60. Eris’ golden apple of discord

Once upon a time, at the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, amidst Kheiron’s groves in the lofty-peaked mounts of the Haimonians, the gods and goddesses gave their attendance to honour the fair-armed bride, and at the command of Zeus, a smiling Ganymede poured the nourishing wine to all present, while the Muses sang the marriage songs.

The groves of Kheiron witnessed the coming of Hera the queen of Heaven and also the splendorous Apollo. Surrounded in amorous perfumed air arrived Aphrodite, followed by Peitho holding a bridal wreath. Relieving her brow from her mighty helmet came the flashing-eyed Athene, who was albeit untaught of marriage. Everyone was honoured, save Eris the goddess of strife, for she only was unwanted, uninvited and unhonoured.

As a cow stung by a blood-thirsty gadfly, leaves the pasture and roams the forlorn bushes; similarly, Eris, smarting from the wound of being unwelcomed, left her abode and wandered in fuming resentment. Overcome by the furious pains of humiliation, she struck her hand on the rocky earth, as if to awaken the ghastly creatures from the pit of the netherworld, so that they may avenge her for being brushed aside from attending the wedding banquet. In agonizing anger, she walked, turned, sat, and stood, but her raging restlessness found no peace.

Then suddenly, she thought of the golden apples of the Hesperides. Her vengeful mind devised a subtle scheme of planting discord. Swiftly, Eris fetched a golden apple and inscribed on it the word “Kallistēi” meaning “For the fairest”. Then, she threw the golden apple, which rolled in front of Hera, Aphrodite, and Athene. Each longed to possess the apple, as each thought themselves to be the fairest. A vanity-fueled bitter quarrel broke up between the goddesses. But Eris was happy that the golden apple had disrupted the banquet, although she was unaware that the apple had triggered, future greater woes of the Trojan War.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

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