Study Guide

The Judgment of Paris Beauty

Beauty

This myth is brimming with the theme of beauty. The whole conflict gets started when Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite start bickering over the golden apple that's "for the fairest." This, of course, leads to one of the world's first beauty pageants, judged by Paris, who was supposed to be a pretty handsome dude, himself. On top of all that, Paris ends up choosing Aphrodite, goddess of love and... you guessed it... beauty, as the prettiest goddess. And as his prize, Paris claims Helen, the most beautiful woman ever.

So yeah, there's no doubt that the "The Judgment of Paris" is very concerned with beauty. The interesting thing is the story doesn't really celebrate beauty as a particularly great thing. Throughout the story it's a source of major conflict. No wonder Eris, goddess of strife, chose to write "for the fairest" on the apple. Being an expert in conflict, she really knows how issues of beauty can really push people's buttons. Whether it's the bickering of the three goddesses or the bloody Trojan War, which is started by Paris's obsession with gorgeous Helen, this story seems to show us that sometimes beauty can cause major problems.

Questions About Beauty

  1. Which goddess do you think Paris would choose as the most beautiful without their bribes?
  2. What does it say about Paris that he values the beautiful Helen over everything else?
  3. Can you think of examples of beauty causing trouble in your everyday life?Ā 
  4. What do you think makes somebody beautiful?

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