Posted in History & Literature

Helen

Helen of Troy is infamous for her pivotal role in the Trojan War after she left Sparta for her new lover, Paris of Troy. She was deemed the “most beautiful woman” in the world by Aphrodite, the goddess of love, who made her fall in love with Paris in return for him choosing Aphrodite as the most beautiful goddess.

Helen is said to have been so beautiful that she had “the face that launched a thousand ships” (in reference to the Trojan War and the massive navy of Greece). Using this statement, clever authors such as Isaac Asimov and W.A.H. Rushton invented the “Helen (H)” unit – an international, standardised measurement of beauty. As Helen launched a thousand ships, a milliHelen (mH) of beauty equates to the amount of beauty required to launch a single ship.
For example, according to The Iliad, the total number of ships that joined the expedition to Troy was 1186. This means that Helen had a beauty rating of 1.186 Helens – ergo, capable of launching more than one thousand ships.

The unit also goes both ways as negative Helen units are possible. For example, -1 mH would mean “beauty” (read: ugliness) that drives a single ship away. The units can be subdivided further, such as a picoHelen (10^-12) being the amount of beauty that “tosses an inflatable tube into the pool”.
Another interpretation of the Helen is the number of women that said woman is more beautiful than. For example, during Helen of Troy’s time (1100 BC), about 50 million women existed on Earth. Therefore, 1 Helen is amount of beauty sufficient to be greater than the beauty of 50 million women.

Finally, beauty is considered to be on a logarithmic scale of base 2. Simply put, for beauty to increase by 1H, the woman must be the most beautiful of double the number of women. In practical terms, the most beautiful woman who ever lived (using the cumulative female population of the world) has a beauty rating of 1.34H. The most beautiful of a dozen women would be 0.14H.

Posted in History & Literature

Judgement Of Paris

This is the story of how one man’s choice lead to a great war.

One day, Zeus held a banquet to celebrate a marriage, but did not invite Eris, the goddess of discord, for obvious reasons. Infuriated, she came up with a cunning plan, in which she arrived at the banquet, tossed a golden apple at the crowd, and disappeared.
On the apple, it was inscribed: For the fairest one.

Three goddesses approached the apple, claiming that it belonged to them: Hera, Athena and Aphrodite. They demanded that Zeus be the judge of who was the fairest, but Zeus knowing it was a catch-22 delegated the task to a mortal: Paris of Troy. This shepherd-prince was approached by each goddess, who offered a bribe using their godly powers.
Hera, the queen of gods, offered to make him the king of Eurasia, symbolising power and wealth.
Athena, the goddess of wisdom and war, offered great strength and wisdom.
Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, offered the most beautiful woman in the world: Helen of Sparta.

After some thought, Paris presented the apple to Aphrodite, giving her the title of the “fairest one”. This earned him not only the beautiful Helen – who became infatuated with him under Aphrodite’s powers and brought to Troy – but also the scorn of the other two goddesses. Using their influences, and the fact that Helen was the wife of Menelaus – king of Sparta – the Trojan War sparked as Sparta formed a Greek alliance force to attack Troy, to reclaim their queen and seek vengeance and blood.

This goes to show how a man’s life, or his nation in the case of Paris, can be destroyed by the basic instinct of lust.