Directions: The story of the Iliad is, in fact, the story of Achilles. Please make some comments on the hero Achilles by citing some specific details of his stories. You should use your own ideas and knowledge and specific details of the mythological stories to develop your essay. For this part, you should write at least 400 words.
Achilles in My View
Among the Greeks who fought against Troy, Achilles is the bravest far beyond the others. His mother was the goddess Thetis, a Nereid. His father was Peleus, king of Thessaly and a grandson of Zeus, the lord of heaven. It was at the wedding feast of Thetis and Peleus that the goddess Eris hurled among the guests a golden apple that was to cause the Trojan War.
Soon after the birth of Achilles, Thetis tried to outwit the fates, who had foretold that war would cut down her son in his prime. So that no weapon might ever wound him, she dipped her baby in the black waters of the Styx, the river that flowed around the underworld. Only the heel by which she held him was untouched by the magic water, and this was the only part of his body that could be wounded. This is the source of the expression Achilles’ heel, meaning a vulnerable point.
Not to mention his teenage years. When the Trojan War began, Achilles’ mother, fearing that the decree of the fates would prove true, dressed him as a girl and hid him among the maidens at the court of the king of Scyros. The trick did not succeed. Odysseus, the shrewdest of the Greeks, went to the court disguised as a peddler. When he had spread his wares before the girls, a sudden trumpet blast was played. The girls screamed and fled, but Achilles betrayed the male identity by taking out a sword and spear from the peddler’s stock.
In addition to the above, Achilles joined the battle and took command of his father’s men, myrmidons. They set an example of bravery for the other Greeks. Then he quarreled with Agamemnon, the leader of the Greeks, over a captive whom he loved. When she was taken from him, he withdrew his soldiers from the fight and sulked in his tent. As a result the Greek armies were driven back to their ships by the enemy.
At last, moved by the plight of the Greeks, Achilles entrusted his men and his armor to Patroclus, his best friend. Thus, when Patroclus led the myrmidons into battle, the enemy mistook him for Achilles and fled in panic. Patroclus, however, was killed by Hector, the leader of the enemy. Achilles’ armor became the prize of Hector. Angered and stricken by grief, Achilles vowed to kill Hector. Finally, his mother hastened to Olympus. She wanted to beg a new suit of armor from Hephaestus. Achilles again went into battle. Achilles then killed Hector.
Although enemy had now lost their leaders, they were able to continue fighting with the help of other nations. Achilles was now weary of war and, moreover, had fallen in love with Polyxena, sister of Hector. To win her in marriage he consented to ask the Greeks to make peace. He was in the temple arranging for the marriage when Hector’s brother, Paris, shot him with a poisoned arrow in the only vulnerable part of his body—the heel.