Greek: Αχιλλευς
Who: A Greek hero of the Trojan War.
Lived: 12th Century B.C.
Field: Greek warrior

Triumph of Achilles in Corfu Achilleion by Franz Matsch (1892).

Triumph of Achilles in Corfu Achilleion by Franz Matsch (1892).

Achilles is a Greek hero from the Trojan War. He was the son of thenymph Thetis and Peleus. When Achilles was born Tethis dipped him in the river Styx in order to make him immortal. However, she held him by the one foot and was thus only mortal in his heel (where the term “Achilles heel” comes from). The debate of whether Achilles was a real person or from Greek mythology is still not certain. Although he might have been a real person, and probably one of the bravest Greek warriors during the Trojan war, his character is rife with mythological embellishments. Achilles though would have a lasting impact on the Ancient Greek world. Alexander the Great inspired to be like Achilles and it was said that he even visited the tomb of Achilles on the fields of Troy and took his shield from the temple of Athena which helped him on his campaign to the Middle-East.

He was one of the main characters in Homer’s book the Iliad. In the book Achilles sets sail for Troy to aid the Greeks in the war against the Trojans. Achilles was the bravest of the Greek soldiers and played a pivotal role in the war. He killed Hector (video below), the leader and Prince of the Trojans, and dragged his body around the battlefield for nine days. His anger at Hector for killing his close friend Patroclus was made evident as he was killing him:

“No more entreating, dog, by knees or parents.
I only wish my fury would compel me
To cut away your flesh and eat it raw
For what you’ve done. No one can keep the dogs
Off of your head, not if they brought me ransom
Of ten or twenty times as much, or more.”

Lines 345-350

Achilles died in battle when he got struck in the ankle with an arrow shot by Paris. After his death, Achilles armour was to be awarded to the bravest of the Greek soldiers. Odysseys and Ajax both competed for the armor, with each man making a speech explaining why they were the bravest soldier after Achilles. Odysseus won, and Ajax then went mad and committed suicide. In the Iliad, Achilles had a close relationship with his friend Patroclus. It was this close friendship that brought Achilles back into the Trojan war. After Achilles left the war because of a feud betweenAgamemnon, leader of the Achaeans (Greeks), and himself it was the death of Patroclus that made Achilles return to avenge his friends death.

Troy – Achilles Vs Hector – (fight scene from the movie Troy):

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