ACHILLES (Illustration) Biographies Famous People Film History Geography Fiction Social Studies Legends and Legendary People Famous Historical Events

The François vase, named after Alessandro François (the person who found it in the Etruscan town of Chiusi in 1848), depicts many scenes from the life of Achilles. The main scene is the marriage between Achilles’ parents, Peleus and Thetis.  We know the name of the potter (Ergotimos) and the painter (Kleitias) because they identified themselves on the black-figure Volute Krater when they made it (around 570 BC). At 66 centimeters, it is 2.16 feet high. Today the great treasure, which illustrates many of Homer’s stories in the Iliad, is maintained at the Archaeological Museum in Florence, Italy. Image online via Wikimedia Commons.


Achilles, according to Greek mythology, was half-immortal (from his mother Thetis, an immortal sea-nymph) and half-mortal (from his mortal father Peleus, the King of Phthia, in Thessaly).

To make her child completely immortal, Thetis tried various things - like totally immersing her son into the water of the Styx, river of the Underworld. If the water totally covered her baby, Thetis believed he would live forever.

There was a slight problem, however. Thetis could not completely bathe her son in the water. To do so, she would have had to let go of him.

In the end, Achilles was protected by the river everywhere on his body except for the heel where his mother held him. Because of that vulnerable heel, which would prove to be her son’s undoing, Thetis failed in her efforts to insure her son would never die.

When Thetis could not make Achilles fully immortal, she was afraid for him and left the boy with Peleus, her husband. Achilles’ father then brought his young son to study with Chiron, the mythological father of Greek medicine. 

Chiron, an immortal Centaur (that is, half-man, half-horse), could teach the young lad much about life.  But even he could not protect the child from his potentially fatal Achilles' Heel.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: May 01, 2004

Updated Last Revision: Sep 05, 2019

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"ACHILLES" AwesomeStories.com. May 01, 2004. Feb 20, 2020.
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