98 pages • 3 hours readBernard Evslin
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The goddess Eris, omitted from the guest list of the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, crashes the party and presents to the assembled gods a golden apple inscribed “To the Fairest.” This sets off a competition between Hera, Queen of the Gods, Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, and Aphrodite, Goddess of Love. They choose young Paris, a prince of Troy disguised as a simple shepherd, to be the judge. Hera offers power, Athena promises wisdom, and Aphrodite merely whispers in Paris’s ear. Paris gives the apple to her. She promised him any woman he wanted; he selects Helen, wife of Menelaus, King of Sparta. Helen runs away with Paris, the Greeks launch an armada to get her back, and the Trojan War begins.
When Ulysses leaves Circe, she cries so hard that her tears pour into the sea and erupt as a freshwater fountain. Ulysses tells his wife Penelope this story while disguised as an old beggar who claims to have heard the fountain tale when he was at sea. Penelope likes this story, though it suggests that her husband dallied with another woman during his wanderings.
By Bernard Evslin