Achilles is considered one of the most remarkable warriors who ever lived. The hero achieved great fame through his extraordinary deeds during the Trojan War. As a central figure in Homer's Iliad, his heroic deeds and unwavering determination have secured him a place in Greek mythology as a symbol of courage and strength.

Of course, the legend of Achilles begins with his childhood. When he was still small, his mother Thetis dipped him in the river Styx to give him invulnerability. She was aware of his fate, that he would either lead a glorious but short life or a long life in obscurity.

However, the heel with which she held him was not dipped in the river, leaving him with his only vulnerable spot, which later became known as the famous Achilles heel. This seemingly insignificant weak spot eventually became a central element in the tales of Achilles' life and the Trojan War.

The story of Achilles continues to develop as he becomes a central figure in the Trojan War, helping King Agamemnon and his fellow Greeks fight the Trojans. His unsurpassed fighting skills, coupled with his strong conviction and courage, gave Achilles legendary status among the heroes of Greek mythology, especially during the fierce battles recounted in the Iliad.

In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about the strongest hero in Greek mythology.

Hero Achilles in Greek Mythology - An Overview

The Birth and Early Life of Achilles

Achilles, the son of the mortal Peleus, king of the Myrmidons, and the divine Thetis, a Nereid or sea nymph, is known as one of the greatest heroes of Greek mythology. His story begins with a prophecy about his birth. Thetis, who was initially coveted by Zeus, eventually married Peleus on the basis of an oracle's warning that the child of Thetis and Zeus would surpass his father in greatness.

Achilles was born with extraordinary qualities, including exceptional strength and courage. According to legend, to make him invulnerable, Thetis dipped her infant son in the River Styx, a mythological river that bestows invincibility on those who dip into it. However, she held him by the heel, leaving a vulnerable spot and giving rise to the term "Achilles' heel", which refers to a person's only weakness.

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Growing up, Achilles was trained by the centaur Chiron, who was known for his wisdom and skill in medicine and warfare. As a young man, Achilles lived at the court of King Lycomedes on the island of Skyros. Here, Thetis disguised her son as a young girl to protect him from a prophecy that foretold his death in the Trojan War.

The Prophecy Surrounding Achilles

According to that prophecy, Achilles was either destined for a short but glorious life as a warrior or a long, obscure life away from the battlefield. Thetis, concerned for her son's safety, tried to keep Achilles away from the war and sent him to Skyros in disguise. In the course of events, however, Achilles became a key figure in the Trojan War, representing the Achaeans and proving to be their greatest warrior.

Notable achievements in his life include the famous Shield of Achilles, crafted by the god Hephaestus, and the command of numerous important battles during the Trojan War. Despite his exploits and unsurpassed prowess in battle, Achilles eventually succumbed to prophecy and met his end at the hands of Paris, who pierced his vulnerable heel with an arrow.

Achilles' Role in the Trojan War

Achilles Statue Wellington Monument Credits TonyBaggett CanvaAchilles Statue Wellington Monument - Credits:TonyBaggett/ Canva

Achilles, the greatest of all Greek heroes, played a decisive role in the conflict between the Greeks and the Trojans. In Homer’s epic, Achilles was more than just a prominent figure. He was the protagonist of the Iliad. Achilles and other heroes like Odysseus ultimately led the Greeks to victory.

Achilles' Divine Connections and Godly Interference

Achilles' divine heritage made him an important part of the Trojan War, as his mother Thetis had powerful connections to the gods. In Homer's Iliad, Achilles' relationship with the gods often led to direct interference and influenced the course of the war. For example, when Agamemnon insulted Achilles, Thetis convinced Zeus to help the Trojans in order to turn the tide of battle against the Greeks.

During the conflict, Achilles faced numerous challenges and opponents. He developed a close friendship with his companion Patroclus, who later dressed in Achilles' armor to deceive the Trojans. Tragically, Patroclus was killed by Hector, the Trojan prince, with the help of the god Apollo. Achilles then sought revenge, which led to a dramatic and brutal confrontation with Hector that ended in his death.

Trojan Horse Credits AlexKosev Canva

Trojan Horse - Credits: AlexKosev/ Canva

Various gods were involved in Achilles' battles. Hephaestus, the god of fire, forged a brand new suit of armor for him after the death of Patroclus. Achilles' divine abilities were demonstrated when he fought against the Trojans and their allies, such as Memnon.

At the height of the war, the ultimate divine intervention sealed Achilles' fate. Paris, the Trojan prince, shot an arrow directed by Apollo, which struck Achilles in the vulnerable heel and resulted in his death. Despite his tragic end, Achilles' influence on the Trojan War was undeniable. As the supreme Greek warrior, his exploits became the epitome of heroism and inspired generations of heroes.

The Armor and Weapons of Achilles

Achilles’ armor and weapons played a significant role in overcoming the challenges of the Trojan War. Achilles' famous armor, forged by the god Hephaestus, consisted of a helmet, a breastplate, greaves and a shield. The helmet resembled a Corinthian design and provided protection while ensuring visibility and ventilation.

The breastplate was made of a robust metal, possibly bronze or a similar material, and provided Achilles' chest with adequate protection. Greaves, or armored shin guards, were also part of Achilles' clothing.

One of the most distinctive parts of Achilles’ armor is his shield. The shield is described in detail in Homer's Iliad as an elaborately decorated and multi-layered work of art. It contained a number of detailed images, including scenes from Greek mythology and everyday life. This magnificent shield not only served as a means of defense, but also represented the great artistry of its divine creator, Hephaestus.

Apart from his impressive armor, Achilles was also known for his magnificent spear. The spear is said to have been given to his father, King Peleus, by the centaur Chiron. It was made of ash wood, which was known for its strength and durability. The combination of such powerful and legendary armor with this fearsome weapon contributed to Achilles' reputation as an unsurpassed warrior among Greek heroes.

Although Achilles was undoubtedly an exceptional warrior, he was not the only Greek hero with exceptional armor or weaponry. Another well-known figure in Greek mythology, Hercules, also possessed specially crafted and powerful weapons, such as his iconic club and the bow and arrows he used to accomplish his famous Twelve Labors.

In any case, Achilles' legendary armor and weapons are synonymous with his exceptional fighting abilities and his place in the collective memory of Greek mythology.

The Death of Achilles: The Heel and the Arrow

statue of achilles Credits Gile68 Deposit Photos

Statue of Achilles - Credits: Gile68/ Deposit Photos

As mentioned above, Achilles is known for his heroic deeds and his key role in the Trojan War. As a great warrior, Achilles' exceptional strength, courage and loyalty were unsurpassed.

Achilles' mortality was to play an important role in the later events of his life. One of the key episodes that led to his downfall was the death of Patroclus. This close companion and comrade-in-arms was slain by Hector, the eldest prince of Troy, which eventually led Achilles to seek revenge.

Driven by a heroic ethos, Achilles returned to the battlefield to avenge Patroclus. In a dramatic and single-handed battle, he defeated Hector and dishonored his body by dragging it behind his chariot.

Apollo, the god of archery, played an important role in Achilles' eventual downfall. The god was enraged by Achilles' actions against Hector and wanted to ensure his retribution. Apollo guided the hand of Paris, Hector's brother, to shoot an arrow at Achilles' vulnerable heel. The arrow hit the mark and inflicted a fatal wound on the heroic warrior, ending his life.

Achilles' death was therefore no coincidence, but a sequence of events determined by the faults and virtues that made him a legend. His heel, which remained his only weak point, was the instrument of his undoing. Achilles' life, though full of heroism, served as a lesson in humility, the acceptance of one's own limitations and the tragic consequences of hubris.

The Cultural Impact of Achilles

As the greatest and most famous Greek hero, Achilles embodies desirable qualities such as strength, bravery and loyalty.

In Greek art, the heroic deeds of Achilles are a popular theme. He is often depicted in various art forms, including pottery, sculptures and frescoes. These visual representations show the admiration the Greeks had for Achilles and how his courage and determination aligned with their values and aspirations.

Another significant aspect of Achilles' cultural influence is the concept of Achilles' heel. This term today symbolizes a person's unique weakness or vulnerability in the midst of their greatness.

The story of Achilles has inspired literary works such as Homer's Iliad, in which his exploits during the Trojan War are the central theme. It describes his role in defeating the Trojans and his various victories, including his fierce combat against Hector, the Trojan prince. The tales of Achilles have been passed down through the generations and have shaped the cultural landscape of Greece and beyond.

In conclusion, the cultural impact of Achilles in Greek mythology goes far beyond his role in the Trojan War. His heroism, his values and his distinctive Achilles' heel captured the imagination of the ancient Greeks and left a significant legacy in art, literature and the collective consciousness of people throughout history.

Archaeological Sites and Historical Evidence

Although many aspects of the story of Achilles belong to the realm of myth, certain archeological excavations and historical evidence provide insight into the world that inspired these ancient tales.

Mycenae, the capital of the ancient Greek city-state ruled by King Agamemnon, is one such archeological site. Excavations have uncovered palaces, tombs and numerous artifacts from the heroic age in which the epic literature is set, providing a deeper understanding of the cultural context in which the mythology was created.

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Archeological excavations in the wider region, including at the ancient city of Troy, have reinforced the possibility that the Trojan War was based on historical events. These discoveries and the practice of oral tradition in ancient Greece suggest that Achilles and his fellow Greeks were inspired by real warriors who fought in the conflicts between the Greek city-states.

Some scholars and adventurers have tried to find the lost tomb of Achilles in order to obtain concrete evidence of Achilles. Alexander the Great, who worshipped Achilles, visited the alleged tomb during his Asian campaign in the 4th century BC. However, the exact location of the tomb remains a mystery and its discovery would provide significant insights into the historicity of the figure.

In summary, while much of the narrative of Achilles is undoubtedly mythological, certain archeological sites and historical finds suggest a connection to the real world of ancient Greece and its Heroic Age. Even without conclusive evidence, the study of these sites expands our understanding of the cultural, historical and social context from that the enduring legend of Achilles and other heroes from this era emerged.


Who was Achilles in Greek mythology?

Achilles was a prominent Greek hero in the Trojan War. He was the son of the mortal king, Peleus, and the sea nymph, Thetis. Known for his great strength, courage, and loyalty, Achilles was the bravest and handsomest warrior in the Greek army.

What is the significance of Achilles' heel?

In Greek mythology, Achilles' heel symbolizes a single point of vulnerability. When he was an infant, Thetis bathed him in the waters of the River Styx to make him immortal, holding him only by his heel. This left his heel as his only vulnerable spot, giving rise to the term "Achilles' heel" to describe a person's sole weakness.

How did Achilles die?

Achilles met his end when he was struck in his vulnerable heel by an arrow shot by Paris, the Trojan prince. This fatal wound caused his death, fulfilling the prophecy that he would either die as a glorious warrior or live a long and unremarkable life.

What was the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus?

Achilles and Patroclus were close friends and companions in Greek mythology. They were raised together by Thetis in Phthia and their companionship continued during the Trojan War. Patroclus' death at the hands of Hector deeply affected Achilles, which fueled his rage and desire for vengeance, leading to his final battles in the war.

What are some of the key facts about Achilles in Greek mythology?

Achilles was the greatest warrior in the Greek army during the Trojan War. His mother, Thetis, tried to make him immortal by bathing him in the River Styx when he was an infant, leaving only his heel vulnerable. The terrific warrior was known for his immense strength, courage, and loyalty, as well as his pride, fierce temper, and vengeful nature.