Two Acts of Troy
The Tales of Aquarius, Aquila and Gemini

Chapter 5: The Curse of the Golden Apple

Olympus was full of gaiety and music and food. The gods gave no thought to events on earth, for they were celebrating the wedding of Peleus and Thetis. All the gods were there; all, that is, but Eris, goddess of Strife. No one had invited her and she was angry with being overlooked. Into the midst of the festivities, Eris rolled a golden apple and on it were the words "For the Fairest".

"It's mine," stated Hera.

"No, it's mine," argued Athena.

"You're both wrong. It was meant for me," claimed Aphrodite.

The celebration came to a standstill as the music was drowned out by the bickering of the three goddesses. "Zeus, you decide," they all called out.

But Zeus was too wise to make a decision like that. Instead, looking down at Mount Ida, he spied a shepherd. "He will make the decision," responded the king of heaven, pointing far below. One by one, the goddesses descended to Mount Ida to make their case to their judge.

"If you choose me as the fairest I will give you power and riches beyond compare and you will rule a kingdom as large as all of Asia," offered Hera.

"If you say that I am the fairest," began Athena, "I will give you unequaled wisdom and valor and you will be invincible in battle."

Then Aphrodite stepped before the shepherd and in her most seductive voice, she said, "If you select me as the fairest, I will give you the most beautiful woman in the world to love you; the magnificent Helen."

The shepherd was young and very foolish. The love of a beautiful woman fulfilled all his sexual fantasies; he had no desire for anything else. "Aphrodite is the fairest," he proclaimed, and in so doing, he made enduring enemies of Hera and Athena.

Now it happened that this young shepherd, who was called Alexander, was really a prince of Troy. His real name was Paris and he was the son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba. Priam had fifty children, and it seemed that his dynasty would enjoy a long and prosperous reign. But one night, when Hecuba was expecting yet another child, she had a dream that she gave birth to a firebrand. It was a terrifying dream and she went to a seer to find its meaning.

"The child you are carrying will destroy Troy and all of its people," she was told. In fear, when the child was born, she took it to the slopes of Mount Ida and left it there to die of exposure. But it didn't die, for a bear found it and nursed the baby, and when humans found this child of the bear, they named him Alexander and taught him to be a shepherd.

Though he had now made enemies of Hera and Athena, Aphrodite took him under her wing. She told him the story of his birth, taught him how to charm anyone he wished for anything he wanted, and sent him to Troy to re-establish himself as prince. "Don't worry, Paris," the goddess whispered, "I will always guide you." So under his goddess' guidance, he went to Troy to meet his parents, Queen Hecuba and King Priam.

While Paris charmed his way into the graces of his family, the newlyweds Thetis and Peleus set up their home and gave birth to a son named Achilles. By all appearances it was a period of peaceful domesticity for everyone. Clytemnestra bore Agamemnon four children. First their daughter Iphigenia was born, then the twins Orestes and Electra, and a final daughter Chrysothemis. Helen bore a child to Menelaus; it was a daughter named Hermione. Even Castor and Pollux married sisters and both had sons. Pollux married Phoebe, a priestess of Athena, and their son was named Mnesileos. Castor married Hilaria, a priestess of Artemis, and their son was named Anogon. But all of this was only to be the eye of the storm.

Castor and Pollux had been acquaintances with the sons of Aphareus, whose names were Idas and Lynceus. It was a competitive relationship as are many relationships between young men. One day, when the four were together, they dared each other to rustle some cattle in Arcadia. Their crime was successful, and they decided that Idas would divide up the herd.

Idas killed one of the cows and divided it into four parts. He then announced that half of the booty would go to the one who ate his portion first, the rest would go to he who ate his portion second. Before the others could even figure out how to accomplish this, Idas had eaten his entire portion. Then he started on and finished his brother's share. Idas and Lynceus laughed. "Thanks for the help," they gloated as they drove off the entire herd.

At the time, Idas and Lynceus were engaged to two sisters, the daughters of Leusippus. Castor and Pollux knew of this man and easily found where he lived. After spying about the house, they saw that the two young women, whose names were Phoebe and Hilaira, were very lovely. Tyndareus had been telling them it was time for them to marry. Phoebe and Hilaira, both priestesses, were quite desirable as wives. If they were to abduct these young women and marry them, they would have beautiful and acceptable wives, Leusippus would have worthy sons-in-law, the young women would have comfortable homes, and they would have the last word with Idas and Lynceus. "Yes," they thought, "it was the perfect revenge." So the brothers kidnapped Phoebe and Hilaira and Pollux married Phoebe, while Castor married Hilaira.

Not long after the births of their sons, Castor and Pollux were surprised by the taunts of old acquaintances. "So you hide behind women to settle your grievances!" Derisive laughter followed the loud words. Castor grabbed his sword to go outside.

"Forget it," Pollux said as he gripped his brother's arm. Castor shook him loose and angrily went outside.

"Well, here he comes," mocked Lynceus, making Castor angrier than ever. Swinging his sword, Castor caught Lynceus off-guard. Castor's next swing with the sword was a deadly one and Lynceus lay in a pool of his own blood.

Idas looked at Castor, then at his dead brother. He ran to Lynceus to pick up his bloody body and as he held him, he looked up at Castor. "How can you show no remorse?" Idas angrily asked Castor. "It had only been a joke!" Castor's face held no remorse and instead he gripped his sword and came after Idas. Idas dropped his brother and grabbed his sword as well. The battle was short for Idas was savage in his revenge. Slashing Castor in the thigh and stopping his movement, Idas slaughtered him like the victim of a ritual sacrifice.

By this time, Pollux arrived and saw the bodies of Castor and Lynceus. Idas stood defiantly with his sword outstretched and Pollux charged and wounded him. Pollux continued his assault, lunging with his sword and cutting Idas with every move until he also bled to death.

Pollux lifted Castor's dead body and prayed to father Zeus, "Please let me share my immortality with Castor. I can't go through eternity without him."

Zeus heard his son's request and said, "If you wish to share your immortality with Castor, you must always remain with him." Pollux agreed and as he took his brother's hand, they ascended to the sky.

The death of his sons affected Tyndareus so much that he abdicated the throne. Tyndareus' word was law and Sparta was ruled by King Menelaus and Queen Helen.

Chapter 4: Helen and the Spartan Princes | Myth Index | Chapter 6: Prince Paris and Queen Helen

Tales of the Immortal Night ©2003, J.J. Kuhl


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