Paris in Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
（*Pa/ris), also called Alexander , was the second son of
Priam and Hecabe. Previous to his birth Hecabe dreamed that
she had given birth to a firebrand, the flames of which
spread over the whole city. This dream was interpreted to
her by Aesacus, or according to others by Cassandra (Eur.
Andr. 298), by Apollo (Cic. De Divin. 1.21), or by a Sibyl
(Paus. 10.12.1), and was said to indicate that Hecabe should
give birth to a son, who should bring about the ruin of his
native city, and she was accordingly advised to expose the
child. Some state that the soothsayers urged Hecabe to kill
the child, but as she was unable to do so, Priam exposed
him. (Schol. ad Eur. Andr. 294, Iphig. Aul. 1285.) The boy
accordingly was entrusted to a shepherd, Agelaus, who was to
expose him on Mount Ida. But after the lapse of five days,
the shepherd, on returning to mount Ida, found the child
still alive, and fed by a she-bear. He accordingly took back
the boy, and brought him up along with his own child, and
called him Paris. (Eur. Tro. 921.) When Paris had grown up,
he distinguished himself as a valiant defender of the flocks
and shepherds, and hence received the name of Alexander, i.
e. the defender of men. He now also succeeded in discovering
his real origin, and found out his parents. (Apollod.
3.12.5.) This happened in the following manner: -- "Priam,
who was going to celebrate a funeral solemnity for Paris,
whom he believed to be dead, ordered a bull to be fetched
from the herd, which was to be given as a prize to the
victor in the games. The king's servants took the favourite
bull of Paris, who therefore followed the men, took part in
the games, and conquered his brothers. One of them drew his
sword against him, but Paris fled to the altar of Zeus
Herceius, and there Cassandra declared him to be her
brother, and Priam now received him as his son." (Hyg. Fab.
91; Serv. ad Aen. 5.370.) Paris then married Oenone, the
daughter of the river god Cebren. As she possessed prophetic
powers, she cautioned him not to sail to the country of
Helen; but as he did not follow her advice (Hom. Il. 5.64),
she promised to heal him if he should be wounded, as that
was the only aid she could afford him. (Apollod. 3.12.6;
Parthen. Erot, 4.) According to some he became, by Oenone,
the father of Corythus, who was afterwards sent off by his
mother to serve the Greeks as guide on their voyage to Troy.
(Tzetz. ad Lyc. 57.) Paris himself is further said to have
killed his son from jealousy, as he found him with Helen.
(Conon, Narr. 23; Parthen. Erot. 34.) It should, however, be
mentioned that some writers call Corythus a son of Paris by
When Peleus and Thetis solemnized their nuptials, all the
gods were invited, with the exception of Eris. But the
latter appeared, nevertheless. but not being admitted, she
threw a golden apple among the guests, with the inscription,
"to the fairest." (Tzetz. ad Lyc. 93 ; Serv. ad Aen. 1.27.)
Here, Aphrodite and Athena began to dispute as to which of
them the apple should belong. Zeus ordered Hermes to take
the goddesses to mount Gargarus, a portion of Ida, to the
beautiful shepherd Paris, who was there tending his flocks,
and who was to decide the dispute. (Eurip. Iphig. Aul. 1302,
1298 ; Paus. 5.19 § 1; Eustath. ad Hom. p. 986.) Hera
promised him the sovereignty of Asia and great riches,
Athena great glory and renown in war, and Aphrodite the
fairest of women, Helen, in marriage. Hereupon Paris
declared Aphrodite to be the fairest and deserving of the
golden apple. This judgment called forth in Hera and Athena
fierce hatred of Troy. (Hom. Il. 24.25, 29; Schol. ad Eurip.
Hecub. 637, Troad. 925, &c., Helen. 23, &c., Androm. 284;
Hyg. Fab. 92; Lucian, Dial. Deor. 20.) Under the protection
of Aphrodite, Paris now carried off Helen, the wife of
Menelaus, from Sparta. (Hom. Il. 3.46, &c.; Apollod.
3.12.6.) The accounts of this rape are not the same in all
writers, for according to some Helen followed her seducer
willingly and without resistance, owing to the influence of
Aphrodite (Hom. Il. 3.174), while Menelaus was absent in
Crete (Eur. Tro. 939); some say that the goddess deceived
Helen, by giving to Paris the appearance of Menelaus
(Eustath. ad Hom. p. 1946); according to others Helen was
carried off by Paris by force, either during a festival or
during the chase. (Lycoph. 106; Serv. ad Acn. 1.526; Dict.
Cret. 1.3; Ptolem. Hephaest. 4.) Respecting the voyage of
Paris to Greece, there likewise are different accounts.
Once, it is said, Sparta was visited by a famine, and the
oracle declared that it should not cease, unless the sons of
Prometheus, Lycus and Chimaereus, who were buried at Troy,
were propitiated. Menelaus accordingly went to Troy, and
Paris afterwards accompanied him from Troy to Delphi.
(Lycoph. 132; Eustath. ad Hom. p. 521.) Others say that
Paris involuntarily killed his beloved friend Antheus, and
therefore fled with Menelaus to Sparta. (Lycoph. 134, &c.)
The marriage between Paris and Helen was consummated in the
island of Cranae, opposite to Gytheium, or at Salamis. (Hom.
Il. 3.445; Paus. 3.22.2; Lycoph. 110.) On his return with
his bride to Troy, Paris passed through Egypt and Phoenicia,
and at length arrived in Troy with Helen and the treasures
which he had treacherously taken from the hospitable house
of Menelaus. (Hom. Od. 4.228, Il. 6.291; Hdt. 2.113; Dict.
Cret. 1.5.) In regard to this journey the accounts again
differ, for according to the Cypria Paris and Helen reached
Troy three days after their departure (Hdt. 2.117), whereas,
according to later traditions, Helen did not reach Troy at
all, for Zeus and Hera allowed only a phantom resembling her
to accompany Paris to Troy, while the real Helen was carried
to Proteus in Egypt, and remained there until she was
fetched by Menelaus. (Eurip. Elect. 1280, &c., Helen. 33,
&c., 243, 584, 670; Hdt. 2.118, 120; Lycoph. 113; Philostr.
Her. 2.20, Vit. Apoll. 4.16; Serv. ad Aen. 1.651, 2.592.)
The carrying off of Helen from Sparta gave rise to the
Trojan war. When the Greeks first appeared before Troy,
Paris was bold and courageous (li. 3.16, &c.); but when
Menelaus advanced against him, he took to flight. As Hector
upbraided him for his cowardice, he offered to fight in
single combat with Menelaus for the possession of Helen
(3.70). Menelaus accepted the challenge, and Paris though
conquered was removed from the field of battle by Aphrodite
(3.380). The goddess then brought Helen back to him, and as
she as well as Hector stirred hint up, he afterwards
returned to battle, and slew Menesthius (6.503, 7.2, &c.).
He steadily refused to give up Helen to the Greeks, though
he was willing to restore the treasures he had stolen at
Sparta (7.347, &c.). Homer describes Paris as a handsome
man, as fond of the female sex and of music, and as not
ignorant of war, but as dilatory and cowardly, and detested
by his own friends for having brought upon them the fatal
war with the Greeks. He killed Achilles by a stratagem in
the sanctuary of the Thymbraean Apollo (Hom. Il. 22.359;
Dict. Cret. 4.11; Serv. ad Aen. 3.85, 322, 6.57); and when
Troy was taken, he himself was wounded by Philoctetes with
an arrow of Heracles (Soph. Philoct. 1426), and then
returned to his long abandoned first wife Oenone. But she,
remembering the wrong she had suffered, or according to
others being prevented by her father, refused to heal the
wound, or could not heal it as it had been inflicted by a
poisoned arrow. He then returned to Troy and died. Oenone
soon after changed her mind, and hastened after him with
remedies, but came too late, and in her grief hung herself.
(Apollod. 3.12.6; Dict. Cret. 4.19.) According to others she
threw herself from a tower, or rushed into the flames of the
funeral pile on which the body of Paris was burning.
(Lycoph. 65; Tzetz. ad Lyc. 61; Q. Smyrn. 10.467.) By
Helena, Paris is said to have been the father of Bunicus
(Bunomus or Bunochus), Corythus, Aganus, Idaeus, and of a
daughter Helena. (Dict. Cret. 5.5; Tzetz. ad Lyc. 851;
Parthen. Erot. 34; Ptolem. Hephaest. 4.) Paris was
represented in works of art as a youthful man, without a
beard and almost feminine beauty, with the Phrygian cap, and
sometimes with an apple in his hand, which he presented to
Aphrodite. (Comp. Mus. Pio-Clement. 2.37.) - A Dictionary of
Greek and Roman biography and mythology, William Smith, Ed.