Achilles

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As seen in

Best of the Achaeans


  Achilles is a Prince of Phthia, the son of an adventurer and a goddess, recruited by Agamemnon to be the powerhouse of the Achaean mission to wreak vengeance on Troy.
  Through his mother, Achilles comes to have some knowledge of his own destiny, including a few details about the timing and circumstances of his own death before the end of the Trojan War.
 
Achilles

 

Family


  Achilles is the product of an arranged marriage between the mortal King Peleus of Phthia and the sea goddess Thetis. His parents became effectively separated on the night their marriage was consummated, and a newborn Achilles was dumped on Peleus’s doorstep nine months later with a note reading, “I believe this thing belongs to you. I made it (mostly) invulnerable. You’re welcome.” Achilles still has the note in his possession.
  Achilles was raised side-by-side with his foster brother, Patroclus. Both boys were tutored by Phoenix, at first, before Achilles showed special aptitude for fighting and was sent for “finishing” to his father’s alma mater, the cave of Chiron the Centaur.
  When word of the boy’s progress reached agents of Agamemnon, Achilles was put at the top of the recruiting list for the Achaean campaign against Troy. In an attempt to protect her son from a fate worse than or equal to death, Thetis snatched the boy from Chiron’s grove and brought him to the island of Skyros, where he might pass for a tall, muscular, hairy-legged maiden for the duration of the war. Achilles was outed as a man due to the cleverness of Odysseus, but not before he’d secretly married Princess Deidamia, the daughter of King Lycomedes, and fathered a son, Pyrrhus (later renamed Neoptolemus).
  At Troy, Achilles reunited with his childhood companion, Patroclus. The two are inseparable and share a hut in the Achaean war camp’s Myrmidon pavilion.
 

Appearance


  According to classical sources, Achilles is the biggest, most powerful, most physically imposing man to ever put on a dress and pass for a teen girl. His most noteworthy feature is his “flame-colored” hair, which may have either been red, yellow, or white, depending on how hot of a flame the ancient poets were describing.
 

Personality


  If Achilles tends to think highly of himself, it’s not without cause. He will speak truth to power when he feels a commanding officer is in the wrong, but he’s also been known to have a bit of a temper and to hold a grudge.
  At the time of Rage, Achilles is torn between his strong sense of justice and what he perceives to be the unfair consequences of acting upon his conscience.
  At the time of Amazons at Troy, Achilles is still coming to grips with events of the Iliad, including the death of his closest friend, Patroclus, for whom he feels personally responsible, not to mention his own rapidly approaching demise. (Seriously, don’t mention it, mortality is kind of a sore spot for him.) Achilles tends to deal with his problems by withdrawing from Achaean society in a melancholy yet musical way.
 

Fighting Style


  Achilles is the strongest warrior on either side of the battlefield. He has the best armor and shield, crafted for him by Hephaestus himself. He is practically invulnerable (except for the back of one heel). He carries a spear that no other man is fit to lift, given to Peleus by the centaur Chiron. He fights like he’s running out of time and knows that he will not survive to see the ultimate fall of his enemies.
 

Military Role


  Achilles reports directly to Agamemnon. He commands 50 ships of about 2,500 elite Myrmidon warriors loyal to his father, Peleus.
  In battle, Achilles likes to fight in champion mode, armed and equipped by his valet, Alcimus, and driven by his charioteer, Automedon. Achilles has delegated command of his Myrmidon troops equally among five battlefield lieutenants: Menesthius, Eudorus, Peisander, Phoenix, and Alcimedon.
  Unlike most of the Achaean commanders, Achilles was not one of Helen’s suitors, and so is not bound by the Oath of Tyndareus. He and all of the troops pledged to him are free to leave at any time.
 

Notable Appearances


 

Rage

Achilles is a major character who drives the plot by speaking truth to power
 

Amazons at Troy


  2. "The Life That's Been Erased" in Amazons!
Achilles first post-Iliad appearance in which he laments the loss of his closest friend.
  3. "Far From the Best" in Amazons!
Achilles receives an embassy of worried allies sent by Agamemnon.
  4. "Be Like Thersites" in Amazons!
A contrast between Achilles as the Best of the Achaeans with Thersites, who is . . . not.
  5. "Once" in Amazons!
A recap of the complicated love life of a short-lived hero.
  6. "No Man Touches Her" in Amazons!
In a flashback from the perspective of Iphis, we see Achilles conquering her home city.
  9. "The Embassy at the Tomb" in Amazons!
Achilles receives the best pitch Odysseus has to make for returning to war.
  10. "Brothers" in Amazons!
Podarces makes an appeal to Achilles, drawing comparisons between Achilles’s sadness over the loss of his companion to Podarces’s own loss of his elder brother.
  12. "Home" in Amazons!
Ajax resolves to stay with Achilles for as long as it takes for him to be ready to return.
  26. "The Dream of Achilles" in Amazons!
Achilles talks to his mother, Thetis. The conversation goes about as well as you’d expect from a parent-child argument where one of the participants is a god.
 
Death by arrow, perhaps in the heel (or not), shot by Paris (or maybe by Apollo himself). Although dead, Achilles’s legacy is felt throughout the remainder of the Posthomerica, and his spirit must be mollified with a human sacrifice in the last chapter before the Achaeans are allowed to leave the Troad plain.
  In Homer’s Odyssey, the ghost of Achilles makes a final appearance when Odysseus visits the Underworld. Famously, Achilles wishes that he could be alive again.

 

Trivia


  When in hiding as an Amazon on Skyros, Achilles went by the name Pyrrha, or “flame-haired girl.” His son, Neoptolemus, sometimes went by the masculine version, Pyrrhus.
 
Mythology of Origin
Greek/Roman
Home Realm
Hellas
Greek Name
Ἀχιλλεύς (grief of the people)
Parents


Cover image: "Jupiter Pluvius" (1819) by Joseph Gandy (1771-1843)

Comments

Author's Notes

Sage gfishbone

Greg R. Fishbone
       
Greg R. Fishbone, Author in Residence at Mythoversal, is the former publisher of Mythic Heroes magazine and author of fantasy and sci-fi books for young readers. He is currently presenting disrupted retellings of the Iliad and Posthomerica, and the upcoming serial, Becoming Hercules, fiction set in Mythoversal Thebes.

 
  Achilles is a divisive character. From his portrayal in Homer's Iliad, some people think of him as a bit of a whiner, chide him for withdrawing from the battle, and blame him for the avoidable deaths caused in his absence. Personally, I like Achilles, and hope to give him a more rounded portrayal in the Posthomerica than just the few weeks we see in the Iliad.   How do you think I did in developing this character? Let me know in the comments!


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