Notebook, 1993--


[From: Kyriazis, Constantine D. Eternal Greece. Translated by Harry T. Hionides. A Chat Publication.]

Demigods and Heros - Achilles - Aegisthus - Agamemnon - Ajax the Locrian - Ajax the Telamonian - Alcestis - Amphiaraos - Amphitrite - Antigone - Atalanta - Belerophon - Cadmus - Clytemnestra - Daedalus - Danae - Dioscuri - Electra - Europa - Eurydice - Ganymede - Hector - Hecuba - Helen - Heracles - Hippolytus - Icarus - Io - Iphigenia - Jason - Leda - Menelaus - Minos - Nestor - Niobe - Odysseus - Oedipus - Orestes - Medea - Orpheus - Paris - Pasiphae - Pelops - Penelope - Perseus - Phaedra - Phaethon - Phrixus - Priam - Telemachus - Theseus - Triptolemus


The most celebrated of the Greek heroes in the Trojan War, of whose rage Homer sings in the Iliad, and about which, in essence, the epic deals. The myths and legends surrounding him are without number, and it can at once be said that his reputation has grown through the years to become ever more heroic. Son of the nereid Thetis and Peleus, the king of Phthia, he was raised by the wise centaur Chiron. Since Thetis knew he was destined to die at Troy, she tried to dissuade him from joining the Achaeans [Greeks] on the expedition, and she later hid him, disguised as a girl, at the court of Lycomedes king of Scyros where he lived with that king's daughters. But he was discovered by the wily Odysseus who set arms before him, for Achilles betrayed himself by the fondness with which he handled them, and Odysseus finally accompanied him to Troy. Thetis had made him immortal by plunging him into the Styx and gave him invulnerability except in the heel by which she had held him. The number of his love affairs was legend, and among the women with whom he had associations were Hemithea, sister of the king of Tenedos, Pedesa, who was instrumental in his capture of Monenia, Peisidice who was responsible for his victory at Methymna, the Amazon Pentheseleia with whom he fell in love after having slain her according to one version, while another variation relates that she had become his mistress and gave him a son by name Caystrus. But the son of Achilles who appears in all the legends was Pyrrhus or Neoptolemus whose mother was Deidameia, one of the daughters of king Lycomedes with whom Achilles stayed when in Scyros. In the Iliad, Achilles is presented in a rage over the spoils which include Briseis who had been awarded to Agamemnon and for which reason Achilles sulked in his tent. He took up arms once again after his bosom companion Patroclus was slain by Hector, and avenged his death by killing the Trojan hero. Achilles himself was killed by an arrow shot by Apollo into his heel before the shadowy Gates of Troy, or according to another story, by Paris whose arrow was directed by Apollo. There is yet another legend relating that Achilles had fallen in love with Polyxene, one of the daughters of Priam, and his love was indeed so great that he proposed marriage and peace and even an alliance with her father. But before this materialized, he was slain. Homer makes Achilles his central hero whom he credits with the highest and most noble attributes. Achilles sought fame and glory and when he was summoned by the gods to choose between a long and peaceful life and a brief but glorious one, he unhesitatingly selected the latter, thus enhancing even further the nobility of his character and rousing the admiration of all, an admiration among his loyal followers that led eventually to his worship as a divinity in certain parts of Greece and the Black Sea which overlooked his faults such as conceit, his hot-headedness and the extreme impetuosity of his character. His outstanding sanctuary [p. 57] was in the island of Leuce where the hero was translated by his mother Thetis. His temple was a vast structure, containing many altars, a statue and a grave. Guardians of the island which was uninhabited except for the goats that his worshippers had brought to the island were, in accordance with the legend, the seabirds which wet their wings in the sea roundabout and swept the temple clean. He was also worshipped in one of the Sporades islands, in Achilleion near Samos, in Thessaly, Epirus, and in Sparta where the young men [ephebes] before participating in the running events would pray at his temple which always had its portals closed. Achilles was a favourite theme of artists and sculptors such as Lycius and Scopas who carved statues of him. The vase painters also decorated their pottery with portrayals of scenes from the life and the death of Achilles. [pp. 57-58]

[Kyriazis, Constantine D. Eternal Greece. Translated by Harry T. Hionides. A Chat Publication.]



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