Now, consider the following: You’re hosting a huge banquet to celebrate the marriage of the hero Peleus to the water nymph Thetis; this is intended to be a day of great feasting, a party like none Mt. Olympus has ever seen before.
We’re talking red carpet; big names and even bigger egos. A veritable who’s who of cosmic cause célèbres.
To not be invited is the ultimate snub.
So who don’t you invite?
Here’s a short description of the Goddess Eris:
Strife whose wrath is relentless, she is the sister and companion of murderous Ares, she who is only a little thing at the first, but thereafter grows until she strides on the earth with her head striking heaven. She then hurls down bitterness equally between both sides as she walks through the onslaught, making men’s pain heavier (Illiad, Book IV).
And then there are her children:
And hateful Eris bore painful Ponos (“Hardship”),
Lethe (“Forgetfulness”) and Limos (“Starvation”)
and the tearful Algea (“Pains”),
Phonoi (“Murders”), and Androktasiai (“Manslaughters”),
Dysnomia (“Anarchy”) and Ate (“Ruin”), near one another,
and Horkos (“Oath”), who most afflicts men on earth,
[who] then [are] willing [to] swear false oaths.
– Hesiod’s Theogeny
How’s that for a résumé?
Guess who didn’t get invited to the party…
Eris was pissed, and understandably so.
However, her revenge would have far-reaching consequences, which echo to this very day.
Hell, it was so consequential, it even effected Brad Pitt.
Yes, even Brad Pitt.
Eris took a Golden Apple and inscribed one word on it: kallistē.
Kallistē, in ancient Greek, translates to “For the Fairest”.
And as non-nonchalantly as Eris is known to be, she tossed this beautiful fruit, this Apple of Discord, right into the party.
Let the catfight ensue…
Now, let’s look at our combatants:
First, there is Hera: Wife of Zeus, Queen of the Gods, the embodiment of Power.
Second, there is Athena; born from Zeus’ forehead, the Lady of the Owl and the Olive, the Goddess of Wisdom.
Finally, there is Aphrodite: born from the foam where Uranus’ castrated genitals hit the waters, She is Beauty personified.
Three Goddess, all vying for One Apple. Each one certain that they are indeed “the Fairest of Them All.”
And who will decide the winner? Who could possibly serve as a judge?
Enter poor Paris, prince of Troy.
Each Goddess tempted Paris with their respective powers (but not before parading naked for him). Which one would he pick?
Power? Wisdom? Beauty?
What’s a prince to do?
Aphrodite sealed the deal, not with a kiss, but with a promise to Paris:
The love of the most beautiful woman on Earth.
Her name was Helen, and there was only one hitch:
She was already married…
And the rest, as they say, is history.
From the snubbing of Eris came the Apple of Discord. From the Apple of Discord came the judgement of Paris. From the judgement of Paris came the “abduction” of Helen. And from the abduction of Helen came the Trojan War.
Yes, the Trojan War.
Helen’s whose face could launch a thousand ship – well, her face actually launched a thousand ships.
But that’s its own two book series (the Iliad and Odyssey), though you can always cheat and watch any of the various movie versions (back to Brad Pitt).
For our purposes, the real question is: what became of Eris?
The Principia Discordia, Or How I Found Goddess and What I Did to Her When I Found Her is the first Holy Book of Discordianism, a religion disguised as a joke disguised as a religion. Or maybe the other way around. Written by Gregory Hill and Kerry Wendell Thornley, it entered the underground zeitgeist via the Illuminatus! Trilogy (Robert Anton Wilson/Bob Shea), which is a different beastie altogether.
As you may have guessed, Eris is the central deity in Discordianism, and here’s what they have to say about her:
One day Mal-2 [Gregory Hill] consulted his Pineal Gland and asked Eris if She really created all of those terrible things. She told him that She had always liked the Old Greeks, but that they cannot be trusted with historic matters. “They were,” She added, “victims of indigestion, you know.”
Suffice it to say that Eris is not hateful or malicious. But she is mischievous and does get a little bitchy at times.
On a slightly more reverential note, here is Eris’ description of Herself, also from the Principia:
I am chaos. I am the substance from which your artists and scientists build rhythms. I am the spirit with which your children and clowns laugh in happy anarchy. I am chaos. I am alive, and I tell you that you are free.
So, Eris is still alive and kicking, causing strife and malicious mischief, still tossing Apples of Discord, which probably explains a lot about the world we live in…
The Golden Apple of Discord, Jakob Jordaens, 1633