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Ancient Greek and Roman Myths Notes


Achilles, the Greek hero, son of Peleus, king of Phthia, and the goddess Thetis, daughter of Oceanus. His legend is among the richest and oldest in Greek mythology. Achilles was brought up under the guidance of Centaur Chiron, who was his teacher. Thetis, to make her son indestructible, bathed him in the Styx, the river of Underworld (Hell), and only the heel, by which Thetis held the boy, was untouched by the miracle waters and remained vulnerable. Thetis (or Peleus) learned the prophecy that Achilles would die in battle for Troy. To prevent his going to war, Thetis hid her son on Scyros, in the court of the king Lycomedes. She kept him among Lycomedes’ daughters; disguised as a girl. He lived with them for 9 years.
The disguise, however, did not cheat the Fate. She prompted to Odysseus Achilles’ whereabouts. As the prophecy said that without Achilles the Greeks would never conquer Troy, Odysseus immediately hurried to Scyros. The Greeks brought rich gifts to the daughters of Lycomedes, but among the women’s garments and accessories they also put a spear and a sword. The girls were delighted. Then, by Odysseus’s sign, the horn played an alarm signal, the girls flew away, but Achilles seized the weapons. Thus his identity was revealed.
See: Nicolas Poussin Achilles and Daughters of Lycomede, Achilles with the Daughters of Lacomede.
Achilles participated in Trojan war on the part of Greeks. In a battle, Hector, Priam’s son, slew Patroclus, beloved friend of Achilles. Full of rage and vengeance Achilles met Hector in fight and won. On the point of death Hector asked Achilles to return his corpse to Priam, but Achilles refused and dragged the corpse behind his chariot around the Troy. The old Priam came to Achilles’ camp and begged him to return the son’s body. Touched with the old man’s grief Achilles ordered the body to be washed, dressed and returned.
See: Jacques-Louis David. The Funeral of Patroclus.
Nikolay Gay Achilles Lamenting the Death of Patroclus.
Alexander Ivanov Priam Asking Achilles to Return Hector’s Body.

Ancient Greek and Roman Myths Index

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