Readers of the London Gazette were undoubtedly intrigued by the eye-catching advertisement on 21 March 1700 promoting a composition competition, quite a novel proposal at the time. ‘Several Persons of Quality,’ it says, had contributed a total of 200 guineas which was to be divided into four prizes and awarded to the winning contestants. The sponsors commissioned William Congreve to craft a libretto based on the ancient myth in which Paris, son of King Priam of Troy, must judge a beauty contest between Pallas Athena, Juno, and Venus, a topic that must have seemed duly appropriate for the occasion. The ad also states that the event’s purpose was simply to encourage music, but Roger North’s comments reveal that the underlying intent may well have been to settle a contention between the sponsors regarding who was London’s greatest composer.1