The Greekly Weekly
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You are Achilling Me: The Story of Achilles
Achilles was the best of the Greek heroes of the Trojan War. When Achilles was a baby, his mother dipped him in the river Styx. This made Achilles invulnerable everywhere but on his heels where his mother had to hang on to him while dipping him in the water. “His Achilles heel” is a saying which is often used today for one area of weakness in a person.
Achilles fought hard in the beginning of the war, but he left the war when Agamemnon stole his concubine. After he left, the Greeks suffered great losses. Patroclus, his squire, borrowed Achilles’ armor and took up the battle. He did very well leading the Greek troops until he came face to face with Hector, the Trojan champion. Though Patroclus fought valiantly, Hector was able to prevail. Hearing of his squire’s death at the hands of Hector, Achilles became very angry and joined the war once again. He pursued Hector and eventually was able to kill him in battle. After killing him, he dragged Hector’s body behind his chariot three times around the city of Troy.
After the victory over Hector, Achilles also battled and defeated Penthesileia, the queen of the Amazons, and Memmon, the King of Ethiopia. Paris, with the help of Apollo, shot an arrow over the wall of Troy and hit Achilles right in his vulnerable heel. This shot brought an end to his famous legacy.
Do Not Forget This Week's Discussion Question and Assignment.
Achilles: The Angry Young Hero
Of all the heroes who fought in the 10-year Trojan War, none approached the greatness of Achilles. A bold and ruthless warrior, Achilles showed his courage and skill on the battlefield countless times. He alone killed multitudes of Trojans, as well as their most fierce allies.
The perfect hero on the battlefield, Achilles was not without flaws. His brashness led him to ignore the advice and counsel of others. His tremendous pride caused him at one point to abandon his Greek comrades and quit the war because he felt insulted. His explosive anger and blood-lust led him to desecrate the body of his most heroic adversary.
As it turned out, Achilles—who seemed unbeatable whether in one-on-one combat or in the middle of a bloody battlefield—was not invulnerable either. Guided by the hand of Apollo, an arrow pierced Achilles' heel—the one spot where he could be killed. His death demonstrated for the ages that even the greatest of heroes was vulnerable.