Achilles was a legendary Greek hero. Before he was born the Fates had told his mother Thetis (who was a sea nymph) that he would die young. so when he was a baby she tried to make him immortal by plunging him into the River Styx, whose magic properties were supposed to give protection from all harm. But the heel by which she held him did not get wet – and this reminded mortal.
Years later when the Trojan war broke out, Thetis dressed Achilles up as a girl and hid among the women at the court of the king of Scyros so that he would not have to go to fight. But he was discovered by the Greek warrior Odysseus, also known as Ulysses. Achilles fought on the Greek side in the Trojan war, about which Homer wrote in the Iliad. He soon became famous for his heroic adventures, such as his slaying of the Trojan hero, Hector. But his own end was near. Hector’s brother, Paris, shot a poisoned arrow at him. The god Apollo guided it to pierce Achilles in the foot, and he died from the wound. So the phrase ‘an Achilles heel’ has come to mean a weak or vulnerable spot.
The Achilles tendon attaches the muscles of the calf of the leg to the heel-bone. It is frequently strained by athletes.