Priam Randsoming Hector's Body
Priam Randsoming Hector's Body by Bertel Thorwaldsen


Hmmm...OK, for those who care, Achilles is my newest obsession. I really don't know why. Well, actually I do, it's just a very long story that you would probably be just as happy not hearing.

Because of this obsession, I thought "hey, why don't I continue my weird collection and add all of my favorite things about Achilles to this page". So, here I am. I'm currently working on collecting a ton of pictures (that I like!) on Achilles, favorite texts that he appears in, poems, maybe?, and whatever else I can get my little claws on to put it here.

I should probably give a brief (ever so brief!) introduction to Achilles just for the few of you who managed to somehow or other stumble upon this page not having a clue as to who Achilles might be. (I don't know how you'd do it based on what I have in the META tag, but if you did, well...this will be a learning experiance, and you should know who he is anyway...)

Other Names: I don't even know all of these. There are a number of derivations of Achilles, including Akhilleus (the real one, Achilles is Romanized), the somewhat easier to pronounce name, Achilleus, names of paternity, like Son of Thetis, Son of Peleus, Peleid, Peleides, Pleiades, etc. He's also called Pyrrha (flame/fire) when he's pretending to be a girl, and a couple of other ideas. All of the names except for the "I'm the son of so and so" and Pyrrha mean sorrowful, tearful, miserable, sorrowing, you get the idea.

Words used to Describe him: Bright, brilliant, firey, things along that note. Penthesilea (from Kleist) calls him "my young war-god". Godly, like a God, etc. also are used often with his name. For the most part, though, he gets the typical Hellenic hero terms: brilliant, beautiful, handsome, tall, strong, powerful, mighty, etc.

Parents: Peleus (king of the Myrmidions and Phthia) and Thetis (a sea nymph) Their marriage deserves note. They were married because someone (Prometheus?) told Zeus that the son of Thetis would be greater than his father. Even though Thetis was (is) a very attractive sea nymph, Zeus dropped her right there and married her to his favorite mortal, Peleus. Their wedding was also a tad bit intersting. All of the Gods were invited (and attended) their wedding except for Discord. Furious at not being invited, she crashed the party and threw a golden apple on the ground, saying "to the fairest!" Of course, though you and I might just give the apple to the bride, the Greek Gods didn't work that way, and Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite fought over it. They finally got a shephard named Paris to choose which was the fairest. They each bribed him, and, refusing Power and Glory (Hera and Athena's bribes, respectively) he chose Aphrodite, and Love. The Goddesses hatred of him, along with Aphrodite's rather silly promise to give him a married woman, lead to the Trojan war.

Meanwhile, Thetis is killing her children while trying to cause them to become immortal. She is doing something or other to her seventh son (Achilles, usually she's putting him in the fire or dipping him in the Styx) when Peleus bursts in and she vanishes back to the sea. What a quick marriage!

Children: Pyrrhus/Neoptalamus. Neoptalamus, though he must have been 11 at the time, does an impressive job sacking Troy, killing Priam and Astanyx (Hector's son), and taking Andromache (Hector's wife) as his mistress. He's known throughout history as being a violent fiend. He's finally killed by the Delphic Oracle when he goes to demand of Apollo why he killed Achilles, his father. His wife, Hermione, at the moment was running away with her cousin, Orestes. These people are crazy!

Spouses/Mates: Achilles never manages to marry. He does have a son, Pyrrhus, with Deimondia, the daughter of the king of Scryos. The only other certain love interest is Breseis, his captive who he fights with Agamemnon over. Possible love interests include: Iphegenia, Agamemnon's daughter who was promised that she got to marry Achilles. (though they may or may not have been engaged), Polyxena, who the Trojans promise to marry to get him to the temple so that they can kill him...Helen, who is with him after death in the Isle of the Blest (yes, the same Helen of Troy who he calls all those nasty names in the Iliad), Penthesilea, the Amazon Queen who, in some stories, he falls madly in love with after killing her!, Medea (she gains immortality from Hera for telling Zeus that she's not someone who'll be his lover. And what does she do with it? Spend it with Achilles. I'm still curious about this one. What is this? A "my first hero didn't work, let's see if the second will" thing? My mythology book says, under Elysium, that strangely, the only direct account of it ever gotten (from Odysseus when he goes to the Underworld and talks to Achilles) is a rather negative one. But this may be for rather personal reasons, as Medea decides to marry Achilles after his death. I can also see terrible things happening when Medea decides that Iphegenia, Polyxena, Penthesilea, Helen, and Patroclus are threats to hear and disposes of all of them...though I'm certain that Penthesilea and Patroclus could fight back) and possibly even best friend, fellow in arms, and the one who Achilles considers his second self, Patroclus. Patroclus (Patroklos) is rather intersting in that, though in the Iliad there is no mention of him and Achilles being lovers, the Ancient Greeks in the Golden Age of Athens had them as famous lovers. Because of this, historians are rather confused as to whether they really were lovers or if the Athenians (and others) liked the idea of them being lovers because homosexual love was so vaunted in Greece at that time. The world will never know. Either way, they are the best of friends.

Pets: Yes, Achilles does have pets! Well, kinda...he has his two war horses, Xanthos and Bailos. Xanthos actually talks to him, to warn him not to fight Hector and to tell him to stop yelling at them over the death of Patroclus. Weird, huh? Well, Achilles, I guess it's OK if you talk to your horses as long as they don't talk back to you...ooops...too late.

Personality: This is a bit difficult as Achilles is considerd, for good reason, to be one of the most complex characters in literature. However, the realization that one of the most famous books in the world is called "The Wrath of Peleus' Son" should give you a hint. (Alternate name for "The Iliad") He's fiery, he's bright. He's a fatal hero. He is nearly perfect. But his excessive pride dooms him. He is gorgeous, a wonderful fighter, talented, intelligent, etc...and he knows it. He's got a terrible temper, but he can look at most situations logically, even when furious. He obeys the Gods as he understands that they are far more willing to help him when he is. He is super individualistic, and has no real desier to lead or to be lead. He wishes to do things on his own. It is his battle, his war, his fight, his girl, his friend, his armor. There's probably a ton more...I just can't figure all of it out. ; )

Appearance: Gorgeous. He's the most handsome of all of the Greeks. He's tall, muscular, perfectly proportioned. HE doesn't even get a chance to get old and less beautiful as he dies at 25. His hair is either blonde or red (yellow is usually want it's called, but occasionally there's a flame red or aburn..) His eyes are blue, blue-grey, or blue-green. Imagine Apollo Sun God. For all of their mutual dislike, they probably look very much alike.

Talents: Aside from the fairly obvious talents of being an expert warrior and a swift runner, Achilles is also a gifted player of the lyre, has a wonderful singing voice, and is good with botany and medicine. (In fact, yarrow is named after him as a tribute to his botanical skills) Besides this, Achilles is good with horses and possesses strong leadership and negociating talents. (when he's not too furious to use them)

Childhood: After Thetis left Peleus, Peleus sent his son off to be trained by the wise centaur Cheiron. With Cheiron Achilles not only learned valuable skills in how to kill people efficiently and how to ride horses, but also how to play the lyre and how to heal. (most likely he learns a few more things, but it's hard to tell.) Sometime or other, he meets Patroclus, a boy a few years older than him who's been sent out of his kingdom for killing someone. The two immediately become the best of friends, though Achilles is, from the very beginning, obviously the better of the two. For some reason, Patroclus manages to be very unenvious, though.

Thetis now learns that if her son fights in a war that is brewing about some adultress (Helen), her son will be killed. So, to save him from going to war, she has him dressed up as a woman and sent to the island of Scryos. Achilles spends a bit of time there, inpregnates the princess, and does whatever Grecian women did until Agamemnon's drafting party reaches there. They know that Achilles is there, but can't figure out quite how to get him to reveal himself...until Odysseus comes up with a plan. Pretending to be a peddler he goes into the castle and spreads his wears. When one of the girls, Pyrrha, shows an unfeminine love of the sword and sheild, Odyesseus decides that this must be Achilles, and off they go. (Could you image what would have happened if Achilles decided that he prefered trinkets to swords, but one of the maidens decided that they loved swords? Odysseus would have a problem...)

Later Life: They sail away (after Iphegenia is sacrificed) and land on an island. There someone (I foget who) challenges Achilles and he hurts him severly, though not mortally. Patroclus too is wounded. Achilles heals his best friend, and later, when the assaliant goes to try to find Achilles (from the prophesy that only the person who harmed him may heal him), Odysseus heals him with rust from the spear. (probably symbolically yarrow, which is known to help stop bleeding)

We now move into Iliad realm where some of what I say might actually have occured...The Greeks have been in front of Troy for nine years now. Achilles and his army, the Myrmidions (Ants) have grown a bit restless and sacked eleven cites around Troy, brining back a large amount of wealth and captives such as Chryseis (Agamemnon's mistress) and Breseis (Achilles' captive). Chyrseis, however, is the daughter of Chryses, a priest of Apollo. He goes to randsome his daughter and Agamemnon turns him away, so he prays to Apollo to punish the Greeks.

Apollo responds by sending a plague. Achilles, a little worried about the heavy fatalities, consults an oracle who tells them that they must return Chryseis. He tells Agamemnon so and Agamemnon refuses. Achilles persists. Agamemnon says that, alright, he'll release his captive, but first he's going to get a new captive. Achilles tells him that taking back the prizes of war isn't fair, and that he can wait until they sack a new city and pick his favorite three girls out of the women they take. Agamemonon refuses, and says that he'll take Breseis, Achilles' captive. After doing so, Achilles becomes furious and refuses to fight or to have his men fight, instead sulking in his tent, only letting his closest friends be by him.

Achilles now sulks all day in his tents playing the lyre and singing and talking with his friend Patrocles. He also prays that Zeus will make Agamemnon really sorry for insulting him. So Zeus does so and helps Hector, the main Trojan hero, to attack the Greeks. Hector drives them back so far that he practically sets their ships on fire. Agamemnon becomes worried and sends, without appologising, a messanger to promise gifts to Achilles if he will rejoin. Achilles, however, figures out that Agamemnon really isn't appologising, and refuses.

Things get worse, and worse, and worse...finally Achilles relents. He still won't go back into battle, but he'll let his best friend Patrocles take his suit of armor, his chariots, and his army and go into battle in his place. He also warns Patrocles to stay away from the gates of Troy, for fear that he might be injured.

The plan works! The Trojans are terrified and Patroclus drives them all the way to the gates of Troy before he's killed by Hector. Hector then strips Achilles' armor off of Patrocles and puts it on himself. However, the Greek captains Menelaus and Ajax do manage to retrieve Patroclus' body.

Achilles goes mad with rage and sorrow when he finds what has happened to his best friend's body. (not to mention a little guilt?) He refuses to bury Patroclus, eat, drink, or sleep until he has killed Hector. However, since his armor is gone, his mother offers to ask Hephaustus to make new armor for him.

The next morning he sets out to hunt Hector as well as to kill every Trojan that he can see. (except for the twelve that he intends to sacrifice to Patroclus) He finally (after a few adventures) manages to kill Hector. Not being enough, he then slices through Hector's ankes, inserts a rope, and drags his body around Patroclus and the walls of Troy in the dirt with his chariot.

Patroclus' ghost begs to be burried, so Achilles burries him, cutting off his long fair hair (which his father promised the gods so that he could come home. It was fated that he would die shortly after Hector, and he knows this) and burns him and a ton of other stuff. He then drags Hector's corpse about a bit more.

Finally King Priam, Hector's father, comes to randsome Hector's body. Instructed by the Gods to relinquish it, Achilles gives the body back to Priam. End Iliad

Achilles still has a few stories left. Immediately after fighting begins, the Amazons come to save Troy. They are lead by their queen, Penthesilea, who after slaughtering hoards of Greeks, meets against Achilles in single comabat. Achilles pierces her through the heart with his spear to kill her and she falls lifeless. Upon taking off her helmet and seeing the beatiful woman, Achilles falls madly in love with her. When then taunted by a foot soldiar, Achilles kills him. Achilles then fights and defeats the king of the Ethiopians.

The Death of Achilles: The Trojans are desperate to stop Achilles. They are so desperate, in fact, that they offer to give him the beautiful princess Polyxena as his bride if he will only stop fighting. Achilles agrees, and goes, as summoned, to the Temple of Apollo. Bad idea. There lies Apollo (or Paris) armed with a poison arrow. The archer aims for Achilles' heel and hits him, and he falls dead. A new fight resumes for Achilles' body, won by the Greeks. Paris shortly dies and Apollo is severly chastized for his cowardly beheavior.

Achilles After Death: Never willing to just sit about and do nothing, Achilles' ghost appears and demands that the princess Polyxena be sacrificed to him once Troy is sacked or else he will raise the winds and make it impossible for them to go home. After sacking Troy, his son, Neoptalamus, sacrificed Polyxena to Achilles. He is later visited, in the Underworld, by Odysseus and complains about how boring it is, how all of the spirits are witless, etc. He appears to be the only one who has kept a more or less complete mind. How boring! He also asks about his father, Peleus, and his son, Neoptalamus. In other stories he is reunited with Helen of Troy, Iphegenia, or Polyxena in the Isle of the Blest.

Pictures of Achilles

One of the better of the Grecian vase pictures showing Achilles' face and torso
Achilles Healing Patroclus
The Surrender of Briseis by Bertel Thorwaldsen
Bust of Achilles by Bertel Thorwaldsen

Documents about Achilles

The Fall of Troy by Quintus, Book One This segement describes Penthesilea, the Amazon Queen
Perfidity Does Apollo lie?
What Achilles Said to the Tortoise by Lewis Carrol
Iphegenia at Aulis by Euripides (Summary)
Quotes about Achilles from Various Sources
My infamous, and very silly, The Trojan War Heroes: Where They are Today

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