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Engraved Mirror with Judgment of Paris

The story of this divine beauty contest is borrowed from Greek mythology and related in Homer’s Iliad. Eris, the goddess of discord, throws an apple labeled “to the fairest” into a gathering of gods. Zeus gives Paris, a Trojan prince, the task of judging who among the goddesses deserves the apple. Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite all bribe Paris, but he choses Aphrodite because of her promise to give him the most beautiful woman in the world. Since the beautiful woman was Helen, wife of the Greek king, Menelaus, this event triggered the Trojan War. Elaborate mirrors of this type, which were made by Etruscans and exported throughout the Mediterranean, were popular as symbols of luxury. Interestingly, Aphrodite, who is seated in the center, holds a mirror.

Etruscan (Italy)
Engraved Mirror with Judgment of Paris
ca. 325–250 BC
Cast bronze
L. (including tang) 10 13/16 in. (27.5 cm); diam. 7 in. (17.8 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 74.23