Thetis and Peleus
Eastern philosophy teaches us that the root of evil is greed, hatred and the delusion that the basis of suffering stems from desire. Illustrated in this piece is one of the base incidents which lead to the entire Trojan cycle and the war that was waged throughout. Styled after a kylix painted by Peithinos, this depiction of Thetis and Peleus portrays one of the first acts of lust and aggression which ignited this series of events. In the early days of mythology, Zeus was told that Thetis was to have a son more powerful than he. Fearing being overthrown (as Zeus had done to his own father, Cronos) he arranges for Thetis to be married to a mortal, Peleus. Initially resistant to the union, Thetis is attacked in her sleep by Peleus and is bound tightly so that she may not change shape and escape (Thetis was one of the fifty nerieds, shape-shifting sea nymphs.) After finally submitting, Peleus assents to the marriage. The subsequent celebration is attended by all the gods save, Eris, the goddess of discord, who was, thoughtfully, not invited. Angered by her exclusion, Eris throws a golden apple into the marriage feast with the attached message, “to the fairest”. An argument ensues between Hera, Aphrodite and Athena on who is deserving of the prize. The matter is eventually set before a mortal judge, an exile-cum-shepherd, named Paris. Each goddess offers a bribe in exchange for Paris’ choice, of which he accepts from Aphrodite, who promises the love the most beautiful woman in the world. This woman, Helen of Sparta, happens to already be married, nonetheless helen runs off with Paris to Troy, leading to its attack and the beginning of the Trojan war. Stemming from fear and lust for power, and entire cycle of violence and war is ultimately enacted.