who killed achilles

who killed achilles

Introduction

The story of Achilles, the greatest hero of the Trojan War, has captivated the imaginations of countless generations. Known for his invincibility, exceptional strength, and unmatched combat skills, Achilles was a central figure in Homer’s epic poem, the Iliad. However, despite his prowess, Achilles met a tragic end on the battlefield. The question that lingers is: Who killed Achilles?

Achilles: A Legendary Hero

Before we delve into the mystery of Achilles’ death, let’s first explore the legendary hero himself. Achilles, the son of Thetis, a sea nymph, and Peleus, a mortal king, was born in the city of Phthia. Raised by the centaur Chiron, he grew up to become a formidable warrior with divine ancestry. His exploits in battle earned him a reputation as an indomitable force, feared by both Greeks and Trojans alike.

The Trojan War

To understand the circumstances leading to Achilles’ demise, we must familiarize ourselves with the Trojan War. The war was sparked by the abduction of Helen, the wife of Menelaus, by Paris, a prince of Troy. The Greeks, seeking retribution, assembled a formidable fleet led by Agamemnon, the king of Mycenae. Achilles, among the Greek warriors, played a crucial role in the conflict.

The Death of Achilles

According to Homer’s account, Achilles met his end during the Trojan War. While fighting outside the walls of Troy, he was struck by an arrow that pierced his vulnerable heel, the only part of his body that was not invincible. The arrow was shot by Paris, guided by the god Apollo.

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The Controversial Theories

Numerous theories have emerged over the years, attempting to explain who truly killed Achilles. Let’s explore some of the most notable ones:

Theory 1: Paris and Apollo

This theory suggests that Achilles’ death resulted from a joint effort by Paris and Apollo. Paris, skilled with a bow and arrow, shot the fatal arrow, but Apollo guided it to Achilles’ vulnerable heel.

Theory 2: Paris and Deiphobus

An alternative theory proposes that it was not Apollo but Deiphobus, a Trojan prince and Paris’ ally, who played a role in Achilles’ demise. It suggests that Deiphobus engaged Achilles in combat and wounded him, weakening him for Paris to deliver the final blow.

Theory 3: Paris and Penthesilea

In this theory, Achilles’ killer is identified as Penthesilea, the Amazon queen who fought alongside the Trojans. Penthesilea, renowned for her skill in battle, engaged Achilles and managed to land a fatal blow.

Theory 4: Paris and Philoctetes

According to this theory, Paris enlisted the help of Philoctetes, a Greek hero who possessed the bow and arrows of Hercules. Paris convinced Philoctetes to shoot an arrow at Achilles, ultimately leading to his demise.

Theory 5: Paris and Apollo (Revisited)

This revised theory combines the involvement of Paris and Apollo. It suggests that while Paris shot the arrow, it was once again guided by Apollo, leading to Achilles’ fatal wound.

Theory 6: Apollo Alone

Lastly, this theory proposes that Apollo acted alone in killing Achilles. As the god of archery and prophecy, Apollo aimed an arrow at Achilles’ vulnerable heel, exploiting his only weakness.

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Evaluating the Theories

Determining the true account of Achilles’ death is challenging, as historical records from that time are scarce. Furthermore, the events surrounding his demise have been subject to poetic interpretation and embellishment over centuries. As such, evaluating the theories solely based on evidence becomes a daunting task. It is likely that the true answer to the question “Who killed Achilles?” will forever remain shrouded in the mists of mythology.

Conclusion

The death of Achilles remains an enigma, forever woven into the fabric of ancient Greek mythology. Despite the various theories and interpretations, the precise circumstances of his demise may never be definitively known. Nevertheless, the legend of Achilles endures, immortalizing him as a tragic hero who met his fate on the fields of Troy.


FAQs

Q1: Was Achilles truly invincible? A1: Achilles was invulnerable to most attacks due to being dipped into the River Styx as a baby. However, his heel, by which his mother held him, remained vulnerable.

Q2: Why did Paris target Achilles’ heel? A2: Paris, aware of Achilles’ invulnerability, targeted his heel—the only vulnerable spot—based on a prophecy.

Q3: Did Apollo actively participate in Achilles’ death? A3: According to various theories, Apollo either guided Paris’ arrow or shot it himself, playing a role in Achilles’ demise.

Q4: Are there any historical accounts of Achilles’ death? A4: Historical accounts of Achilles’ death are scarce, as the story primarily exists within the realm of mythology and epic poetry.

Q5: What is the significance of Achilles’ story today? A5: Achilles’ story continues to resonate as a tale of heroism, mortality, and the tragic consequences of human ambition.

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