Once there was a beautiful queen named Leda. She was so beautiful that the king of the gods, Zeus, wanted to play hide the sausage. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge. This really isn’t much of a compliment because Zeus would have sex with anything and anyone. And did. He really, really did. Gods don’t care about species or gender. There are many stories about Zeus’s appetite for men and women. He had a good PR person so the story of the affair with the asparagus is less well known. It really is a tragic tale, at least for the plant. Anyway, Zeus had to disguise himself because his wife Hera might cut off his balls if she found out (and the balls took time to regrow he knew from experience), and Leda herself wanted to actually stay faithful to her husband.
Zeus disguised himself as a swan and when Leda came down to the river to bathe, because bath tubs weren’t invited way back in the day, he raped her or it was mutual. It totally depends on the art work. Or the mechanics of swan/human interbreeding so let’s not go there.
Well nine months later, Leda gave birth to two eggs, gold eggs. This apparently happens when you have sex with a god who is in the shape of a swan. The eggs hatched and there were four children. Two were boys – Castor and Pollux – and two were girls – Clytemnestra and Helen. One girl and one boy were immortal and the others were not.
Leda had lots of eggs apparently.
Far away in another country, there was another king and queen. Priam and Hecuba. They ruled Troy and had a great many children, somewhere around 50, an even number of boys and girls. Hopefully not all from Hecuba. Hecuba gave birth to another son. Unfortunately, the royal couple was told that the son would lead to the downfall of Troy. They abandoned him on a mountain. Right on cue a nameless and childless shepherd and his wife showed up to adopt the lad. You think royalty would’ve known better for this happens all the damn time. Just kill the kid already.
Meanwhile, Helen had grown so beautiful that every time a man saw her he let out a wolf whistle and kidnapped her. This caused her brothers to get very tired because they had to rescue her each and every time. Then there was the whole question of whether or not she was virgin, but considering she was half divine she most likely had a self-repairing hymen. Sometimes, her brothers wished this wasn’t the case.
Since Zeus was not taking responsibility for his daughter (a tale as old as time), Helen’s step-father figure he would make her someone else’s problem by marrying her off. All the Greek kings and their brothers came knocking, including Menelaus whose brother Agamemnon had married Clytemnestra (maybe after he made her widow), and Odysseus whose kingdom was so small that Rocky would only use it as a training exercise. Helen’s stepdad watched in terror as the Kings started acting like male dogs around a bitch in heat, just with more chest thumping.
Odysseus noticed this and made an offer. “I know,” he said “that you will not chose me because my kingdom is so small, but if you give me Helen’s far less beautiful cousin Penelope –she seems really quiet and quite skilled at the loom –I’ll tell you what to do.”
The king spit on his hand and held it out for Odysseus to shake. After wiping his hand clean, Odysseus said, “Make all the kings swear a holy oath that if someone steals Helen, they help get her back.”
The king did this and then chose Menelaus for Helen’s husband, keeping things in the family. Nine months later the newlyweds had a little girl. They named her Hermione.
No, this was before Harry Potter.
Then the gods all went to a wedding, and I’m not exactly sure when this wedding was but it was sometime around this time. You know that time with Helen and Paris, not this time, though I suppose time would be flexible for gods, so maybe it was this time. Did you understand all that?
Anyways, not all the gods. Discord wasn’t invited, and she was related to the fairy from Sleeping Beauty. She showed up during the middle of the wedding feast and threw an apple of gold onto the table. She knew how to make an entrance. The apple said “to the fairest”.
All the goddess started fighting for it. Eventually it was whittled down to three goddesses– Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite. They went to Zeus and asked him to settle it. Zeus might have been a dog, but he wasn’t a dumb one. He had been a sucker once when Hera asked him whether her toga made her look fat. Never again. He looked down from his throne and saw a young shepherd by the name of Paris – yes, that Paris - tending his flock. “Ask him,” Zeus said and then went to ogle the nymphs. He did this as a turkey.
Paris was quite surprised to see three goddesses show up and ask him who the fairest of them was. Instead of doing the smart thing of running the other way as fast as possible while pretending not to understand Greek, Turkish, Minoan or whatever, Paris asked for time to think. Come back in half an hour, he suggested.
Like anyone who really wants something and can bribe people, the goddesses didn’t quite follow his instructions. Hera was the first to return to offer him something. “I’ll make you king of the world,” she offered before leaving. Athena arrived shortly afterwards. “I’ll make you the greatest general in the known universe,” she offered before leaving. Aphrodite appeared. “I’ll make the most beautiful women in the world fall in love with you,” she offered. She was a madam after all. When the three showed back up, Paris gave the apple to Aphrodite. This just goes to show that he must have been one of those really handsome, stupid people. As the greatest king or general, he still would have gotten the most beautiful woman in the world.
The other two goddesses sneered, made snide remarks, and then got out the chess pieces to plot revenge.