Who was Achilles?

Who was Achilles?You may have heard people saying that somebody has an ‘Achilles heel’, which means that they have a weak spot somewhere, either in their personality or their body. Where does that expression come from, and who was Achilles?

Achilles was the won of a woman called Thetis, who was told by the Fates, ancient Greek goddesses who controlled people’s destiny, that her baby would die young. Thetis took the child and went to the river Styx, where she dipped the young Achilles into the water, which was supposed to make him impossible to wound. When she did this Thetis held her son by his heel, so that this part of his body was not protected as was the rest. Later, Achilles became one of the most famous of the Greek heroes, and was a warrior in the Trojan wars. During these wars, Achilles captured a girl named Briseis, who was taken away from him by the Greek leader Agamemnon. Achilles refused to fight any more for Agamemnon, but he lent his armour to his friend Patroclus, who led the Greek army in his place. The Trojan champion Hector killed Patroclus, and Achilles decided to seek revenge. He killed Hector and dragged his body round the tomb of Patroclus. Achilles was killed when Hector’s brother Paris shot a poisoned arrow at him. It struck his heel, the part not protected by the water of the Styx, and Achilles died. The story of Trojan wars was told by a Roman poet called Virgil, in a long poem called the Aeneid, and it makes very good reading if you can find a translation of it.

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