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Valentine’s Day and the Judgement of Paris

It’s Friday, February 14th, and it’s Valentine’s Day! Millions of people across the United States and throughout the world will be spending a small fortune on Valentine’s Day chocolates, candies, flowers, and dinners to express their affection to their one true love.

But what if you what if you only love the person from afar, and they don’t necessarily love you back??

That was the problem faced by a handsome young man named Paris eons ago. He fell in love. He fell in love, hard. And with a real beauty. Not just any beauty. The most beautiful woman in the world. Literally! Paris fell in love with Helen of Troy, who was renowned for being the Most Beautiful Woman In the World at that time. Problem was, she wasn’t a resident of Troy, where Paris was the Prince, and the most eligible bachelor in the land.

Helen belonged to a rival country, Sparta. Beyond that, she wasn’t exactly single and ready to mingle. She was married. And married to not just anyone. She was married to the King of Sparta, the fearsome Menelaus.

So what’s a love-struck young Prince Paris supposed to do? Just forget about Helen and pick one of the other beautiful ladies from Troy, instead? Start his own version of The Bachelor? No! Not if the Greek Gods had anything to say about it!

Paris brought his complaint to Zeus, the King of the Greek Gods. Zeus, being the crafty King of Gods that he was, made Paris a deal. You help me, and I’ll help you. You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.

You see, Zeus had his own pre-Valentine’s Day problems to deal with. His three best gals, Hera (Zeus‘ sometimes wife, and Queen of the Gods), Athena (Zeus’ warrior daughter from another Greek Goddess baby-mama), and Aphrodite (Zeus‘ sometimes flame, and the Greek Goddess of Love), were all giving Zeus the business, asking him to choose which one of them is the Most Beautiful Greek Goddess! Even Zeus, the King of the Greek Gods, knows better to choose between his wife, his daughter, and his mistress!

So Zeus made a deal with Paris. You choose between the three Greek Goddesses and decide which of them is the most beautiful. Give the one that you choose this golden apple. When you choose, I’ll reward you with something really great, anything you want!

Aphrodite, not wanting to lose the beauty contest and tarnish her reputation as the Goddess of Love, takes things a step further. She tells Paris that if she chooses her, she’ll make sure he gets the one reward he truly wants. She’ll make sure Zeus, who wasn’t exactly famous for honoring his word, would give Paris the one woman he truly wanted, Helen of Sparta, turning her into Helen of Troy!

Paris wastes no time, and gives Aphrodite the golden apple. Aphrodite rejoices! Zeus is off the hook! Now, Paris wants Helen! Only problem is, the Greek Gods and Goddesses are always a bit crafty and mischievous in the way they interact with humans, so Aphrodite tells Paris that Helen is his, as long as he can get himself into Troy and steal her away from King Menelaus. As in Trojan Horse. As in Trojan War. And the rest is history!

And that history is depicted in this magnificent antique tapestry from Persian Gallery New York depicting the climactic moment in which Paris is about to decide which goddess gets the golden apple. To view the piece in full, and to browse other amazing antique tapestries on our website, click through the link below!

Antique 17th Century Brussels Mythological Tapestry, size 12’0″ x 13’9″, depicting The Judgement of Paris