Achilles (Myths and Legends of the World)
A hero in the war between the Greeks and the Trojans, Achilles was the foremost warrior in Greek mythology. He figures prominent'v in the Iliad, the epiclong poem about legendary or historical heroes, written in a grand style by Greek poet Homer that tells the story of the Trojan Warlegendary war between the Greeks and the people of Troy that was set off by the kidnapping of Helen, wife of the king of Sparta; inspiration for Homer's epics the Iliad and the Odyssey. Achilles possessed strength, bravery, military skills, pride, and honorll the qualities the ancient Greeks prized as manly virtues. Yet his conduct was also shaped by anger and stubbornness. The tension between Achilles' larger-than-life virtues and his all-too-human weaknesses plays a role in the mood of heroic tragedy found in the Iliad.
Achilles' Heel. Like many mythological heroes, Achilles was part human and part supernaturalrelated to forces beyond the normal world; magical or miraculous being. His parents were Peleus, a king of Thessaly in northern Greece, and a sea nymphminor goddess of nature, usually represented as young and beautiful named Thetis. According to Homer, Thetis raised both Achilles and his closest friend and companion, Patroclus.
Other accounts added various details to Achilles' life. In one story, Thetis, fearful for her son's safety, tried to protect him by rubbing him with ambrosia, the food of the gods, and holding him in a fire to burn away his human weakness. This action horrified Peleus, and Thetis, angry at his distrust, abandoned her husband and child and returned to the sea.
Another version of Achilles' story said that Thetis tried to make her infant son invulnerableincapable of being hurt by dipping him into the river Styx, which flowed through the underworld.land of the dead However, the water did not touch the heel by which she held Achilles, and this spot remained vulnerable. This myth is the source of the term Achilles' heel, which refers to a person's one great weakness.
Achilles' strength and athletic superiority emerged early. At age six, he could run fast enough to catch deer and was strong enough to kill lions and wild boars. Some myths say that Achilles learned to run from the centaurhalf-human, half-animal creature with the body of a horse and the head, chest, and arms of a human Chiron, who also taught him music, medicine, and the skills of warfare. According to some legends, Achilles was destined from birth to suffer one of two fates: a long life without glory or a glorious death in battle at Troy.
The Trojan War. When the Trojan War began, Achilles' parents sent him to the court of King Lycomedes on the island of Skyros, where he was disguised as a girl. They hoped this would keep him from being drawn into the combat and suffering the fate of the prophecyforetelling of what is to come; also something that is predicted that said he would die at Troy. Meanwhile, a seerone who can predict the future warned the Greeks that they would...
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