Mythman's Greek Mythology Today
MYTH MAN'S GREATEST HEROES IN MYTHOLOGY

THE LIFE & DEATH OF ACHILLES

WARRIOR AND LEGENDARY TROJAN WAR HERO


PARIS & HELEN
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Thetis Presenting Achilles
to the Centaur Chiron
by Pompeo Batoni
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Thetis Takes Achilles
from Chiron
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ACHILLES PART TWO - HE GROWS UP
Continued from page one

It's worth noting that the wedding of Thetis and Peleus indirectly brought on the Trojan War. Here's how it went down:

All of the gods and VIPs had been invited by Zeus to the wedding of the Nereid and the mortal Peleus, except for Eris, the goddess of Discord.

Can't really blame them - who on earth would want to invite Discord to a wedding? That would be asking for trouble!

To get even for the snub, Eris tossed a golden apple in the midst of the gathering, and labeled it "To the Fairest". A furious quarell soon ensued between the beautiful goddesses Hera, Aphrodite and Athena, as to who the rightful recipient of the golden apple should be.

Eris had accomplished her task and Discord reigned at the wedding!

The decision as to who was most beautiful was left to a shepherd named Paris, since Zeus wanting nothing at all to do with this ruling. For Zeus it was a lose-lose situration.

Paris awarded the apple to goddess of love Aphrodite on the promise of winning the hand of Helen, the most beautiful mortal on earth. Even though she was already married to Menelaus, king of Sparta, Aphrodite caused Helen to fall in love with Paris. When he abducted her (willingly, I might add) and Paris and Helen fled to Troy, the Greeks launched the epic Trojan War.

Ironically, it would be th same war that, years later, would claim the life of the as-yet unborn son of Thetis and Peleus, the great Achilles.

Since Achilles was only half god (from Thetis) and half mortal (from Peleus) his mother wished to make him completely immortal. When he was young she dipped him in the waters of the infernal river Styx, found in the Underworld. Thus he became invulnerable, save for the spot on his heel where she held him.

Still others claim that to make Achilles immortal Thetis would nightly hold him over the fire to get rid of the mortal elements inherited from Peleus, and that in the daytime she would anoint his body with Ambrosia.

Peleus chanced upon his infant son in the fire one night and freaked out on Thetis. In disgust she tossed down the child and left both him and Peleus, rejoining her fellow Nereids. Thetis never stopped caring for her son, however, and always kept an eye out for his welfare.

 In time Peleus took the child to Mount Pelion be reared by the Centaur Cheiron, who was a man from the waist up and a horse from the waist down. Cheiron was a famous mentor, tutor and teacher of many heroes, and it wasn't unusual for kings and royalty to send their sons to the gifted Centaur for martial arts and life training.

On Mount Pelion Achilles was fed meat from lions and wild boars, and the marrow of bears, to give him courage. A diet of honey-comb and fawn's marrow made him a swift runner. Cheiron taught Achilles the arts of riding, hunting, archery, pipe-playing, healing and more.

The Muse Calliope taught him to sing. Achilles exemplified the best qualities of a warrior, coupled with the soul of a poet. And he was a stunningly handsome boy, to boot! Achilles had it going.

He killed his first boar when he was only six years old and every day brought wild animals back to Cheiron. Athena and Artemis gazed in wonder at this beautiful golden-haired child, impressed at his swiftness and skill: Achilles could overtake and kill stags without the help of hounds!

When Achilles was nine years old the prophet Calchas declared that, much as the Greeks may try, their object of desire, mighty Troy would never be taken without the help of Achilles.

Thetis was devastated, for she knew that her son would either die young as a hero at Troy, or live a long and peaceful - yet inglorious - life safe at home.

Her son was no coward, that's for sure. What's a devoted mother to do?

Achilles continues on page three!

 

[PAGE ONE] [PAGETWO] [PAGE THREE] [PAGE FOUR] [PAGE FIVE] [PAGE SIX]

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