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Achilles is a famous hero that was a mortal. He was a great hero but still mortal, even after the efforts of his mother. Achilles is the one from the Greek stories who was dipped in the River Styx. His story however begins before him. Let me explain…

Achilles’ mother, Thetis, was a beautiful sea nymph or nereid. Zeus being the horny God he is, had an intense interest in her as his brother Poseidon. For a time they tried to court her. Some stories say Prometheus told Zeus about the prophecy connected to Thetis and he withdrew his suit. Other stories say she rejected him and he decreed she would never marry an immortal being. The prophecy was that she would give birth to a son who would be greater than his father. Of course, that would be a big turn-off for Zeus and Poseidon. Either way, the result was the same. Thetis married Peleus, King of the Myrmidons. One other tale could be true here. Thetis was loyal to Hera, Zeus’s sister and wife. Since Hera is important to Thetis, as Hera raised her, Thetis refused Zeus. The result still remains the same.

To get Thetis to marry him, Peleus had to find her when she was asleep and tie her up tightly. They warned she would shapeshift to escape. Thetis shifted to flame, water, a lioness, and a serpent. Peleus help on. When Thetis tired, she agreed to marry Peleus. The couple wed on Mount Pelion outside of Chiron the Centaur’s cave. The Olympians attended the wedding and many gifts were given to the couple from the Gods. Discord being Discord, threw the famous golden apple into the party to be awarded to the fairest Goddess. We know how that ended.

When Thetis had Achilles, she dipped him in the River Styx to try and make him immortal. Imagine being an immortal being, knowing that you will outlive your husband and son. She probably wasn’t worried about her husband given the courting, but her son? She got all of him except where she held him while she dipped him on his ankle. Achilles would be raised by Chiron. Yeah, the centaur from earlier at the wedding. Thetis was a very hands-off mother. She left her husband and son and went back to the sea nymphs. Peleus was a king and had a kingdom to rule. So Achilles went to Chiron. Chiron was a good father figure. He made sure Achilles was strong in both mind and body. Patroclus joins Achilles and Chrion. Achilles and Patroclus become very close.

There were a couple of prophecies attached to Achilles. The first stopped Zeus and Poseidon in their tracks because Thetis’s son would be greater than his father. The second was that Achilles would either live a short glorious life with a name that lives on. Or he could have a long life in obscurity. His mother knew that if he fought in the Trojan war, he would die. Thetis begged him to chose the long life. Of course, Achilles does not.

If you have seen the movie Troy, you have the basic idea of what was written about for the Trojan War. The movie makes it seem like it happened over a week tops when in fact the war was decades-long. Hector did kill Patroclus, and Patroclus was wearing Achilles’ armor, but getting to kill Hector took Achilles a while. Even then it took Athena tricking Hector for Achilles to finally take his revenge. It is Paris who takes Achilles’ life, with a bow and arrows. Depending on the story, the type of arrow or reason Paris kills him differs. The Illiad says it was simply an arrow shot by Paris.

If Achilles in fact looked like Brad Pitt, then he was a very blessed man. If you had the choice, live a glorious life but it is short, or live a long life in obscurity, which would you choose? Why? Let me know in the comments below. Until next week…