The Judgement Of Paris

Despite hypoglycaemia and a disastrous mis-allocation of resources (they let non-Politarchopolans do the cooking!!!), I managed to perform this prologue and epilogue to The Judgement Of Paris during the one-and-only Purgatorio, AS (let me think now…) XXIX, in Goulburn. The middle bit was written by someone else and is not included here.

[July 1994]

Prologue to the Judgement of Paris

We live, we Western nobles, in an age
When Glory signs her name to every page;
When Hades enters not in man’s affairs,
For death the tilting jousters never snares.

We seek, desire for vict’ry’s gains above,
The triple crown of honour, truth and love,
And show, in all our striving for this goal,
Resemblance to another, older soul.

For Paris, son of Priam, Prince of Troy,
Was all we yearn to be, ‘though yet a boy;
To truth he strode, to honour through his dread,
To love above all else, his labours led.

The mighty Zeus, of Attic gods the king,
Was ne’er immune to all the lure of spring;
The daughter of a sea god caught his eye,
So begged he then the Fates to verify.

But Clotho, Atropos and Lachesis,
Presented their divine analysis,
“This woman in her time shall bear a son,
“Whose greatness shall exceed his father’s own!”

Thus warned, the god of all Olympus said,
His lady love a mortal king should wed.
He set about a wedding feast to plan,
With guests alike both god and mortal man.

The roll of guests extended from the floor,
To high above the sky, a mile or more;
For all the gods that ever were alive,
Were asked to come; or all, that is, save five:

The god of war’s attendants were denied,
And from their war-wracked pallisades they cried:
“Revenge upon the groom and bride to be,
“For slighting such an evil clan as we!”

Thence Deimos and his brother Phobos, fright,
Made dread arachnids crawl from out the night.
But Athene took the time to intervene,
Removing them before they could be seen.

So Pallor, terror lord, and Metus, fear,
With menace, caused a she-bear to appear,
But Zeus, whose love Callisto was a bear,
Invited her to talk, and take the air.

So Eris, worst of Ares’ thwarted aides,
Repaired unto the Hesperian glades,
Where found she one last apple made of gold,
Which had by chance escaped the hero’s hold.

Upon the apple’s skin these words she wrote:
“This apple to the fairest I devote”.
And last, her evil scheming near complete,
She left it at the mortal bridegroom’s feet.

The noisy crowd assembled was becalmed
As by the apple’s glister they were charmed,
Until the goddess Hera, shaking free,
Retrieved it, stating, “That will be for me!”

“For thee!” Athena screamed. “‘Tis not indeed!
“The fairest this is for, canst thou not read?
“The fattest of us all, thou mayst be,
“The fairest, none may doubt, is clear to see!”

“If clear it is,” – now Aphrodite spoke –
“Then all we here grow weary of thy joke.
“For me the apple’s meant, so let it be.”
And fought they long and cruel, these ladies three.

Then Eris spoke, in servant’s garb disguised,
To Zeus, who stood amidst the crowd, surprised.
“How then,” she asked, “might peace be made to reign?
“Has Zeus himself surrendered to the strain?”

“By Me!” he swore. “This farce will end at once!
“No piece of fruit shall make of Zeus a dunce!
“Let… Hermes find a judge to this dispute,
“Lest all the gods be cast in disrepute!”

“If I,” said Hermes then, “must fill the role
“Of arbiter for such a rigmarole,
“My chances for survival will be thin,
“The losers in their wrath shall do me in!

“But let me find a sorry mortal dupe,
“To do the job – and save me from the soup!
“A simpleton, perhaps, whose life is dull;
“He’ll miss it less than one whose days were full!”

And Hermes, with the goddesses in tow,
Flew off to find some pastoral tableau,
Where stood a shepherd boy; and Hermes said,
“This lad will do, to judge them my stead.

“A minor Prince, of little consequence,
“Reduced to guarding sheep for some offence.
“He’ll make a choice, and when the winner’s crowned,
“The losers’ rage will put him in the ground!”

Epilogue to the Judgement of Paris

“So what of Paris then?” I hear you ask.
“He has, it seems, survived his painful task…”
To whisper thus, it shows your schooling lacks
For cov’rage of those Grecian maniacs.

For Aphrodite’s gift of precious love
Requir’d King Meneleus get the shove:
That “fairest mortal maid” was not a maid;
Her husband was not glad to be betrayed.

To rescue her, a thousand ships were sent;
To fight her war, a decade’s years were spent.
By honour bound, a dozen armies vied;
For love alone, ten thousand soldiers died.

And Paris, seeing all his choice had wrought,
Yet lived until the final clash was fought,
When fell the prince, to poisoned arrows lost;
As seen so long ago in Hera’s boast.

But never mind the sorrows of the past:
We nobles have a present yet more vast.
I bid you stand, and cheer the players’ arts,
We thank you for the laughter in your hearts!