Eris (mythology)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Eris (Greek Ἔρις, "Strife") is the Greek goddess of strife, her name being translated into Latin as Discordia. Her Greek opposite is Harmonia, whose Latin counterpart is Concordia. Homer equated her with the war-goddess Enyo, whose Roman counterpart is Bellona.

The most famous tale of Eris recounts her initiating the Trojan War. The goddesses Hera, Athena and Aphrodite had been invited along with the rest of Olympus to the forced wedding of Peleus and Thetis, who would become the parents of Achilles, but Eris had been snubbed because of her troublemaking inclinations.

The classic fairy tale Sleeping Beauty is partly inspired by Eris's role in the wedding of Peleus and Thetis. Like Eris, a malevolent fairy curses a princess after failing to be invited to the princess' christening.

Characteristics in Greek mythology

In Hesiod's Works and Days 11–24, two different goddesses named Eris are distinguished:

So, after all, there was not one kind of Strife alone, but all over the earth there are two. As for the one, a man would praise her when he came to understand her; but the other is blameworthy: and they are wholly different in nature. For one fosters evil war and battle, being cruel: her no man loves; but perforce, through the will of the deathless gods, men pay harsh Strife her honour due.
But the other is the elder daughter of dark Night (Nyx), and the son of Cronus who sits above and dwells in the aether, set her in the roots of the earth: and she is far kinder to men. She stirs up even the shiftless to toil; for a man grows eager to work when he considers his neighbour, a rich man who hastens to plough and plant and put his house in good order; and neighbour vies with his neighbour as he hurries after wealth. This Strife is wholesome for men. And potter is angry with potter, and craftsman with craftsman, and beggar is jealous of beggar, and minstrel of minstrel.

In Hesiod's Theogony (226–232), Strife, the daughter of Night, is less kindly spoken of as she brings forth other personifications as her children:

But abhorred Eris ("Strife") bare painful Ponos ("Toil/Labor"), Lethe ("Forgetfulness") and Limos ("Famine") and tearful Algos ("Pains/Sorrows"), Hysminai ("Fightings/Combats") also, Makhai ("Battles"), Phonoi ("Murders/Slaughterings"), Androctasiai ("Manslaughters"), Neikea ("Quarrels"), Pseudologoi ("Lies/Falsehoods"), Amphilogiai ("Disputes"), Dysnomia ("Lawlessness") and Ate ("Ruin/Folly"), all of one nature, and Horkos ("Oath") who most troubles men upon earth when anyone wilfully swears a false oath.

The other Strife is presumably she who appears in Homer's Iliad Book IV; equated with Enyo as sister of Ares and so presumably daughter of Zeus and Hera:

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 hurled down bitterness equally between both sides as she walked through the onslaught making men's pain heavier. She also has a son whom she named Strife.

Enyo is mentioned in Book 5, and Zeus sends Strife to rouse the Achaeans in Book 11, of the same work.

The most famous tale of Eris recounts her initiating the Trojan War by causing the Judgement of Paris. The goddesses Hera, Athena and Aphrodite had been invited along with the rest of Olympus to the forced wedding of Peleus and Thetis, who would become the parents of Achilles, but Eris had been snubbed because of her troublemaking inclinations.

She therefore (as mentioned at the Kypria according to Proclus as part of a plan hatched by Zeus and Themis) tossed into the party the Apple of Discord, a golden apple inscribed τῇ καλλίστῃ (tē(i) kallistē(i))  – "For the most beautiful one", or "To the Fairest One" – provoking the goddesses to begin quarreling about the appropriate recipient. The hapless Paris, Prince of Troy, was appointed to select the fairest by Zeus. The goddesses stripped naked to try to win Paris' decision, and also attempted to bribe him. Hera offered political power; Athena promised infinite wisdom; and Aphrodite tempted him with the most beautiful woman in the world: Helen, wife of Menelaus of Sparta. While Greek culture placed a greater emphasis on prowess and power, Paris chose to award the apple to Aphrodite, thereby dooming his city, which was destroyed in the war that ensued.

In Nonnus' Dionysiaca, 2.356, when Typhon prepares to battle with Zeus:

Eris ("Strife") was Typhon's escort in the melée, Nike ("Victory") led Zeus to battle.

Another story of Eris includes Hera, and the love of Polytekhnos and Aedon. They claimed to love each other more than Hera and Zeus were in love. This angered Hera, so she sent Eris to rack discord upon them. Polytekhnos was finishing off a chariot board, and Aedon a web she had been weaving. Eris said to them, "Whosoever finishes thine task last shall have to present the other with a female servant!" Aedon won. But Polytekhnos was not happy by his defeat, so he came to Khelidon, Aedon's sister, and raped her. He then disguised her as a slave, presenting her to Aedon. When Aedon discovered this was indeed her sister, she chopped up Polytekhnos' son and fed him to Polytekhnos. The gods were not pleased, so they turned them all into birds.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Eris (mythology)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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