Aphrodite was the goddess of beauty, love, and desire. She is said to have sprung from the foam of the sea, where she obtained the name of Aphrodite (aphros - foam). As soon as she was born she is said to have been laid in a beautiful shell, then floated to Kythira, then Cyprus, where she arrived in the month of April. As soon as she set foot on the island, flowers sprung beneath her feet. The Horai (the goddesses of the seasons) awaited her arrival, braided her hair with gold and then sent her to Olympus to take her rightful place amongst the gods.
Soon after Zeus threw a banquet celebrating the marriage of Peleus and Thetis (the future parents of Achilles). The goddess of discord, Eris, was not invited as she tended to cause trouble. Upon turning up uninvited, true to her reputation, she threw a golden apple into the middle of the ceremony with an inscription that read: "ΤΗΙ ΚΑΛΛΙΣΤΗΙ" - “For the most beautiful”. Three goddesses laid claim to the apple: Hera, Athena and Aphrodite. They brought the matter to Zeus but he did not want to involve himself and assigned the task to Paris of Troy. Zeus gave the apple to Hermes and told him to deliver it to Paris and tell him that whatever he decided was final. Each goddess wanted the apple, so they each appeared naked before Paris and offered him a bribe in return for the apple; Hera offered to make him the king of Europe and Asia Minor, Athena offered him wisdom and skill in battle and Aphrodite offered to give him the love of the world's most beautiful woman, Helen of Sparta (who was already married to King Menelaus). Paris chose Aphrodite, a decision that caused the Trojan war and ultimately the destruction of both Paris and his city, Troy.