Golden Apple

Here is a detail of the sculpture of Pauline Borghese (see post above). She holds an apple. She is posed as Venus Victrix, or ‘Venus the Victor’. What she has won is a golden apple (made by Vulcan/Hephaestus; in some versions, at the request of Eris, the goddess of discord), who produced it to sow discontent at the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, a wedding to which she, Eris, was not invited. She contrived to set this spectacular apple in the midst of the banquet table around which sat the gods and goddesses of Olympia. Three goddesses immediately claimed it, as it had inscribed on it ‘To the Fairest’. Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite (Venus) all reached at once. The male gods knew not to get involved in that judgement, so it was suggested that the earth’s most handsome and eligible bachelor should decide. This happened to be a prince of Troy named Paris. Thus the ‘Judgement of Paris’; the apple went to Venus, since she took him aside and bribed him by promising him the world’s most beautiful woman. Alas, that woman was already married to a Greek king named Menelaus, brother of king Agamemnon of Mycenae. Her name was Helen. The rest, as they say, is history.