According to classical mythology the goddess of Discord inscribed the words 'the most beautiful' on an apple and initiated an argument amongst the goddesses. Not even Jupiter, the father of the gods, was willing to settle it. Instead he sent his messenger Mercury to the Trojan prince Paris. He should choose between the disputing goddesses. They in turn solicited his affection with their promises: Juno offered him power, Minerva promised him wisdom and Venus offered him the most beautiful woman in the world. Paris gave the apple to Venus who helped him to kidnap the married woman Helen, an act that started the Trojan war.
Cranach represented this moralistic subject in the present by showing the figures in 16th century dress to illustrate the consequences of every decision.
[Herrschaft, cda 2015]