Paris is the second son of Priam and Hecuba.  Before his birth, his mother Hecuba had a a dream.  In it, she gave birth to a torch, which burned down all of TroyAesacus, Priam's son by another marriage, explained that this meant the child would destroy Troy and so should be killed.  Upon his birth, Priam gave the infant to a shepherd, with orders to expose him.  The shepherd did as he was ordered, but when he returned a few days later, the child was still alive.  A female bear had suckled him.  Taking this as a sign, the shepherd saved the child and raised him as his own son.  He named him Paris, and Paris grew up to be a very handsome man.

While tending his father's flocks, Priam's men approached.  They took one of his bulls, explaining that it was needed for the funeral games of Aesacus, who was now presumed to be dead (he was actually changed into a bird).  Not wanting to lose the animal, Paris followed the men and participated in the games, where he excelled.  Cassandra, the prophetic daughter of Priam, recognized Paris, and he was accepted back into the family.

While Paris was tending to Priam's flocks, Athena, Hera and Aphrodite suddenly appeared.  Each of these three goddesses desired the golden apple, and Paris was to be the judge.  Each goddess attempted to bribe Paris.  Hera offered wealth and power, Athena offered military greatness, and Aphrodite offered the most beautiful woman in the world.  Paris chose Aphrodite, assuming that the most beautiful woman in the world was in fact Aphrodite herself.  After the judgment was handed down, Aphrodite informed Paris that she is a goddess, not a woman, and the most beautiful woman in the world was Helen of Sparta.

Paris then headed off to Sparta to claim his prize.  Both his sister Cassandra and brother Helenus as well, as his own wife Oenone, urged him not to go, saying he would destroy Troy.  Paris, however, did not listen to them.  Once in Sparta, Paris was entertained by king Menelaus, the husband of HelenMenelaus, however, soon had to leave Sparta, and he instructed his wife Helen to entertain their guest.  As soon as Helen looked upon Paris, she fell madly in love, because of Aphrodite.  When Menelaus returned, the two lovers were forced to flee.  They grabbed whatever valuables they could find, and sailed for Troy.  Compelled by honor, Menelaus went to his brother Agamemnon, the king of all the Greeks.  He gathered up a great army and 1,000 ships to get Helen back.

To end the war, many Trojans urged him to return Helen, but Paris refused.  During the war, Paris fought sparingly.  At the urging of Hector, Paris met Menelaus in single combat, to decide the war once and for all.  Menelaus was about to kill Paris, but Aphrodite carried him back to the safety of Troy.  Near the end of war, Paris killed Achilles with the help of Apollo, who guided the arrow straight into Achilles' heel.  Soon after, Paris himself was killed by the Greek archer Philoctetes.


  1. ApollodorusBibliotece.

  2. HomerIliad.

  3. EuripidesTroades.