Who was Achilles?


If a person has some way in which he can be hurt, or some spot in which he can be wounded, he is said to have an Achilles heel. This expression goes back to one of the greatest heroes of Greek legends, Achilles.

When Achilles was born, the Fates, the goddesses that controlled man’s destiny, foretold that the infant would die young. Achilles’ mother, Thetis, wanted to avoid this fate for her son, so she dipped him in the water of the River Styx.

This was supposed to make him invulnerable and protect him from deadly wounds. Every part of Achilles was thus made safe against injury, except one part the heel by which his mother held him! And later on he was to die from a wound in the heel.

Achilles grew to be a handsome young man, swiftest of mortals in the race, and the joy of all who beheld him. Eventually Achilles was famous as the greatest of the Greek warriors during the Trojan War.

In the tenth year of the struggle, he captured a girl named Briseis. But the leader of the Greeks, Agamemnon, took the girl away from him. Achilles was furious and decided not to fight any more. The Greeks were helpless without their great hero.

So they persuaded Achilles to lend his armor and his men to friend patroclus. But Patroclus was slain by the Trojan hero Hector, and the armor and a shield. He took to the field field and killed Hector.

And in revenge he dragged Hector’s body around the tomb of his slain friend. Later, Hector’s brother, Paris, shot a poisoned arrow at Achilles. It entered his heel, the one part of his body that had not been dipped in the Styx, and Achilles died from the wound.

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