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crossref-it.info - AS/A2 English Literature Study Guides - texts in context.

 

A-Z » Achilles

Definition

Achilles was the son of Peleus, a mortal, and Thetis, the sea-goddess. Thetis wanted to make her son immortal, so she put him in fire at night and poured ambrosia on him during the day. But Peleus saw her one night, and stopped her. Thetis then left her husband and child and returned to the sea. A later version says that Thetis dipped Achilles into the River Styx to make him immortal, but in doing so, she had to hold on to him by his heel. This left this part of his body mortal: hence the phrase 'Achilles' heel' came to mean someone's weak point. Peleus asked Cheiron the centaur to bring up his son. He learned medicine, music and skills in hunting, and became a very fast runner. On his return to his home, he met his next tutor, Phoenix and his future closest friend, Patroclus, who were now living at court.

In the tenth year of the Trojan War, Agamemnon had to give up Chryseis his concubine, because Apollo was angry with him. In his anger, Agamemnon took Achilles' own concubine Briseis, whom he loved dearly. In revenge, Achilles refused to fight, appealing to Zeus through his mother Thetis to make the Trojans so successful that the Greeks would need Achilles. Achilles' friends begged him to return, but he refused. In the end, Patroclus himself tried, asking Achilles at least to allow him to wear his armour while he led Achilles' men. Achilles agreed, telling his friend only to force the Greeks back to their ships. Patroclus did this, but then continued fighting. Hector killed Patroclus, and Achilles was heartbroken. He was determined to avenge his friend's death, even though Thetis warned him his own death would follow soon after Hector's. Returning to the battle in fury, Achilles killed many Trojans, before killing Hector. Not satisfied with this, he dragged the body behind his chariot, even after giving Patroclus full burial rites, for many days. Finally, Priam came to him at night to beg for the return of his son's body. Achilles at last came to terms with what he had done, and returned the body for burial.

Son of Peleus and Thetis; he was the mainstay of the Greeks at Troy but in the tenth year of the war he was killed by Paris' arrow; the wrath of Achilles, when he withdrew from the fighting around Troy because of a quarrel with Agamemnon, is the subj
King of Phthia in Thessaly, the husband of Thetis and father of Achilles.
A sea-nymph, the daughter of Nereus, wife of Peleus and mother of Achilles.
The food (later, the drink) of the Greek gods, conferring eternal youth.
Styx ' a river of the Underworld.
A Centaur, son of Cronos, known for his wisdom. (Also known as Chiron.)
Creatures who were half-man and half-horse. Most of them were vicious and savage, but Cheiron was a wise teacher and adviser.
A tutor of Achilles, with whom he went to Troy.
The loved friend of Achilles. Achilles' refusal to fight brought about Patroclus' death, and in turn hastened his own death.
King Menelaus raised an expedition to reclaim his wife Helen from Paris of Troy.
King of Mycenae, son of Atreus, brother of Menelaus and husband of Clytemnestra.
Daughter of Chryses, priest of Apollo, taken by the Greeks and given to Agamemnon as a concubine.
God of prophecy, music, the arts, medicine and archery.
Son of Peleus and Thetis; he was the mainstay of the Greeks at Troy but in the tenth year of the war he was killed by Paris' arrow; the wrath of Achilles, when he withdrew from the fighting around Troy because of a quarrel with Agamemnon, is the subj
Achilles' concubine during the Trojan War, the loss of whom led to many deaths.
Son of Cronos, ruler and chief of the Greek gods, originally a sky-god. (Roman name: Jupiter.)
A sea-nymph, the daughter of Nereus, wife of Peleus and mother of Achilles.
From Troy: An ancient city on the Asiatic shore of the Hellespont; it was sacked by the Greeks after a ten-year siege.
The loved friend of Achilles. Achilles' refusal to fight brought about Patroclus' death, and in turn hastened his own death.
Son of king Priam of Troy and the mainstay of the Trojan force until killed by Achilles.
Son of king Priam of Troy and the mainstay of the Trojan force until killed by Achilles.
The most powerful and last king of Troy.