Kaz Dağı, situated at the southern tip of Çanakkale, is a mountain nearly as famous in mythology as Mount Olympus. According to myth, the first beauty contest was held here under the judgment of Paris. The gods also watched the Trojan War from the top of Mount Ida. In ancient times the mountain was dedicated to the worship of Cybele, who was therefore sometimes called “Idea Mater.”
The goddess Eris was the personification of strife. One of the legends in which she appears begins with a wedding—the wedding of Pleus and Thetis, to be precise. Apparently someone forgot to invite the goddess of discord to the festivities, which was the first mistake in a long chain of disastrous events. Eris simply showed up at the wedding with mayhem on her mind.
When she arrived, the goddess tossed a golden apple into the crowd of famous faces with the phrase “to the fairest.” The immediate question was: who deserved this irresistible piece of fruit? Should Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, get the apple? Or should Hera, Queen of the Olympians, win it—or Athena, grey-eyed goddess of wisdom? They were all beautiful goddesses, so it was not an easy desicion. In order to avoid an ugly scene, a mortal—Paris—was chosen to decide who should have the golden apple. Tempted by Aphrodite’s offer of the most comely mortal woman, Paris awarded the prize to the goddess of love. Unfortunately Helen (the loveliest woman) was already married. So from this minor event—an apple thrown at a wedding—the seed for the notorious Trojan War was planted.
The tradition of this beauty contest is relived annually at the Kaz Mountain Festival..