(Πάρις), also called Alexander (Ἀλέξανδρος). The second son of Priam, king of Troy, by his wife Hecuba. When his mother, being about to give birth to a son, had dreamed that she brought forth a torch which set all Ilium in flames, the soothsayer Aesacus declared that the child would prove the ruin of his country, and recommended its exposure (Eurip. Andr.298; Div.i. 21). As soon as born, the child was given to a servant to be left on Ida to perish. He obeyed, but, on returning at the end of five days, he found that a bear had been nursing the infant. Struck with this strange event, he took home the infant, reared him as his own son, and named him Paris. When Paris grew up he distinguished himself by his strength and courage in repelling robbers from the flocks, and the shepherds, in consequence, named him Alexander (Man-protector), or, according to the Greek form, Ἀλέξανδρος (ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀλέξειν τοὺς ἄνδρας). In this state of seclusion, too, he united himself to the nymph Oenon, whose fate is elsewhere related. (See Oenon.) Their happiness was soon disturbed. At the marriage of Peleus and Thetis, the goddess of Discord, who had not been invited to partake of the entertainment, showed her displeasure by throwing into the assembly of the gods who were at the wedding celebration a golden apple, on which were written the words Ἡ καλὴ λαβέτω, Let the beauty (among you) take me. Her, Athen, and Aphrodit laying claim to it, and Zeus being unwilling to decide, the god commanded Hermes to lead the three deities to Mount Ida, and to intrust the decision of the affair to the shepherd Alexander, whose judgment was to be final. The goddesses appeared before him, and each, to influence his decision, made him an alluring offer of future advantage, Her by the promise of a kingdom, Athen by the gift of intellectual superiority and martial renown, and Aphrodit by offering him the fairest woman in the world for his wife. To Aphrodit he assigned the prize, and brought upon [p. 1176] [figure in text: Paris. (Aeginetan Marbles.)]
himself, in consequence, the unrelenting enmity of her two disappointed rivals, which was extended also to his whole family and the entire Trojan race.
Soon after this event, Priam proposed a contest among his sons and other princes, and promised to reward the conqueror with one of the finest bulls on Mount Ida. Persons were sent to procure the animal, and it was found in the possession of Paris, who reluctantly yielded it up. The shepherd, desirous of obtaining again this favourite animal, went to Troy, and entered the lists of the combatants. Having proved successful against every competitor, and having gained an advantage over Hector himself, that prince, irritated at seeing himself conquered by an unknown stranger, pursued him closely, and Paris must have fallen a victim to his brother's resentment had he not fled to the altar of Zeus. This place of refuge preserved his life; and Cassandra, the daughter of Priam, struck with the similarity of the features of Paris to those of her brothers, inquired his birth and his age. From these circumstances she soon discovered that he was her brother, and as such she introduced him to her father and to his children. Priam, thereupon, forgetful of the alarming predictions of Aesacus, acknowledged Paris as his son, and all enmity instantly ceased between the newcomer and Hector. Not long after this, at the instigation of Aphrodit, who had not forgotten her promise to him, Paris proceeded on a voyage to Greece, from which the soothsaying Helenus and Cassandra had in vain endeavoured to deter him. The ostensible object of the voyage was to procure information respecting his father's sister Hesion, who had been given in marriage by Hercules to his follower Telamon, the monarch of Salamis. The real motive, however, which prompted the enterprise, was a wish to obtain, in the person of Helen, then the fairest woman of her time, a fulfilment of what Aphrodit had offered him when he was deciding the contest of beauty. Arriving at Sparta, where Menelas, the husband of Helen, was reigning, he met with a hospitable reception; but, Menelas soon after having sailed away to Crete, the Trojan prince availed himself of his absence, seduced Helen, and bore her away to his native city, together with a large portion of the wealth of her husband. Hence ensued the war of Troy, which ended in the total destruction of that illfated city. See Trojan War.
Paris, though represented in general as effeminate and vain of his personal appearance, yet distinguished himself during the siege of Troy by wounding Diomedes, Machaon, Antilochus, and Palamedes, and subsequently by discharging the dart which proved fatal to Achilles. Aphrodit took him under her special protection, and, in the single combat with Menelas, rescued him from the vengeance of the latter. On the capture of Troy, Paris was wounded by Philoctetes with one of the arrows of Heracles, and, falling ill, returned to Oenon, whom he had so long before abandoned. Resenting her wrongs she refused to heal him, and he returned to Troy, where he died.