Born to King Priam of Troy and his wife Hekabe. It was prophesied by Cassandra that the boy would grow to be the death of his city. In order to try to avoid this, Priam had the child taken to Mount Ida, where he hoped he would die of exposure.

But baby Paris was found by shepherds, who took up the task of raising him. While he was under their care, three goddesses, Aphrodite, Athene and Hera approached young Paris, commanding him to decide who was most beautiful of the three.

This was in reaction to the gauntlet thrown down by Eris, when she cast a golden apple among the three goddesses. She advised them that the most beautiful could claim the prize. Each thinking herself worthy of the prize, the three were referred by Zeus to Paris. Each promised him something wonderful:
Athene vowed that he should have immortal fame as a hero.
Hera promised him the throne of Asia.
Aphrodite said that she would obtain for him the most beautiful woman in the world as his wife.

After much thought, Paris decided in favour of Aphrodite, and in so doing drew the bitter enmity of the two losers upon himself and his country.

At that time, it happened that oxen were required for a sacrifice being offered in Troy, and so two sons of King Priam, Hector and Helenos, came to Mount Ida, and took one of the herd watched over by Paris. Unwilling let them take the oxen, Paris followed the princes back to Troy, intending to demand restoration of his cattle. A quarrel ensued on the way, and the princes nearly killed Paris. But then Cassandra appeared and revealed the story of Paris' birth, and with great rejoicing the three returned to Troy, where Paris took his place as a son of King Priam, and a prince of the city. Aphrodite commanded Paris to set sail for Sparta, where Paris met the woman whom the goddess had promised would be his wife, the most beautiful woman on earth. This was Helen, wife of Menalaus. The two developed a friendship that later turned into love, and when the opportunity to elope presented itself, Paris and Helen fled Sparta and returned to Troy, where they were married.

Menalaus was not going to take this lying down, and so commanded those who had sworn an oath to aid him now to take up arms against Troy and sail to the city to rescue Helen. Thus began the nine-year Trojan War, in which many died.

During this war Paris distinguished himself by killing the Greek hero Achilles, but was in the end himself slain by Odysseus, with the arrows of Hercules.