Achilles in Trojan War

Homer's Iliad and Greek mythology, describe Achilles as one of the generals and warriors of the Aegean forces that besieged Troy for 10 years. Here, we shall try to understand more about this Greek hero who was considered to be the greatest warrior of the Trojan War.
SpiritualRay Staff
Achilles is the central character of Homer's Iliad. He was the son of Thetis ( sea goddess) and Peleus (King of Phthia). In fact, the story of the Trojan War began in the wedding of Peleus and Thetis.
Achilles attained immortality when his mother, dipped him in the river Styx (the river that indicated the boundary between the earth and the underworld). While doing so, Thetis held him by the heel. Hence, his heel was the only part of his body that remained vulnerable. This story has given rise to the modern term of Achilles heel.
According to Greek mythology, Thetis anointed Achilles in ambrosia and then she would burn off the mortal parts in a fire. One day, when Thetis was burning the mortal parts off Achilles, Peleus disturbed her due to which she dropped Achilles, leaving his heel vulnerable. An enraged Thetis left her son and husband. Many legends and different contradicting stories have come up, regarding the immortality of Achilles. Some of the stories state that he was vulnerable only at his heel. Some of them say that he was semi-immortal.
After his wife left him, Peleus left Achilles in the care of the renowned teacher and philosopher, Chiron, the Centaur. During his childhood, Achilles received the best education in warfare and combat. Chiron taught him many arts and skills about military leadership.
After Paris, the Prince of Troy and the beautiful Helen of Sparta, ran away from Sparta, the Aegean forces assembled as allies against Troy to bring back Helen. Odysseus, at the time of the marriage of Helen to Menelaus, had proposed the alliance, so as to defend the marriage of Helen and also prevent any kind of enmity between the rejected suitors. Odysseus initiated the alliance to help Helen's father, King Tyndareus.
After the elopement of Helen, her husband, Menelaus called on the rejected suitors of Helen who had taken the oath to protect the marriage of Helen. The Aegean force thus started assembling to bring back Helen to her rightful husband.
Odysseus ,who was also one of the greatest commanders of the Aegean forces, foresaw the need of Achilles, as the Greeks were foretold that they would need his support in bringing down Troy.
Thetis was also a very gifted seer and knew about this prophecy. She also knew that if Achilles went to war, he would die at a very young age and would become the legendary hero of the Trojan War. Hence, Thetis in order to protect and prevent her son from stepping into the war, disguised him as a girl and hid him in the court of Lycomedes, Scyros. Achilles fell in love with the king's daughter, Deidamia, and they had a son, Neoptolemus.
However, the cunning Odysseus enabled the Aegean generals to identify the true Achilles. On being discovered, he willingly joined the force of the Aegean army. He commanded his army of Myrmidons, which consisted of about 50 ships.
Before going off for the battle, Achilles was given armor and a pair of immortal horses that belonged to his father, Peleus. He was also armed with his teacher's spear that was crafted by Chiron from a tree on Mount Pelion. Before leaving for Troy, his mother gave him significant advice on the basis of her predictions. She had specifically warned him not to kill Tenes, the Trojan son of Apollo. However, Achilles forgot this warning and killed Tenes, thereby earning the wrath of Apollo.
Before landing on the beaches of Troy, the Greeks also attacked Teuthrania, mistaking it for Troy. King Telephus was wounded in the combat by Achilles.
The Aegean forces landed on the beaches of Troy and ransacked the Trojan temple that was situated outside the city walls. Achilles was given the priestess Briseis, who belonged to the Royal Trojan family. Achilles always treated her with respect, affection and never harmed her in any way. Many accounts claim that Achilles actually treated her as his own wife and had fallen in love with her.
Agamemnon had taken Chryseis, the daughter of a priest, as hostage. He had treated her brutally and abused her. An enraged Achilles had forced Agamemnon to return her to her father. In return, Agamemnon kidnapped Briseis and ill-treated her till Achilles rescued her. After this incident, Achilles refused to participate in the battle. In the absence of their bravest and the most skilled general, the Aegean army suffered enormous setbacks and casualties.
Achilles finally re-entered the battlefield after Hector, the first Prince of Troy, killed his cousin, Patroclus. He avenged the death of Patroclus by killing Hector outside the city walls. When King Priam secretly came to the Aegean camp to retrieve his son's, Hector's body, Achilles promised him that there will be no war till Hector's funeral was held. He also sent back Briseis with the king, to her home.
Some accounts claim that Nestor (Agamemnon's general), requested Achilles to avenge the death of his son, Antilochus, by slaying Memnon (a Trojan general and a Assyrian-Ethiopian Prince and the slayer of Antilochus). Achilles killed Memnon outside the city walls. The terrified Trojans started running back to their city and were chased by Achilles. Paris shot an arrow at Achilles, that was guided by Apollo, and hit his heel. The injury proved fatal and Achilles succumbed to it.
Some accounts claim that Achilles died in the temple of Apollo, when Troy was finally ransacked by the Aegean forces. It is said that he died in the arms of Briseis, whom he was searching for.
Achilles is one of the bravest legendary heroes of all time. He is renowned for his extreme skills, valor and bravery. He possessed very rare qualities like respect for women and captured prisoners. He also honored the dead and paid them his full respect. His death was mourned by the Aegean army as well as the Trojans. Even the gods are said to have mourned his death.
Upon the death of Achilles, Odysseus, describes him, and pays his final respect with the following words.
"If they ever tell my story
let them say that I walked with giants.
Men rise and fall like the winter wheat, but these names will never die.
Let them say I lived in the time of Hector, tamer of horses.
Let them say I lived in the time of Achilles."
(as said by Odysseus, in the movie Troy, directed and produced by Wolfgang Petersen and distributed by Warner Bros.)