Eris was the god of strife, chaos, and discord. She is the daughter of Nyx, and sometimes Erebus, sometimes Cronus. Eris is the major deity behind Discordianism. Eris and Enyo, a younger goddess of war, are sometimes referred to interchangeably.
Eris is most famous for setting the Trojan War into motion. She was not invited to the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, so she showed up anyway in a very Malificent move, bearing the gift of a golden apple. The gift, she explained, was intended for the most beautiful goddess in attendance. Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite immediately began bickering over the apple, and in the end Paris was chosen to judge the divine beauty contest. Each goddess tried to bribe him, and Aphrodite, who promised him the most beautiful mortal woman on earth, Helen of Troy, won. Unfortunately, Helen was not yet of Troy, she was married to Menalaus, so when Paris kidnapped her he started the Trojan War.
The timing in the myth makes little sense. Peleus and Thetis would later give birth to Achilles, a major player in the Trojan War, so I’m not really sure how old the most beautiful woman in the world was at this point, or even if she or Paris should have technically been alive. But that’s neither here nor there.
Eris also played a major part in the love story of Polytekhnos and Aedon. The two claimed their love for one another rivaled Hera and Zeus’. Infuriated with the comparison, Hera sent Eris to make trouble. Both the humans were happily, and healthily pursuing their own interests and not hurting anyone. Polytekhnos was working on a chariot board and Aedon was weaving. Eris goaded them into a competition by proclaiming that whoever finished last would have to give the other a female servant.
Friendly competition, right?
Nope. Eris is VERY good at sowing discord.
Aedon finished first. Pride wounded, Polytekhnos retaliated by raping his wife’s sister, disguising her, and presenting her to his wife as her slave. Aedon, surprise surprise, recognized her sister and got pissed. So she chopped up Polytekhnos’ son and fed him to her husband. The gods looked down on the entire situation, jaws dropping, and no doubt wondering what the ever-loving heck had happened and turned the whole lot of humans involved into birds so they wouldn’t have to deal with them anymore.
Eris went on to produce the Kakodaimones. The kakodaimones were a set of evil spirits, specifically: Ponos (Toil), Lethe (Forgetfulness), Limos (Starvation), the Algea (Pains/weeping), the Hysminai (Fightings), the Makhai (Battles), the Phonoi (Murders), the Androktasiai (Man-slaughters), the Neikea (Quarrels), the Pseudo-Logoi (Lies), the Amphilogiai (Disputes), Dysnomia (Lawlessness), Ate (Ruin), and Horkos (Oath). (Thank you Theoi.)
Horkos, by the way, was only dangerous to oath breakers.
In Aesop’s fables, Eris and Hercules duke it out, kind of. Herc is just walking along when he sees a random apple on the ground and in true Herc fashion decides to smash it. Every time he smashes it, the apple doubles in size until the moral of the story, this time named Athena, walks in and tells Herc to ignore it. Strife only grows when you fight it.
Eris also drove an entire town of women to the murder of their husbands. She was on the wrong side of the Gigantomachy. She escorted Typhon into battle against Zeus.
Eris is like a dog with a bone. She doesn’t stop fighting or arguing until long after the conflict should have ended. She’s described in a variety of ways, but the description “blood soaked hair” stuck with me more than most. Not a goddess you want to end up on the wrong side of.
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