appearance as the sole basis for beauty is a weak, shallow belief. It is a delusion! All the goddesses here are beautiful, right? However, the one who possesses the apple must truly be the fairest in every sense! None of us here are deserving of that title, except for myself. So, the apple will be mine. Aphrodite: (sarcastically laughing) Even though you are the Goddess of Wisdom, your reasoning fails you at times, my sister. That is why you still do not have your own husband.

Your beauty is not perceived by other gods. If it were not for frustration and desperation, wouldn’t the Hyphenates pursue you? Athena: How dare you! Say that again and I will bring about your downfall! Aphrodite: What will you do, my tomboyish sister? Hear: Shut up, both of you! To settle this argument, the apple must be mine! Aphrodite: (snatches the apple from Hear’s hands) No way! Just because you’re the queen of the gods doesn’t mean you can easily have this apple! You can’t always get what you want! You need to accept that fact and stop living in your delusion!

Athena snatches the apple from Aphrodite, declaring that neither of them deserve it due to their weak reasoning. Zeus interrupts angrily, reminding them that the event is meant to celebrate Pileup and Thesis, not their selfish debate. He threatens anyone who disrupts the celebration with his thunderbolts. The three goddesses stop fighting and fall silent for a moment.

After a brief period, Hear interrupts and demands that the husband settle the debate over who is the fairest and who rightfully owns the apple. Zeus considers how to avoid this dilemma and, before responding, drinks his wine. He then explains that he cannot decide between his wife and daughters as they are all equally worthy in his eyes and the decision is not his to make.

To settle this argument, let mankind determine who among the three goddesses should receive the apple. Can any man on Earth truly be considered worthy to judge us? And if so, who would that man be? Zeus reveals that there is indeed one young man who consistently speaks only the truth that originates from his heart – Paris, a shepherd from Mount Ida. Despite his royal lineage, Paris is renowned for his sincerity. Upon hearing this, Aphrodite suggests going to Paris to seek his judgement and resolve the conflict. Zeus agrees and orders his son Hermes to deliver the apple to Paris in advance of the goddesses’ arrival. Hermes is instructed to inform Paris of the honor bestowed upon him by Zeus, empowering him to judge the three goddesses in this competition. Hermes agrees to carry out his father’s wishes.

Narrator: The judgment of the fairest among the goddesses was entrusted to Paris, a royal-born Trojan. Similar to Oedipus, Paris was abandoned on a mountain as a baby due to a prophecy that he would destroy his homeland. However, destiny intervened and protected him, allowing him to grow up as a shepherd tending to his flock in the mountains. The time had come for Paris’ judgment to alter the course of the world. Scene III: The Pasture, in Mat.

Ida Paris is tending to his flock when Hermes suddenly appears. Hermes introduces himself as the messenger god, sent by Zeus to inform Paris that he has been given the task of judging the beauty of three goddesses who will arrive shortly. Paris is hesitant, wondering why he has been chosen for this responsibility instead of the gods deciding amongst themselves.

You’re the gods after all. Hermes instructs Paris to do as he has said, or else he will face consequences. After Hermes exits, the three goddesses arrive. Paris implores them to wait. Hear then appears before Paris and introduces herself as the goddess-queen Hear. She mentions that Hermes has likely explained the purpose of their visit. Athena and Aphrodite, who are confident in their ability to compete against Hear, express their arrogance. Aphrodite taunts Hear, telling her to accept her impending defeat.

From the moment it begins, it is evident that the apple must belong to me. Athena interrupts, telling Paris to be quiet and let the man speak. She confirms Paris’ identity and instructs him to choose which of them is the most beautiful, urging him to make a swift decision. Paris hesitates and suggests they share the apple instead. However, Athena insists that one person must possess it and advises Paris to choose quickly if he values his life. Paris scrutinizes the three goddesses, but remains uncertain as to whom he will give the apple.

Recognizing his agony, Hear presents her bribe to him Paris: Oh no! It is very difficult to choose among you, my goddesses!
Hear: Choose me, mortal, and will grant you royal power. You will be king of a vast kingdom which you don’t ever imagine. I can give you all of Asia or all of the kingdoms of Greece if you like. You will rule all of these, and their kings will become your vassals. Your name shall become famous because of your political power!
(Paris examines her carefully from head to toe.)
Athena: What’s the use of a kingdom and vast lands if you could not defend and rule it effectively?

A man with limited combat abilities cannot possess the qualities necessary to become a ruler. If you choose me, I promise to bestow upon you immeasurable wisdom. I will enhance your combat skills and transform you into a competent leader, in addition to bringing you wealth. (Paris also examines her) Aphrodite states: I am unable to bestow kingdoms and wisdom upon you, Paris. However, I am aware of your true heart’s desire. If you award me the apple, I will grant you Helen, the most beautiful woman on earth who is the daughter of King Tankards and Queen Lead. (Paris is so captivated by the goddess’s beauty that he cannot look away from her.) Paris asks: H-Helen?

Aphrodite sarcastically asks Helen if she has heard of her name, as her beauty surpasses even these individuals present. Paris acknowledges her question and mentions that tales of Helen’s beauty reach as far as Ethiopia, and bards sing songs about her. He believes that no mortal woman on earth is worthy enough to touch the garment of the goddess of Love and Beauty herself, except for Helen.

Listen, young boy, do not be deceived by sweet words, for the beauty of a mortal is temporary like a fading flower. However, power can be yours for as long as you live! Athena disagrees, stating that power is not always granted to those with selfish intentions who seek to overthrow others. Instead, she advises Paris to choose wisdom, which will guide him in every step he takes and prevent such negative outcomes. Unfortunately, both Hear and Athena’s words go unheard. Paris becomes lost in his thoughts as if he is dreaming. It is only when Athena begins speaking again that he remembers his task.

Athena: (Clears her throat to Ft;fake up” Paris from his daydreaming, making him startled as he heard her) Now that you heard us, time to give your decision, young man.
Paris: W-w-with all the due respect my goddesses. A-award t-this a-apple t- to…
Hear: Spit it out boy.
Paris: I-I g-give this apple to the g-goddess… Aphrodite!
Hear: What? Are you sure about this? Don’t you want power?
Athena: Nor even wisdom, but the most beautiful woman? How lame! You’re such a foolish one!
Paris: (Voice full of gladness) My ladies, the contest was over before it began.

Who can compare to the charms of Love and Beauty herself? He kneels before Aphrodite and gives her the apple. Hear: Time will come, and you will definitely regret this, mortal! You won’t escape the wrath that you have brought upon yourself! Athena was a bit amused by your folly, mortal. But definitely, I will make you realize your tepidity on that day when I will show you what a bit of tactical skill could mean. And that would be on the battlefield! Aphrodite (smiles) Oh please. It has been decided! Though hard as it is, let’s just acknowledge the fact that not all the time victory will be on your side.

It might be challenging for you, Athena, given your reputation for always winning battles and never losing. However, this situation is different! My fellow goddesses, I hope you will respect the boys’ decision. It must be really painful, but we need to accept the truth. Listen to Athena and leave Aphrodite and Paris behind with a smug expression on their faces.

Paris: When will I receive my goddess, Helen?
Aphrodite: Be patient, young man. I will grant you the prize you deserve at the right time. There are many things you should know, especially about your true origin.

But for now, shall be back to Mat. Olympus to rejoice over my victory! Fear not, for you will have my protection from those two. I will keep an eye on you. (then leaves Paris) From that very hour Paris sought only the advice of Aphrodite, and only cared to find his fortunes. From her he learned that he was the son of King Prima of Troy, and eventually he won back the favor of the royal family who had castes the words of the Oracle to the winds, despite the warnings of the young Cassandra, daughter of the king-?that Paris would bring catastrophe on Troy.

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