The myth of Achilles speaks of the prototype of the epic hero; a deadly but almost perfect and almost invulnerable creature. This character was the most prominent figure in the Trojan War and one of the most important protagonists of the Iliad.
This warrior was considered to be the fastest of all men. The Achilles myth explains that he was also called the most beautiful of all the heroes who participated in the Trojan War.
The myth of Achilles is incredibly important, so much so that it is now part of human anatomy. The Achilles tendon, which sits at the back of the leg, is named in memory of this mythological hero who was worshiped in several regions of the ancient world.
The origin of the myth of Achilles
According to the myth of Achilles, this hero had a very special origin. His mother was the sea goddess, Thetis, daughter of Nereus, the god of the calm and sunlit sea, and endowed with a unique beauty. Hera, Zeus’ wife, educated her. Despite this, both Zeus and Neptune, the god of the sea, would claim her.
The myth tells that the titan, Prometheus, gave Zeus an oracle, which gave a fearless prophecy. It said that Thetis would become pregnant and give birth to a son with great abilities, and who would become so powerful that he would be able to take over the power of his father.
In addition, the beautiful goddess married Peleus, a mortal prince. From here, there are two different versions of the Achilles’ myth. The most famous says that his mother, knowing that her son would become a great hero, wanted to make him immortal.
To do so, she took him to the river, Styx (which led to Hades), and dipped him in it. However, she held the baby firmly in the heel, making this part of his body vulnerable.
But there is another version which tells that Thetis anointed her son in a divine substance called ambrosia, after which she set fire to him to burn the deadly parts of his body. Her husband took her on fresh deed and took the child from her by force, leaving his heel charred. After this, Thetis left them both.
A wonderful hero
As a child, Achilles showed how strong and fast he was. He also proved to be tough and eager for honor and violence. His most important teacher was Phoenix, a wise and courageous centaur. In his childhood, Achilles met Patroclus, with whom he maintained a friendship throughout his life. Later he became one of Chiron’s disciples, with whom he completed his training.
To keep Achilles out of the war, his father sent him to King Lycomedes, disguised as a woman. He was there for a while and had his only child, Pyrrhus / Neoptolemus . Odysseus saw him and asked him to take him to Troy to free Helena.
The myth of Achilles says that his entry into the war showed his great abilities and was the reason why his enemies feared him greatly. This demigod’s stunts became legendary, especially when he defeated Cieno, son of Poseidon, and Trolius, son of Apollo.
The death of a hero
The Trojan War was long and violent. Achilles was the most feared and beautiful of all the warriors. He did not know of fear, but was feared by all.
Many of his opponents fled before facing him because they all considered him invincible. These were the circumstances when his enemies killed his childhood friend, Patroclus, on the battlefield.
The Achilles myth tells that this one from there fought more fiercely and mercilessly. He only wanted to avenge the death of his friend (it was Hector who had killed him). Hephaestus, the god of fire and blacksmithing, made him a special armor because an oracle had told him that he would die after the battle of Hector. However, he ended up beating him.
Some time later, Prince Paris, with the help of Apollo and aware of his only weakness, wounded Achilles’ heel with a poisonous arrow. The hero died, and Thetis, his mother, and the Nereids, his sisters, were in mourning for 17 days. The paradox is that he had said he wanted to live strong and die young.