Who Is Achilles?

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In Greek legend, Achilles was the son of the king of the Myrmidons, Peleas, and the Nereid Thetis. He was said to have been dipped into the river Styx by his mother, making him invulnerable, except for his ankle, the Achilles' heel.

Upon hearing from an oracle that Achilles would die at Troy, his father Peleas dressed him as a girl and sent him to live wth Lycomedes on Scyros. The soothsayer Calches told the Greeks that without Achilles they could not conquer Troy, so they hunted until they found him.

At Troy, Achilles proved to be one of the Greeks' greatest warriors, conquering 12 towns ruled by Troy over the first nine years of the war. However, the Greek king Agamemnon took Achilles' wife Briseis as a concubine, after which Achilles refused to fight for him. He lent Patroclus, Achilles' best friend, his armor and chariot when the Greeks began to lose, and the Trojan Hector killed Patroclus. Achilles, furious and guilty, reconciled with the Greeks and killed Hector, dragging his body around the walls of Troy nine times. King Priam, Hector's father, begged Achilles to return the body, which he did. While the Iliad ends with Hector's funeral, other poets tell of Achille's later deeds and ultimate death when Paris of Troy shot him in the vulnerable ankle with a poisoned arrow.