Born: c. 1250 B.C.
Died: c. 1200 B.C.
Birthplace: Thessaly, Greece
Best known as: Greek warrior at the center of Homer's Iliad
In Greek mythology, Achilles was the greatest hero of the Trojan War and the central character of Homer's epic poem Iliad. Although completely reliable evidence is absent, most scholars date the Trojan War to the 12th or 13th century before Christ, and Homer's epic to the 7th or 8th century B.C. Achilles is also mentioned in fragments of other ancient poems, but it is uncertain if he was a real guy or merely a symbolic depiction of heroic ideals. The story goes that Achilles was the son of the sea-nymph Thetis and the mortal Peleus, king of the Myrmidons in Thessaly. Achilles joined the Greek armies at Troy and became famous for his prowess on the battlefield. Homer's Iliad spotlights the uncommon wrath of Achilles, first toward the Greek king Agamemnon, then toward Hector of Troy. A later addition is the familiar tale of Achilles' heel: Thetis tried to make her young son immortal by dipping him in the river Styx, but where she held his heel remained dry and became the vulnerable spot where Achilles ultimately received his death-wound (at the hands of Hector's brother, Paris, who had help from the god Apollo).
Extra credit: Because he's mythological, there is no precise birthdate or birthplace... Another version of the heel story has it that Thetis was trying to make baby Achilles immortal by anointing him with ambrosia and sticking him in the fire, but she got interrupted before the job was complete... The special armor made for Achilles by the god Hephaestus was given to Odysseus after Achilles was killed... In the 2004 movie Troy, Achilles is played by Brad Pitt, Hector is played by Eric Bana and Paris is played by Orlando Bloom.
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