Nowadays, a person is beautiful if he/she fits a defined set of criteria, yet, as we learn in Umberto Ecco's History of Beauty, beauty is an ever-changing concept that has been given many names throughout history. 


The universal myth of Paris' Judgement, which sets the stage for the Trojan War, shows us how complex it can be to determine, who is the most beautiful being. One day, Zeus picks a golden apple from a fruit bowl during a feast on Mount Olympus. On the apple is written: "For the most beautiful". Hera, Athena and Aphrodite each expect Zeus to give her the apple. To avoid disputes, Zeus decides to leave the decision up to a human, Paris. To win the apple, each goddess promises Paris an invaluable present: Hera offers political power, Athena offers limitless wisdom, and Aphrodite offers Paris the gift of being loved by the most beautiful woman on earth. Paris gives the apple to Aphrodite and soon meets his fate by falling in love with Helene of Troy. 

This universal myth shows how difficult it is to define beauty, as beyond Zeus' unease to choose between three women he doesn't want to offend, symbolically each Goddess incarnates a specific concept of beauty. Helen of Troy was considered the most beautiful women on earth, but could have competed neither with Athena, goddess of beauty and wisdom, nor Aphrodite, goddess of love, beauty and pleasure, nor Hera, queen of the skies, goddess of women, marriage and childbirth. 

© 2020 by Vethan Sautour.