This article accompanies the fable
The Judgment of Paris
The Original Judgment of Paris
Trojan prince Paris was asked to judge who was the most beautiful goddess in the heavens. He chose Aphrodite over Hera and Athena and was rewarded by her with the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen.
Except that she was already married. As was he. This set in motion the classic tale of slaughter known as Homer's Iliad. Helen’s enraged husband, Menelaus, led the Greek armies against Troy, sacking it and killing its inhabitants. Helen was returned home, the affair over.
Les Amours de Pâris et d'Hélène, painted in 1788, immediately before that other classic tale of slaughter known as the French Revolution.
The idea of three choices or gifts has been a staple of literature ever since - three wishes, three musketeers, three oranges... It can be seen in Christian legends such as the Gifts of the Magi, where Three Wise Men come bearing gold, frankincense and myrrh in Matthew 2. The symbolism of their gifts is much debated but in terms of theology they work best as wealth, wisdom and immortality respectively.