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