One of the bloodiest wars in Greek history took place on the Turkish peninsula with thousands of men, heroes and kings gathered under the banners of Greece and Troy. It began with the simple wager over who was the most beautiful between the goddesses Aphrodite, Hera and Athena. The goddesses chose a shepherd, Paris, working in the fields to make the decision. They each approached him, offering him wealth, riches and love for his vote. Paris chose Aphrodite, the goddess of love, who gifted him the most beautiful woman in the world for his trouble.
The most beautiful woman of the ancient world was reportedly Helen, daughter of Leto and wife of Menelaus. Helen's beauty was said to be a gift of her heavenly father, Zeus. So great was her beauty that all the kings of Greece wished to make her their bride. To avoid a great upheaval of war, the King's negotiated a truce, swearing that each would support the man Helen chose for her husband. So it was that Helen was married to King Menelaus of Sparta. But Aphrodite, the goddess of love, worked her will on the young Queen and when she set eyes upon Paris, she fell in love. The couple ran away to the Kingdom of Paris' father, Troy.
The Gathering of Heroes
Enraged, King Menelaus summoned the Kings of Greece, among them Agamemnon and Odysseus to his aid. The legend says the Greeks set forth in a thousand ships, intent on reclaiming Menelaus' wife. The walls of Troy were thick and sturdy having been constructed by the gods Apollo and Poseidon.
The Greeks made camp and laid siege to the walls and would be embedded for more than a decade before clever Odysseus conceived of the idea to construct a giant horse (to honor Poseidon) and leave it at the gates as a gift to the Trojans, then the Greeks seemingly abandoned their warfare for home.
The Trojan Horse
Unbeknownst to the Trojans, the Greeks were hiding inside the horse. Relieved after the decade long campaign, they rolled the horse inside and celebrated with libations, singing and dancing far into the night. The only one to see the danger was the prophetess Cassandra, but her warnings were ignored having been cursed by Apollo. The Greeks snuck out in the dark of the night, easily slaying the drunken watch and taking the city.
Within hours, the great city of Troy fell. Paris was slain and Helen was returned to her husband. Only Aeneas was said to have escaped the destruction of the great city. He and his descendants are linked to the founding of another great city: Rome.