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Paris Ailing

I can’t stand Paris. There’s absolutely nothing to like about him. Not only is his adulterous affair with Helen the sole cause of war between the Argives and the Trojans, he constantly flaunts himself like a peacock then retreats behind other soldiers at the first sign of danger.

The two lovers of Helen – Menelaus, her old husband, and Paris, the man who stole her away – meet to battle face to face in a winner take all fight to the death at the end of Book 3. Halfway through the battle, with both armies watching, Menelaus’ sword breaks. Yet even with the distinct advantage of having a defenseless enemy, Paris can’t even lay so much as a finger on him. Menelaus actually ends up grabbing him by the helmet and tossing him around like a rag doll. Seeing that Paris’ loss is inevitable, the goddess Aphrodite swoops in to his rescue and sneaks him off the battlefield to lay him down gently in his bedroom.

This has got to be one of the most humiliating things imaginable. It also serves to make me and everyone else hate Paris even more. After her dishonorable actions, Aphrodite panics and does the one thing she does best: Stir up sexual feelings. She runs off to find Helen and gets her to visit Paris in his bedroom… but Helen isn’t falling for it this time.

You see, before his cowardly defeat and retreat from battle, Paris used to brag to her that he could beat up her old husband Menelaus. And now, he’s been exposed. For the first time since she left Menelaus, she realizes that although Paris might have a pretty face, he’s nothing more than a preening little pansy.  Her words to him when she sees him lying there are brutal:

 

So, home from the wars?

Oh would to god you’d died there, brought down

by that great soldier, my husband long ago.


Ouch. Hearing your wife tell you that her old husband is a better man than you and that she wishes he killed you… That’s got to be the worst insult any man could ever hear.

And lest you think that it wasn’t Paris’ fault that Aphrodite took him from battle, Helen asks him if he’d be willing to go back out and fight again. Paris replies:

 

No more dear one… but come –

let’s go to bed, let’s lose ourselves in love!

 

I can’t stand Paris.

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