Paris, the Trojan Prince

The Loves of Helen and Paris. Artist: David, Jacques Louis (1748-1825)
The Loves of Helen and Paris. Found in the collection of Louvre, Paris. Heritage Images/Getty Images / Getty Images

Before there was a celebrity named Paris or a city of lights sharing the name (see II), there was another famous Paris connected with the most famous war in history. Paris (Alexandros/Alexander) was the son of King Priam of Troy and Queen Hecuba. Hecuba had a dream about the great trouble her unborn child would cause, so when Paris was born, instead of raising him, she ordered him exposed on Mt. Ida. Normally exposure of an infant meant death, but Paris was lucky. He was suckled by a she-bear, then raised to adulthood by a shepherd. (If this sounds familiar, it should. In Rome's founding legend, the twins Romulus and Remus were suckled by a wild she-wolf, and then raised by a shepherd.)

Discord, in an act worthy of her name, gave a golden apple to "the most beautiful goddess," but neglected to name her. She left that choice to the goddesses, but they couldn't decide among themselves. When they couldn't prevail upon Zeus to decide who was most beautiful, they turned to Paris. The 3 goddesses vying for the honor were Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite. Each goddess offered something of great value as a bribe to make Paris name her as the most beautiful. Paris might have made his choice based on looks, but he chose the ​beauty goddess Aphrodite for her bribe. She rewarded him by making the most beautiful mortal, Helen, wife of Menelaus, fall in love with him. Paris then abducted Helen and took her to Troy, thereby starting the Trojan War.

Death of Paris

In the war, Paris (Achilles' killer) was fatally wounded by one of Hercules' arrows.

Ptolemy Hephaestion (Ptolemaeus Chennus) says Menelaus killed Paris.

Philoctetes died bitten by a serpent and Alexander was killed by Menelaus with a blow of the spear in his thigh.

Photius (9th century Byzantine patriarch) Bibliotheca - Epitome of Ptolemy Hephaestion