Mythology Mondays: Achilles

Welcome to Mythology Mondays, where I highlight a different Greek myth or an aspect of mythology that has influenced the Turning Creek series. The first two books, Lightning in the Dark and Storm in the Mountains are out now.

Achilles is one of those Greek heroes that everyone knows something about because his name is used in conjunction with a cultural phrase, “to be an Achilles’ heel,” which means you are the weak link.

"Achilles in Corfu" by Dr.K. - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -
“Achilles in Corfu” by Dr.K.

Achilles was the son of Peleus and Thetis, a sea nymph. When Menelaus rallied Greece to help him recover Helen from Paris (the man not the city), Achilles was kept from the draft by his mother who disguised him as a girl and hid him in the court of Lycomedes. Odysseus, who also joined the war under duress, was sent to fetch the boy. Odysseus disguised himself as a peddler and took shiny trinkets for the ladies and an array of weapons. The ladies of the court flocked to the shiny things, as women do, and the boy Achilles fingered the weapons thus revealing his true gender.

You read that right. This plot was furthered by sexism: men can not keep from fondling their weapons and women can not resist sparkly things.

Achilles was eager for war, as all young men are, apparently, and went with Odysseus despite his mother’s prophetic predictions of his death.

Very brief is your lot. Would that you could be free now from tears and troubles, for you shall not long endure, my child, short-lived beyond all men and to be pitied. – Thetis to Achilles

The Trojan war waged for years, fueled by deceitful women and vengeful men. Achilles and Agememnon, who fought for the same side, entered into a vicious feud over the fate of two women. Thetis begged Zeus to put an end to the war, which was so fierce that even the gods were at odds with each other.

There are a few different versions of Achilles’ death, but they all have one thing in common. He was shot in his heel by an arrow which killed him while he was in Troy. Achilles was one of the Greek’s most famous and valiant warriors and we was worshiped by heroic cults. He is also revered in Corfu, Greece as the patron of platonic love.

In Turning Creek, Thomas, an orphan taken in by Iris, is the Remnant of Achilles. I took some license with the original Greek myth. In my version, Achilles was blessed with speed and strength. The seat of his power was in his heels and when he was shot by an arrow, he lost his power and was defeated. His Remnants often exhibit enhanced speed or strength.