The Judgment of Paris

Walcot, P.  1977.  “The Judgment of Paris.”  Greece and Rome 24(1): 31-39.

Presenter: Amanda Curry


  • Sean Hipps
  • Christina Gentil
  • PC Peterson
  • Mary Catherine Pflug

19 thoughts on “The Judgment of Paris

  1. What do you think of the author’s claim that “a woman’s beauty is the cause of disaster”, referring to the Trojan War? Do you agree or disagree with his claim?

    • I disagree! I believe the claim that “a woman’s beauty is the cause of disaster” is merely an excuse for the actual reason behind the Trojan War. It’s becomes a more romanticized notion that the reason for the war was due to illicit love between two individuals, then the Greeks just wanted to fight the Trojans. It makes for a much better story than if the reason for the war was merely due to Agamemnon’s jealousy over Priam’s city of Troy, and wanting his head on a stick. By stating the culprit as a woman’s beauty, it imparts the blame of the disaster upon the female gender, who already are perceived as weaker individuals in society. It shifts the blame onto women and away from the vindictive, military craving for battle by Agamemnon and his army. On the other hand, it also makes the men look bad as it suggest it only took a beautiful woman to rattle their cages and suddenly they are involved in a 10 year-long war.

      • Your last comment is reflected in a section on page 37. The author comments about the “insidious dangers posed by physical beauty and man’s inability to resist”. So who is to blame? The woman’s beauty or the man’s lack of resistance? I thought it was an interesting step away from PC’s article where the theme was “women can’t control themselves”

        • This is such an interesting argument and I think it is very relevant to society today! I don’t think the question of “blame” is necessarily the most important part of this distinction but more important is the contrast you pointed out about presenting two different views: women’s innate sexual promiscuity vs. men as weak and unable to resist women’s beauty indicate how women are viewed. Can this be used as a reflection of the society in a broader context? Does this apply today?

          • Even today there is still uncertainty between whether it is the woman’s sexuality or the man’s lack of control that is at fault. I feel like this most defiantly applies today, especially if you consider the whole discussion on rape. Girls are often “blamed” for the rape due to wearing too revealing clothing, “she was asking for it” sort of thing. But a woman is never asking to be sexually assaulted, so its the man’s lack of resistance and control.

        • I do not think the blame is entirely aimed at either gender when it comes to Homer. I do think there is the reputation of men to fall victim to the sexualtiy of women. I am not sure I can make a distinction between either as to which to blame and if blame in my view is really a proper word to describe what occurs between men and women. I think there are cases not just in ancient history but in all of history of both genders either taking advantage of their beauty or succumbing to their inner weakness. It is in this article that Hera is discussed in how she tricked Zues into bed with the help of other gods and godesses that she tricked. I do not in any way argue what some men do because “she asked for it” is right, by no means is it. I do think there are lesser cases that women use their sexuality to persuade men or get what they want. The blame heaped on Paris could be from the notion that men are stronger then women and should be able to hold back and not let a woman decieve them. Im not sure if that is right or if there is a right answer but I would say that view about men goes along with the superiority and one step above women theme throughout our discussions lately.

          • In my poster I focus the cause more on the apple itself (though extending to that one traces it back to Eris) not on Helen, Aphrodite, or Paris. I think Paris catches a lot of hell from people because of manner throughout the story. Everyone loves to harp on Paris because he is an easy target.

  2. The author says their is nothing in the Judgement story which conflicts with the value system of heroic society. Based on his prior arguments and claims, and whatever prior knowledge you may have of the value system in antiquity, do you agree with this statement?

  3. Do you see the Judgement of Paris as being purely a beauty contest as the author does, or do you see the term “fairest” as encompassing other values, not purely physical?

    • I think the “bribe” discussion in the article is the answer to this here. The three women offer to paris not only their beauty but dowry-like sets of benefits, simplified as: Hera’s gift of power, Aphrodites’ gift of sex, and Athene’s gift of being a successful warrior. I do not know how/why the author derives the idea of these gifts, and hope to learn that from your presentation!

      • I almost feel like back then if you met a magic genie per say and were asked what three things you wanted, as a man power and wealth would be one, then women/love depending on if you had respect, and then also glory and high standing which would come in the form of being a great warrior. I feel as if I see those three wishes in many movies and resources, maybe not all together but they each pop up as a goal of a mans life. It could be possible that in this case the three things held in such high demand by men were portrayed by the godesses to Paris to see which one men truly wanted. Men can not be categorized by one male representative though, otherwise we would probably have a bad reputation.
        I could also be crazy so we can sway either way with my assesment.

  4. Do you think the author used sufficient and legitimate evidence for his argument? Why do you think he considered it “dangerous” to develop his argument further?

    • The author says that Aristarchus and Walter Leaf were wrong to deny Homer a knowledge of the Judgement story, yet points out the trickiness of analyzing literature since the rules are quite arbitrary (especially sources of such ancient quality). The danger for the author is the same danger that Aristarchus and Leaf ran into.

      • There seems to be a consensus that much of the article seemed to stray from the original thesis (and that I agree with). What do you think the repercussions of this could mean if future scholars want to refute his claims?

    • From the first paragraph, it seems as if the author’s article will be about the excerpt, analyzing the source (Homer)’s knowledge of the Judgement story, yet that train of thought doesn’t seem to follow throughout the article, instead deviating to other ideas about the actual story of the Judgement of Paris and the role of women as sexual distractions and temptations in that story. Even then, the subject isn’t exactly that because the author spends a lot of time talking about the history of Hera and her relation to Zeus, and then the detriments/benefits of being a judge and also the judged. Hopefully you’ll be able to clear it up for us!

      • I agree, it seemed the article would go along explaining Homer’s interpretation of the Judgment of Paris but seemed to drift off a bit after the intro. For me the chariot race and other Greek hero disputes compared to the Judgment of Paris made sense but I do not think it was included in the best manner. By inserting those examples in the middle of the information concerning the Judgment of Paris I felt it became a bit congested and hard to decipher the true aim. I understood the comparison but had to read it a few times just because my mind was in one place concerning Homer’s knowledge of the Judgement of Paris and then the article shifted to a complete different set of events. I think the comparisons were useful but could have possibly been inserted in a better way. I think the execution faltered a bit as the article progressed as I seemed to lose sight of the goal being reinforced.

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