Achilles or Achilleus was a hero in Greek mythology. In Homer's Iliad, Achilles was the son of Peleus and the Nereid Thetis. He was the greatest warrior of the Achaean Greeks in their struggle against the Trojans in the Trojan War. His story is at the centre of the Iliad, which starts with the dispute between Achilles and Agamemnon, the Greek king.
Achilles, believing that Agamemnon had dishonoured him, did not wish to bow to the king's leadership. He sat out the battle until the Trojans had almost won the war. Then he entered the battle. He killed the great Hektor, the son of Priam, and the Trojans' greatest hero. The tide of battle turned against the Trojans, and many were slaughtered.
It is believed that Achilles was killed at the end of the war, but this is not said in the Iliad. Achilles was alive over 2000 years ago. It is said that Achilles was born to defeat the Trojans.
Achilles could not be hurt. In some versions of the myths, Thetis, his mother, dipped him into the river Styx, holding the baby by his left heel. Because of that, his heel was still vulnerable. However, the Iliad does not say this.
According to the legend, Achilles was killed by Paris, who shot his heel with a poisoned arrow. He was very angry. He cursed at Paris but Paris fled. Achilles was shot many times by the arrows of Paris' but the only arrow found on his body was through his heel.
In some versions, the god Apollo guided Paris' arrow. Some also state that Achilles was scaling the gates of Troy and was hit with a poisoned arrow. Many versions deny Paris any sort of valor, owing to the common conception that Paris was a coward and not the man his brother Hector was, and Achilles remained undefeated on the battlefield.
Images for kids
Head of Achilles depicted on a 4th-century BC coin from Kremaste, Phthia. Reverse: Thetis, wearing and holding shield of Achilles with his AX monogram
The Rage of Achilles, by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
Achilles sacrificing to Zeus, from the Ambrosian Iliad, a 5th-century illuminated manuscript
Triumphant Achilles dragging Hector's lifeless body in front of the Gates of Troy
Ajax carries off the body of Achilles: Attic black-figure lekythos, ca. 510 BC
Achilles Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.