This naturally does not go over well, either, and Achilles refuses to further participate in the war. According to Homer, Achilles was brought up by his mother at Phthia with his cousin and inseparable companion Patroclus. For starters, after she has run off with Paris, Troy’s version of Helen claims that she never wanted to move to Sparta in the first place and that she was forced to marry Menelaus. He does so by firing an arrow that finds its target in Achilles’ singular vulnerable spot: his heel. Omissions? As a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, this site may earn from qualifying purchases. Below, we’ll get into just how Hollywood got it wrong and take a closer look at the real story behind the legendary warrior. The later mythographers related that Peleus, having received an oracle that his son would die fighting at Troy, sent Achilles to the court of Lycomedes on Scyros, where he was dressed as a girl and kept among the king’s daughters (one of whom, Deïdamia, bore him Neoptolemus). Achilles was the bravest, handsomest, and greatest warrior of the army of Agamemnon in the Trojan War. Achilles was the bravest, handsomest, and greatest warrior of the army of Agamemnon in the Trojan War. Achilles is perhaps most famous for being imperfectly invulnerable, a detail of his exciting and mythical life known as the Achilles Heel that is described elsewhere. The term Achilles heel references a vulnerability or weakness. Nothing ever good comes of killing a god’s child. When Peleus discovered this, he didn’t understand and refused to listen to Thetis, and so she returned to the sea. Achilles, in Greek mythology, son of the mortal Peleus, king of the Myrmidons, and the Nereid, or sea nymph, Thetis. During the first nine years of the war, Achilles ravaged the country around Troy and took 12 cities. Though the death of Achilles is not described in the Iliad, his funeral is mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey. Let’s back up for a moment and re-discuss Patroclus, the friend who impersonated Achilles and died from it. Hearing from the soothsayer Calchas that Troy could not be taken without Achilles, the Greeks searched for and found him. It is only the final year of the Trojan War that is told in Homer’s famous Iliad. If I had to bet, I’d say that there probably was an individual Mycenaean warlord named Achilles who made a name for himself and achieved a certain immortality through the oral tradition. While many choose to read the close relationship between Achilles and Patroclus as strictly platonic, you have to ignore a great deal of language and content that suggest the more likely alternative: that the two were lovers. Achilles was one of the greatest warriorsand heroes for the Greeks in the Trojan War. It is rooted in the myth of Achilles’ mother dipping him in the River Styx, making his entire body invulnerable except for the part of his foot where she held him—the proverbial Achilles heel. Another non-Homeric episode relates that Thetis dipped Achilles as a child in the waters of the River Styx, by which means he became invulnerable, except for the part of his heel by which she held him—the proverbial “Achilles’ heel.”. When it became clear that the Trojan War would break out, Thetis acted once again to keep Achilles out of harm’s way. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. How Did Uranus get its Name as Per Greek Mythology? Agamemnon was none to happy about this, and so he demanded Achilles’ own concubine, Briseis. The poet Arctinus in his Aethiopis took up the story of the Iliad and related that Achilles, having slain the Ethiopian king Memnon and the Amazon Penthesilea, was himself slain in battle by Priam’s son Paris, whose arrow was guided by Apollo. 2020 All Rights Reserved. There is another version of how Achilles invulnerability came about, however. The first nine years of the war were relatively successful for Achilles. We may also earn commissions on purchases from other retail websites. There’s just something so intriguing about it all—the gods, the legends, the art. Of course, nothing can stand in the way of fate—when yet another prophesy was delivered that the Greeks wouldn’t be able to defeat the Trojans without the aid of Achilles, Odysseus, the famous trickster himself, went to find him. The Iliad concludes with the funeral rites of Hector. 3 Most Important Characters in Greek Mythology, 5 Awesome Greek Mythology Fiction Books for Kids, Aphrodite Facts: Awesome Facts about the Goddess of Love and Beauty. Did a Lion-Headed Monster Exist in Greek Mythology. © Sure, no one can complain about too much Brad Pitt, but the way his character is written is just poor. Because the heel was not dipped, however, he was left with one vulnerable spot on his body—thus giving arise to the term “Achilles’ heel.”. He was the son of Peleus, king of the Myrmidons, and Thetis, a sea nymph. Achilles himself had been killed by Paris after being shot by an arrow through the heel, the only vulnerable part of his body, hence the expression ‘Achilles heel’. Under him, his troops overtook a dozen Trojan cities and Achilles developed a fierce reputation on the battlefield. In this version, Thetis would nightly anoint him with Ambrosia and place him in the fire as part of a purifying ritual. Thetis immersing her son, Achilles, in the River Styx by Antoine Borel, 18th century; in the collection of the Galleria Nazionale, Parma, Italy. In the 10th year a quarrel with Agamemnon occurred when Achilles insisted that Agamemnon restore Chryseis, his prize of war, to her father, a priest of Apollo, so as to appease the wrath of Apollo, who had decimated the camp with a pestilence. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). Despite the pleas of his friends, in the light of the prophecy of his death that his mother has now revealed to him, Achilles opts to live a quiet life in obscurity. Perhaps the most iconic portrayal of Achilles by Hollywood to date is the move Troy, which tries to take a historical approach to the events of the Trojan War by removing all the gods, nymphs, and magic. Greek and Roman mythology and culture have long been at the forefront of pop culture and study in western society. Things divulge into a sorry state for the Greeks, leading Achilles’ closest friend Patroclus to dress in Achilles’ armor and impersonate him in battle. According to Homer, Achilles was brought up by his mother at Phthia with his inseparable companion Patroclus. Achilles was the son of Peleus, the king of Phthia, and Thetis, a minor sea goddess. But let’s give that a pass for a moment and determine if the film accomplished what it set out to do: portray an accurate historical account. It was under his instruction that Achilles became the legendary fighter he was known as. This chapter of Achilles’ life begins with Achilles convincing Agamemnon to return Chryseis, whom he had recently claimed as a spoil of war, to her father, a priest of Apollo. image via: flick What Is the Demeter and Persephone Story Summarized? The Trojan War was a 10-year-long war between the Trojans and the Greeks. Achilles was the son of Peleus, the king of Phthia, and Thetis, a minor sea goddess. Paris was known for being somewhat of a coward and certainly didn’t have a reputation as an archer. In a way, Troy not only removes the gods from its telling of the story of Achilles, it also removes its humanity. The Trojan War began when Helen, the queen of Sparta, was abducted by the Trojan prince named Paris. Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... Amphora with Ajax and Achilles playing a board game, painted by Exekias, c. 550–540. Pitt’s Achilles is constantly reluctant to take action and constantly in bed with women—which may not be entirely inaccurate, but the Achilles of legend was at least more proactive and complex. In his youth Achilles also became friends with Peleus and, more importantly, Patroclus. It is therefore believed that Apollo, the god of archery himself, guided the arrow—finally taking his revenge on Achilles. It was also during this time, however, that Achilles started the chain of events that would eventually lead to his demise. When Achilles returns, he swiftly kills Hector and the tide of the war turns in favor of the Greeks. Hector (the eldest son of King Priam of Troy) slew Patroclus, and Achilles, having finally reconciled with Agamemnon, obtained new armour from the god Hephaestus and slew Hector. He was the son of the Nereid Thetis and Peleus, king of Phthia. Corrections? Birth And Early Childhood. And, of course, Achilles joined. Achilles was one of the greatest warriors. The True Story Of Achilles.