The Judgement of Paris (c. 1529) by Doman (Thomas) HeringBode-Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
What did the world actually look like before there was any Next Top Model and before there was a jury of three deciding every year who was the fairest of them all? Right, it was chaos and war.
Just as an example – once upon a time there was a wedding party where the goddesses Hera, Athene and Aphrodite were fighting over which of them was the most beautiful ...
... so poor old Paris, the son of the King of Troy, had to decide. It was all too much for him, so he listened to what the ladies had to offer.
Hera promised him domination of the world. Athene offered him wisdom. And Aphrodite offered him the most beautiful woman in the world.
So Paris, young, naive and hormone-driven, chose Aphrodite, hoping that she would set him up to marry the beautiful Helen.
It was not a wise choice. Helen was already spoken for, the wife of the powerful King of Sparta. And we all know how that ended for the Trojans.
In this relief from around 1529, Count Palatine Otto Henry takes the role of Paris, but as a nobly-clad knight.
The scene is depicted as a dream, which gives Otto Henry the opportunity to change the story and make a different choice.
He chooses in favour of Hera, the goddess of women and marriage, who is here not just wearing the traditional bride’s hood, but also has the face of his new wife Susanna. Above all, Hera is the goddess of power.
But Otto Henry had a long wait ahead of him for (some) power. Three years before his death he finally became Elector Palatine. If he had chosen wisdom, he might not have had all the money problems that plagued him all his life. He did in fact actually build a laboratory for producing gold with chemistry. It didn’t work, of course.
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz