Paris of Troy

    Character » Paris of Troy appears in 71 issues.

    Hero from Greek Myths.

    Short summary describing this character.

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    Paris of Troy was a son of Priam, King of Troy and his wife Hecabe. His paternal grandfather was Laomedon, King of Troy. His maternal grandfather was Sangarius the River God. Sangarius was a son of Oceanus and Tethys the Titans. Paris was the second son born to Hecabe. Just before his birth, Hecabe dreamt she had brought forth a firebrand that destroyed the city of Troy . When this dream was known, the diviner Aesacus, who had learned to understand the meanings of dreams because he had been taking lessons in this art from the seer Merops, the father of King Priam 's first wife Arisbe, advised to expose the child, prophesying that Paris was to become the ruin of the city. But that is not the way Paris himself understood the dream at the time when he went to fetch Helen . For he believed that the fire referred to the torch of his heart burning of love for Helen .

    So, when Paris was born, King Priam, following Aesacus'  interpretation of the dream, gave his and Hecabe's son to a servant Agelaus, with instructions to expose him on Mount Ida, near Troy.  Agelausdid as he was told, but when he returned after five days, seeing that the child had survived because a bear had nursed him in the wilderness, carried him away, and bringing him up as his own son, he named him Paris. This boy grew up to be a very handsome and strong young shepherd who also defended the flocks from robbers, and it is at this time that he was surnamed Alexander.

    Once, while he was tending his cattle on Mount Ida, the young shepherd fell in love with the nymph Oenone, daughter of the river god Cebren. This girl was possessed by a divinity, and some say that it was Rhea who taught her the art of prophecy, but herself she says that it was Apollo. In any case, as the rumor went, she was able to foretell the future, and also obtained renown for being a woman of wisdom and understanding. Paris took Oenoneto Mount Ida, where he had his home, and being very much in love with her, promised her continuously, as lovers often do, that he would never desert her. But almost everybody knew Paris' deeds before Paris himself, and so Oenone, though acknowledging that he for the moment was profoundly in love with her, said that she knew that one day he would fall in love with an European woman, whom he would bring back with him, carrying with her all the horrors of war. And to this disappointing picture, she added that he was to be wounded in that war, and that nobody would be able to cure his wound except herself, who was well acquainted with the Phrygian forests and its healing herbs.  This nymph, who loved Paris when he still was a poor shepherd (for at the time it was not known that he was a Trojan prince) never accepted, though she foretold it, that this young man, who had gone around writing 'Oenone' with his blade in the trunks of the trees, could endure to desert her. Also the seeress Cassandra told her that her love was a fruitless one.

    At this time the gods attended the wedding party of Peleus, King of Pthia and Thetis, to which Eris (Discord) was not invited. And being in pain because of anger and jealousy, this persistent goddess decided to spoil the feast, and though unwelcome, she appeared and threw among the guests one of the Apples of the Hesperides , in which the inscription "for the fairest" could be read. Helping herself through that device, she succeeded in starting a dispute between Hera , Athena , and Aphrodite. So Zeus , who knew the otherwise anonymous shepherd Paris, appointed Hermes to lead the three goddesses to Mount Ida in order to be judged by the same shepherd, and in that way put an end to the quarrel. While Paris reflected on his answer, the goddesses, who for the occasion had bathed their immortal bodies, offered him bribes in order to win Eris ' award of beauty: Athena offered him the command of Phrygia and the destruction of Hellas, or as some say, that he would be bravest of mortals and skilled in every craft. Likewise Hera offered him, besides wealth, the dominion over Asia and Europe. But Aphrodite offered him the hand of Helen , whose beauty was famous worldwide, and this bribe won the Apple.

    From the moment he thought he could get the daughter of Zeus, there was no more 'Oenone' for Paris, and he thought the bribe to be most splendid. The fact that Helen was already a married woman, herself mother of a little daughter, Hermione of Sparta, did not disturb his heart, nor the fact that he was second, not only in marrying her, but also in stealing her. For Theseus had already abducted her years ago, and she was not a maid when the Dioscuri, her brothers, rescued her, razing the city of Aphidnae where Theseus kept her hidden. So what happened to Troy had already been rehearsed in Attica for the sake of the same woman, who, as some suggest, was perhaps inclined to lend herself to theft. Even less did Paris evaluate his new bride's real dowry: a powerful fleet of avenging war-ships, determined to ruin Paris' city and family, and to bring the stolen beauty back. And above all he earned the eternal enmity of the two spurned goddesses, who never forgave him, nor his family nor his whole country, the humiliation they had suffered.

    Paris regarded his own judgement quite fit. For love, he reasoned, was greater than power or a brave heart, and to follow the path traced by Theseus was rather something to be proud of, for Theseus was a great man, except in that he lost Helen , a mistake that Paris intended to correct on his own account. In fact he considered the whole scene and his acquaintance with the goddesses as a favor and a sign of his growing fortune. And as if fate had decided to make him prosper, he saw one favour being followed by another, for his royal origin having been discovered, he changed the life of the shepherd for that of the prince.

    This is what happened: Some servants of King Priamcame to Mount Ida in order to fetch a bull to be given as prize in funeral games. Paris followed them because this was his favorite bull, and having decided to participate in the games, he defeated all other contenders, including his own brothers. One of them, Deiphobus was so angry on account of his defeat that he drew a sword against him and would have killed him, had not Paris quickly taken refuge at the altar of Zeus. It was then that the seeress Cassandra declared that Paris was her brother, and Priam then acknowledged him as his son, receiving him into his palace. This is how Paris, who had been expelled from the city following the advice of one seer, was taken back in accordance with the advice of another seer.

    When by such wonders the shepherd saw himself turned into a prince, it came the time for Paris to go and fetch the prize he had preferred when he happened to act as a judge. Back in Mount Ida, Phereclus son of Tecton, grandson of Harmon built the ships that Paris needed in order to sail to Lacedaemon and reach Sparta , where Queen Helen lived. Some say that Oenonestill was around begging him not to sail, and warning him of the consequences of the actions he was about to perform. It is also said that his sister Cassandra uttered new fiery prophecies as Paris sailed. But as before, Paris thought that those flames just described the love he felt was burning in his heart. So he left, trusting that Aphrodite , whom he had painted on his sail, would favour a gentle breeze and a calm sea; for having rose from the waves, it was natural to think that she could tame them, which apparently she did, by putting him on the way that was also to calm his heart.

    When Paris landed in Lacedaemon, he was first received by the Dioscuri , brothers of Helen , but soon he went to Sparta , where he became King Menelaus ' guest, and in the course of a party he gave gifts to Helen . Menelaus entertained him for nine days, but then he had to leave for Crete in order to attend the funeral of his grandfather Catreus , who had been accidentally killed in Rhodes by his own son Althaemenes, having been taken for a pirate or an invader when he disembarked by night. Thus an oracle was fulfilled, for it had been predicted that Catreus  son of Minos would die by the hand of one of his children, and the one child who exiled himself to avoid the oracle was the same who brought it to completion. Menelaus then set sail for Crete , after having ordered Helen to furnish the guests with all they required, which she did in all details, for as some say, from the moment she met Paris—the young prince who had renounced the riches of the world for her sake—she gazed at his dashing presence with no little admiration, possessed as he was by Aphrodite , who was now his only pilot and sponsor. And not less persuading was his talk about the golden houses, magnificent temples, and lofty towers of Troy , riches not to be found in niggard Sparta . Since Menelaus sailed to Crete , also the companionless beds started haunting them. For nothing seems more wasteful to those pierced by love and desire than to go and lie alone in separate bedrooms while being under the same roof.

    To Paris' mind there was no risk in the escape: the master of the house was away, and on the shore the Trojan fleet, well equipped with arms and men, was ready. As for the consequences of the abduction, there was, according to Paris, nothing to fear, for never before had a war broke out for a stolen woman. Boreasravished Orithyia, daughter of King Erechtheus of Athens, and took her to Thrace, and there was never an Athenian invasion of that country. Jason the Argonaut took with him, besides the Golden Fleece, the king's daughter Medea, and though they were persecuted by the Colchian fleet, the invasion of Thessaly never took place. Theseus abducted Ariadne, the daughter of King Minosof Crete, and yet Minosdid not call to arms. And some say that Io was also taken to Egypt by force, and Europa was removed from Phoenicia, and yet none of these events led to war. It seemed then to Paris that even if most people think it unjust to carry women off, the will to avenge rape is weak, for apparently many believe that the women would never have been abducted, had they not wished it themselves. And so he deemed the risks for retaliation as almost non-existent.

    On her side, Helen always felt that she still had a reputation to take care of. For Theseus , she says, did not lure her away but seized her by force, and yet he did her no harm when she was a captive, but just stole a few kisses, so that when she was returned to Sparta by the Dioscuri I , she was untouched. To become an adulteress living in a foreign land was not an easy step to take, since being abroad without the support of family and friends could be difficult if she ever met harm. For Jason promised many things to Medea , but then he got tired of her and looked for a younger princess, leaving Medea alone and defenceless, and forcing her to go from land to land, and in each cope with the difficulties of exile, until one day she returned to Colchis. But Aphrodite had promised to bring  Helen and Paris together; so while Menelaus was still in Crete , they put many treasures on board, and sailed away by night, leaving Helen 's and Menelaus ' daughter Hermione behind, who was then nine years old. As the Trojan fleet still was in the Laconian Gulf, Helen and Paris consummated their marriage in the island of Cranae.

    Now Hera started to go against the couple, and because of her they met heavy storms at sea, which obliged them to put in at Sidon, a coastal city of Phoenicia, which some say was in reality taken by force by Paris and his troop. In Sidon, Paris purchased or stole richly broidered robes which he gave to his mother when he reached Troy . In the meanwhile, Helen 's brothers, the Dioscuri disappeared from this world after Idasand Lynceuskilled Castorwhen the latter and Polydeuces were stealing their cattle. Some say that Paris and Helen , fearing persecution, spent much time in Phoenicia and Cyprus, but others affirm that they reached Troy in three days, having a fair wind and a smooth sea. It is told that when the seeress Cassandra saw Helen coming into Troy she tore her hair and flung away her golden veil, but the city nevertheless received this woman as a jewel which would enhance its beauty.

    When Menelaus learned, through Iris , what had happened, he, along with his brother King Agamemnon of Mycenae , started planning an expedition against Troy . For this purpose they gathered many other rulers from the whole of Hellas, and a powerful fleet met at Aulis, a Boeotian city opposite the island of Euboea, in order to sail to Troy , and get Helen and the stolen property back, either by persuasion or by force. That is how what was deemed unlikely to happen (since it had never happened before), that is, war for the sake of a woman, was now unavoidable unless Helen and the property were restored. There were Trojans who wished to do so, but they apparently were a minority, and neither King Priam nor the crown prince Hector ever compelled Paris to give back lovely Helen , in spite of the accusations which fell upon the head of the seducer.

    During the last year of the war there was an attempt to solve the conflict by a single combat to be fought between Paris and Menelaus . Paris was at first reluctant to fight and Hector berated him. Paris accepted the reprimand and agreed to the duel. This is how Paris fought with Menelaus , and got almost killed. But when Menelaus , during the fight, seized him by the horsehair crest of the helmet and began to drag him, Aphrodite came and broke the strap of the helmet, so that it came away empty in Menelaus ' hand, and then, to escape Menelaus ' renewed attack, the goddess hid Paris in a mist, and took him to his own bedroom in the city, where he soon met Helen in a kind of duel that suited him better. That was, generally speaking, the kind of engagement which interested Paris, far more, no doubt, than the war which, as they say, he had himself caused. So while Hector and others were seen making superhuman efforts in the battlefield, Paris could occupy himself at length attending his armour, shield, and bow in the palace, with Helen sitting beside him.

    Paris, who is frequently seen aiming his arrows at several Achaean warriors including Diomedes whom he wounded, killed many men in battle. After the death of Hector , Polydamas, the same man who so many times had given Hecto r tactical counsel in battle, recommended now to give back Helen and her wealth, lest the city be destroyed. But the Trojans assembled, though approving his proposal, did not dare to defy the sweet prince Paris. So he, talking in council, called Polydamas a coward more than once, and it was then that Paris was accused of being too brave.

    It was fated that Achilles would die short after the death of Hector , and he who fulfilled that prophecy was the archer Paris, who shot him in the ankle. However, some say that it was Apollo who did this, and still others say that both Apollo and Paris killed him. But no man could kill another had not a god allowed it. There are also those who say that Achilles died in a different way: He fell in love with Polyxena, a daughter of Priam, and wishing to marry her, he came for an interview with her brothers Paris and Deiphobusand they treacherously murdered him when they met. It is on account of this, they assert, that Polyxenawas, after the sack of Troy, slaughtered on the grave of Achilles by the Achaeans. In any case, Paris is said to have fought for the body of Achilles, being this his greatest day in war. It could be thought at the moment that there could be salvation for Troy and it was him, the weak seducer, who had avenged his brave brother Hector's death.

    At this crucial moment, in the tenth year of the war, as old prophecies were used up, new prophecies were uttered by the Achaean seers regarding the way in which Troy could be taken, and Calchas declared that the Bow & Arrows of Heracles should be fighting on the Achaean side if Troy was to be taken. That is why an embassy was sent to Lemnos  to bring Philoctetes and the bow back to the front. Philoctetes , in his way to the Trojan War , had been bitten by a water-snake in Tenedos, and as the wound did not heal the army put him ashore on the island of Lemnos , where he, by shooting birds, survived in the wilderness, or perhaps being attended by Iphimachus, a Lemnian shepherd. Philoctetes was either persuaded or forced to come with his bow. On his arrival he was healed by Podalirius, one of the sons of Asclepius , and going into battle he shot a poisoned arrow at Paris and injured him.

    The wounded prince returned to the city and spent a night in pain, for there were no remedies at Troy able to put this damage aright. So now was the time to remember Oenone's prophecies, and her talk about the miraculous healing herbs from the Phrygian forests, which the nymph knew so well and had promised to apply to whatever wound he got in war. So as his life fainted, he came back to his first love, but as a suppliant, and was received with no little amazement. He called Oenone 'wife'; he blamed fate for having dragged him to Helen , and asked Oenoneto be merciful and banish his pain. But Oenonewas too bitter to do anything like that. Instead he told him to go now to Helen and be healed by her and be blissful in her arms, and then she cursed him in various ways, as he left stumbling through the brakes of Mount Ida, which he never left, for he died there. Oenonedeplored her own wickedness and later, having found the body of the husband she had not ceased to love, she burned it and leapt onto his funeral pyre, and was herself burned to death.

    However, others say that Paris did not go to Ida, but that he instead sent a messenger to Oenone, asking her to hasten to Troy and heal him, saying also that she should forgive him, for all events happened, he argued, through the will of the gods. Her answer has been reported to be the same, that is, that he had better go to Helen, and ask her for healing. But it is told that, all the same, she left as fast as she could for Troy, willing to heal him. However, the messenger arrived first and delivered her bitter reply, and on hearing it, Paris gave up all hope and died. When she arrived, Paris, for being dead, could no longer forgive her refusal, and Oenoneunable to forgive herself, committed suicide.


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