The deities in Greek mythology were known for embodying every possible personality, and for each one that brought pleasure into the lives of humans, there was another that was responsible for their pain. Eris was the goddess of strife, discord, rivalry and contention. She was also known as the war goddess Enyo or Discordia. Her endless wrath meant that both the gods and man feared and avoided her whenever possible. Some of the Greek legends depict her as the daughter of Zeus and Hera and the sister of the god of war, Ares, while others refer to her as the child to Nyx, the deity otherwise known as Night.
Eris was infamous for her love of conflict and the pleasure she derived from human bloodshed. As the instigator of most of the Greeks’ wars, she would ride a chariot in to battle alongside Ares and they were normally accompanied by her son, Strife. After her grand entrance she would wander around the battlefields, delighting in the pain and destruction that the fighting caused. Even though she was present at the majority of these wars, she would never choose a side as her pleasure was to witness warriors hurting each other and she did not care who actually won.
Described as being very large physically, Eris would walk the earth with her head touching the heavens leaving an endless amount of sorrow in her wake. She had many children, who followed in her footsteps and prided themselves on furthering her torment of humans. These included:
- Ponos – Hardship
- Phonoi – Murders
- Pseudea – Lies
- Ate – Ruin
- Limos – Starvation
- Lethe – Forgetfulness
Most of the problems that the Ancient Greeks faced were as a result of the intervention of either Eris or her children in their lives. Some say that her ability to create a conflict wherever she went was beneficial to many of the Greeks as this rivalry would inspire people to become better than their neighbours and friends, and thus create a superior civilisation.
The most famous story associated with Eris is the beginning of the Trojan War. As a result of her contentious nature all the gods were invited to the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, except for Eris. Much to everybody’s dismay she still made an appearance and had to be refused entry. In a spiteful rage she threw The Golden Apple of Discord into the middle of the celebrations bearing the inscription ‘To the fairest.’ Hera, Athena and Aphrodite all felt that the apple should belong to them. This conflict led to the start of one of the longest, most brutal wars in Greek mythology.