Achilles Grieves for Patroclus
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Priam Begging for Hector's Body
The Sacking of Troy
ACHILLES PART SIX - THE END
Continued from page five
With Hector now dead and the Trojans completely demoralized,
Achilles proceeded to bury Patroclus and to offer sacrifices to
those Olympian god who had assisted him so favorably thus far.
No funeral expense was spared. To the altar of the gods Achilles
sacrificed numerous horses, two of Patroclus' own hounds and
twelve noble Trojan captives, several sons of Priam among them.
Some critics claim that the dark, less than heroic, side of
Achilles was revealed when he slaughtered the Trojans in cold
blood while offering sacrifice. Indeed there is no doubt that
Achilles was a flawed hero, consumed by bloodlust, wrath and
He was driven by a lust for glory and he recognized how very
hard it was to act with integrity and nobility when so much was
Still beside himself in grief, at dawn every day Achilles would
drag Hector's body three times around Patroclus' tomb. Finally
at the command of Zeus, Hermes led Priam to the Greek camp one
The inconsolable king of Troy beseeched Achilles to ransom his
son's body, throwing himself at the warrior's feet begging. He
pleaded with Achilles to permit a proper funeral befitting such
a brave and noble prince.
Oddly enough Priam found Achilles asleep alone in his tent and
could have tried to kill him but chose not to. The old man was
beyond revenge - He just wanted his son's corpse back.
Achilles was greatly moved by King Priam's love for his dead son
and amazed at how little the man cared for his own safety. If
there was ever a time for compassion, this was it.
They agreed to exchange the corpse for Hector's weight in gold
and a pair of scales were set up outside the city walls.
Hector's body was laid in one pan and the Trojans were invited
to heap their gold in the other until the scales balanced.
When at last Priam's treasury was empty and still Hector's burly
corpse was heavier, Polyxena, a Trojan princess, threw down her
bracelets to provide the missing weight.
Impressed at her courage Achilles offered to exchange the gold
for the beautiful woman and Priam told him that she was freely
his if Achilles persuaded the Greeks to depart without Helen,
ending the war.
No deal. Achilles and his warriors promptly commenced with their
rout of the Trojans and pursued them towards the city. But
Poseidon and Apollo had pledged to punish certain deaths which
had offended them, and also some insolent boasts uttered by
Achilles as he stood gloating over the corpse of Hector.
As well, the desecration of Hector's corpse by Achilles when it
was dragged around the fortifications of Troy did not sit too
well with the gods. Dishonor this extreme did not befit such a
Apollo sought out Paris during the battle and divinely guided
his hand. Throughout the ten year war, daily Paris was consumed
by guilt, knowing that this unimaginable destruction was all his
fault. But his love for Helen remained steadfast.
What made matters worse was that Hector never once, well,
'hectored' Paris about his bad decisions and his dependence on
physical love. The big brother was nothing but supportive of his
little brother, despite the latter's foibles, and somehow that
only made things worse for Paris.
And now his big brother was dead, in a fashion most foul!
Because of him!
The poison-tipped arrow of Paris, steered by the unerring hand
of the god of light, found the only vulnerable spot on Achilles,
his right heel. And the great hero of the Trojan War died
writhing in agony.
Others say that it was Apollo himself, disguised as Paris, who
struck the fatal shot.
A great battle raged over the fallen hero's corpse until finally
the Greeks carried dead Achilles through the midst of the enemy
and back to their camp, devastated at the loss of their greatest
To make amends with his mother Thetis, Poseidon promised to
bestow on Achilles an island where he would be worshipped and
receive divine sacrifices for eternity. The Nine Muses sang his
funeral dirges while a host of Nereids offered solace to Thetis.
His corpse was burned upon a pyre on the eighteenth day and his
ashes mixed with those of Patroclus, laid in a golden urn made
by Hephaestus and buried at Sigaeum. But Thetis snatched
Achilles' soul from the pyre and brought it to the island of
Leuce, where he rejoined his dead friends, including Patroclus.
Helen, the cause of the war, was his bride there, by some
accounts. Yet others claim that Achilles went to Hades where he
complains bitterly of his lot in life as he stomps about the
And other ancient writers say that he married Medea, of Golden
Fleece fame, and that they live like king and queen in the
Elysian Fields, or the Islands of the Blessed.
By the way, soon thereafter the Greeks won the Trojan War,
utilizing the diabolical Trojan Horse to sneak their warriors
into the city and sack it, forever reducing it to ashes..
Evidently nobody warned them to beware of Greeks bearing gifts.
Actually, Cassandra warned them, but no-one believed her. Pity.