The Divine Beauty Contest
(This is but an excerpt from www.classicspage.com, created and owned by Andrew Wilson.)
The "divine beauty contest", as we refer to it here, is in truth the mythological background and reason in Homer's epic and ancient Greek mythology for the start of the Trojan War. The story goes like this:
Long ago the father immortal Zeus fell in love with one of the daughters of the Old Man of the Sea, Proteus. The daughter's name was Thetis, and it was foretold to him that this woman would bear a son greater than he. Zeus remembered his own history and how he was once the son of his father, Cronus, and was able to overthrow him and destroy him. Zeus did not want to risk this same event occuring on him, therefore he bestowed the lovely Thetis upon a mortal king named Peleus. Everyone was invited to this great marriage, everyone except the goddess Eris, the goddess of strife. Peleus and Eris did not want to invite Eris because they did not want the patron goddess of strife present at their festive engagment. Deeply offended, Eris still managed to bring her namesake into play for the wedding feasters. She cast a golden apple down among them, inscribed with the phrase, "for the fairest". Immediately the three supreme Olympian goddess, Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite began to bicker about whom the apple belonged to.
The three goddesses eventually appealed to father Zeus to decide whom was the most beautiful, however Zeus knew that if he were forced to choose that the other two goddesses whom he did not pick would try to make his life eternally miserable. So Zeus, with great cunning, took the three goddesses to Mount Ida, near Troy. Tending his flocks in the fields was King Priam's son Paris, one of the most beautiful mortals ever to walk the earth. Zeus chose Paris to make the decision about whom was the most fairest. The three goddesses campaigned and lobbyed the young Prince, and eventually he chose Aphrodite after she promised him as her bribe the most beautiful woman on earth.
--As can be seen, mythology shows the gods as basically humans with special powers. Stories like these usually proved a point, or explained something. This one goes on to tell of the cause of the Trojan War.