Achilles is one of the most popular figures in Greek mythology, especially since he’s one of the heroes (or villains, depending on which side you’re on) of the Trojan War. His legend is spreading even up to now. However, people are torn as to whether he was a hero or a villain. But first of all, did he really exist?
While we will definitely explore his existence, there is no doubt that we can learn about Achilles. Strong, fierce, almost unstoppable. Almost immortal. Almost. Be a person who focuses on your weaknesses. Turn them into your strengths. Do that and I promise you, you will do more than you ever thought capable and you will be ready for any surprises that come your way. Bad at math? Work at it and don’t wait until you are stuck in debt to try to figure things out. Unsure about your health? Read up on it and don’t wait for a medical emergency. Horrible stamina and endurance? Don’t wait until you need to run to someone to save them or run away from something to save your life. Work on your weaknesses.
Achilles & Greek Mythology
Just like all fixtures in Greek mythology, Achilles is also just a myth. However, this didn’t stop people from following his story, as his story features some of the most interesting points in Greek mythology.
For starters, he is known as the greatest warrior in Iliad – a work by the poet Homer. An interesting point is also the fact that he was considered to be invulnerable, except when his heel is hit. In fact, he died just because of a small wound from an arrow that hit his heel. This led to the commonly-used term, Achilles’ heel.
The Origin of Achilles
His name is considered as a combination of “akhos” or grief and “Laos” or tribe or nation. Simply put, his name represented the grief of the people.
He was born to Thetis, a nymph, and Peleus, the Myrmidons’ king. It was Thetis who tried to turn him into an immortal by dipping him in the river Styx. Unfortunately for the boy, Thetis wasn’t able to dip his heel in the river, as it was the part that Thetis was holding while dipping the boy. This led to his sole weakness.
His Legend in the Trojan War
He was known as a hero because of his victories, but he’s also known as a villain because of his sometimes uncontrollable rage that became evident in the Trojan War. His rage was the focus of Homer’s book.
The war basically started because he was angered. The story started with him withdrawing from battle against Agamemnon, with Agamemnon taking a woman named Chryseis as a slave. The god Apollo sent a plague to the Greeks because Agamemnon wouldn’t return the slave to her father. Calchas, a prophet, asked for protection from Achilles so that he’ll speak regarding the source of the plague. He then said that Agamemnon should return Chryseis to her father. Agamemnon did so, but also took Briseis to replace Chryseis. Briseis was the battle prize of Achilles, someone who he loved, and this angered him.
Looking to regain his honor and continue being a hero to his people, he asked for the help of Zeus to turn the tide in their favor. However, another conflict took place, as the then leader of the Trojans, Hector, killed Patroclus, a beloved friend of Achilles. This angered him, and he hunted Hector down, killing a lot of men and angering a lot of gods in the process. Just as he was about to kill Hector, he showed a side very common with a villain – a side that showed his fury and rage.
Another close friend, Antilochus, was killed. Achilles of course killed Memnon, the killer, as revenge. Memnon was an Ethiopian king at that time, and was the son of a goddess.
If there is a lesson to be learned from Achilles it should be to control your anger. Even with heroic intentions, sometimes being angry can enrage you and this is when the hero becomes the villain.