Achilles

ACHILLES Achilles is considered the greatest warrior of the Trojan War. He was the son of the sea nymph Thetis and the mortal Peleus, king of the Myrmidons of Thessaly. According to the legend when he was a child his mother Thetis held him by the heel and dipped him into the River Styx. This was supposed to make him immortal. Because she held him by the heel, this part of his body was not put into the water. He was made invulnerable except for his heel. This is where we get the phrase “ Achilles’ Heel” which means someone’s weakness and also the human body’s Achilles Heel which is a spot on our ankle that if it is cut makes us unable to walk. Achilles fought in most of the battles during the 10 years of the Trojan War. Legend has it that Achilles was the only mortal to be consumed by rage. When Achilles was younger he saw the Troilus watering his horse at the Lion Fountain just outside of Troy. Achilles was said to have fallen in love with his beauty and pursued him. Troilus rejected Achilles advances and ran into the Temple of Apollo to hide. Achilles found him and cut off his head. Troilus was only 19 years old and this legend says that if Troilus had reached his twentieth birthday, Troy would have been invincible. The author Homer wrote the most famous story of Achilles’ involvement in the Trojan War. It is the epic Iliad. The Iliad only tells the story of a few weeks of the war and doesn’t go on to tell of Achilles death. It starts with the Achilles leaving the battle after King Agamemnon dishonors him. The King took a woman named Chryseis as his slave. Her father was a priest of Apollo’s and begged for her return. When the King refused, Apollo sent a plague to destroy the Greeks. Finally King Agamemnon gave in, but demanded that Achilles’ slave Briseis be given to him instead. Achilles took this as a dishonor to him because he loved Briseis. He then refused to fight with any of the Greeks. He wanted to keep his glory so he prayed to his mother and asked her to plead with the god Zeus to allow the Trojans to be able to push back the Greek warriors. Hector led the Trojans and successfully pushed the Greek army back to the beaches where they attacked the Greek ships. When the Greeks were on the verge of destruction Achilles sent Patroclus into battle. Patroclus was able to push the Trojans back from the beached before he was killed by Hector. When Achilles heard of his friend’s death, it gave him a new purpose. He went into battle killing many men in fits of rage. Every time he fought he went looking for Hector. He was determined to kill him and avenge his friend’s death. Achilles chased Hector around the walls of Troy three times. Finally persuaded by the goddess Athena in disguise Hector agreed to fight Achilles face to face. Achilles killed Hector with a shot to the neck and then tied his body to his chariot and dragged it around for thirteen days. After Patroclus was killed he had a new friend named Antilochus. He was also killed and this made Achilles go into another rage and fight anyone or anything in his way. Before he died Hector told Achilles that his brother Paris would kill him. Achilles didn’t believe him because Paris was thought to be a coward. Unfortunately for Achilles, Hectors prediction came true and the story goes that Paris shot an arrow in the heel of Achilles’ foot, the only weak spot that he had.