Dictionary Of Hindu Religion | Sketches
Achilles is not a Hindu character and is not described in any of its religious scripture at all. He is the Greek hero of Trojan War of Homer's poem Iliad. Iliad gives account of only of a few days of war and does not give the account of Achilles death. His biography is given here just for reference. He has an idiom on his name "Achilles' Heel", which means "weak point". "Achilles' Heel" term was first used by a Dutch anatomist Verheyden in 1693 when he dissected his own amputated leg.
Achilles was the son of a man named Peleus and a Divine nymph called Thetis. Both Zeus and Poseidon gods were the suitors for Thetis, but Prometheus warned Zeus that Thetis will have a son greater than his father, so both the gods abandoned the idea to marry her and let her marry Peleus. One of the conditions of his parents to get this son was that he would die in war and will make his mother very sad; while Thetis wanted her son to be invincible and immortal.
So according to one version, she smeared his body with Amrit and kept him hung over the fire so that his all mortal properties are burnt. Seeing this Peleus, his father got stunned, he pulled his son away from the fire. He then gave the kid to Choron who took care of the boy and educated him.
According to another version, Thetis held her son upside down, holding him by his heel and immersed him in a sacred river Styx; because it was believed that whoever touched that sacred water of the River Styx became immortal. But since his mother held him from his heel, his heel remained mortal.
Meanwhile some goddesses got interested, for example, Eris the goddess of Discord got angry because she was not invited to Peleus and Thetis wedding, and she threw a golden apple threw in the process. There were some other greedy goddesses too, so they reached it.
Another god Zeus also appeared there and said that the Prince of Troy Paris will be the judge. The goddess who would be able to brie Paris would win. Now one goddesses promised this Paris someone's else's wife Helen. Both Paris and Helen were very beautiful. In fact Helen was the wife of Menelaus, the King of Sparta. Paris had a friendly visit to the King of Sparta and the King of Sparta welcomed him and treated him very well. The King had to go to attend a funeral and this gave an opportunity to Paris to run away with Helen.
When Menelaus came back and herd of running away of is wife he invaded Troy and this war was the famous Trojan War. People had all kinds of ideas about the war but there was a seer who told that this war would be lost until Achilles fought this war. At this Achilles mother dressed him as a girl and sent him to Scyros to save him from the war. While he was there, some people made out who he was and tricked him to participate in the war.
The siege of Troy and the Trojan War continued for 10 years. Obviously many people died in this war. Later Menelaus and Paris fought duel and just when Paris was about to be killed, goddess Aphrodite saved him. Agamemnon joined this war with his colleague Achilles in its 9th year. Meanwhile Achilles had several affairs, though all were not females. Later Agamemnon got panicky and asked Achilles to return from the war.
Thetis again asked a goddess to prepare an armor suit for her son, so Achilles started slaughtering everyone including an Amazon Queen Penthesilea. Penthesilea was very beautiful, he did not want to kill her, but he understood that it was difficult to win her so he killed her. But after killing her he grieved over her death very much, nd an Ethiopian King Memnon and Hector too. Before killing Hector, Achilles chased Hector around the wall of Troy three times. Later Achilles tied Hector's body to his chariot and gave a round all over. Achilles gave royal funeral for his dead soldiers, a bunch of women at the altar and had funeral games in the honor of the dead.
Paris took the help of god Apollo and killed Achilles by piercing a poisonous arrow in his heel - this was the part of his body which remained untouched of the water of that sacred river. Thus no godly interference could save Thetis' son from his fate.
Created by Sushma Gupta On 5/27/04
Modified on 10/20/12