Paris (mythology)

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Paris was a Trojan prince in ancient Greek mythology. His abduction of Helen from Sparta sparked the Trojan War between the Achaeans and the Trojans.

Paris was one of fifty sons of King Priam of Troy. Before Paris was born his mother Hecuba, dreamed that she have birth to a flaming torch which was interpreted as meaning that he would be the downfall of Troy and the chief priestess of Apollo urged that the infant should be destroyed. Neither Priam or Hecuba could bring themselves to kill the boy and the task was given to Priam's chief herdsman, who also unable to lift a blade against the baby, left him exposed on a mountain so that he might die of starvation and exposure. However, he was suckled by a she-bear and when the herdsman returned nine days later he was surprised to find the baby still alive. Taking him home in a leather bag (the literal meaning of 'Paris' in Greek is wallet) to raise him as a son, but showing Priam the tongue of a dog as proof that the boy was dead. Growing up as a herdsman, Paris was keen on bulls fighting against each other and challenged others to beat his champion prize bull for which he offered a golden crown as a prize. The god Ares took up the challenge and disguising himself as a bull, won easily. Paris rewarded him immediately and for his honesty was asked to judge which of three goddesses - Hera, Athena and Aphrodite - was the most beautiful. Each goddess tried to bribe Paris but he chose Aphrodite who had promised him Helen of Sparta as a reward. Unfortunately Helen was married to King Menelaus, so when Paris eloped with her back to Troy the Greeks raised an army to bring her back, thus initiating the Trojan War.

Compared to his older brother Hector, Paris was not adept in hand-to-hand combat; preferring his bow and arrow. In an early duel with Menelaus to settle the dispute, Paris is defeated but escapes through the intervention of Aphrodite. His brother Hector was later illed in combat by the greatest of the Greek warriors, Achilles, but despite his poor combat skills it is Paris who eventually kills Achilles with an arrow to his only vulnerable spot - his heel. Before the end of the war, Paris is himself killed by an arrow.

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