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ACHILLES - AKHILLÉFS - ΑΧΙΛΛΕΥΣ
The Wrath of Akhilléfs by François-Léon Benouville. Foto: Public Domain per File:Leon Benouville The Wrath of Achilles.jpg
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The parents of Akhilléfs


Piléfs (Peleus; Gr. Πηλεύς) was the king of the Myrmidónæs (Myrmidons; Gr. Μυρμιδόνες). His wife was the sea-nymph Thǽtis (Thetis; Gr. Θέτις), who was the daughter of Niréfs (Nereus; Gr. Νηρεύς) and Dohrís (Doris; Gr. Δωρίς)Akhilléfs (Achilles; Gr. χιλλεύς, ΑΧΙΛΛΕΥΣ) was the son of Piléfs and Thǽtis and a great hero of the Trojan war. 



Akhilléfs in the Vivliothíki (Bibliotheca; Gr. Βιβλιοθήκη) of Apollódoros (Apollodorus; Gr. Ἀπολλόδωρος) [1]

  

Zefs (Zeus; Gr. Ζεύς) was given a prophecy by Promithéfs (Prometheus; Gr. Προμηθεύς) that should he marry the sea-nymph Thǽtis (Thetis; Gr. Θέτις), she would bear him a son who would be the lord of the heavens. This prophecy was in harmony with a similar oracle from the Goddess Thǽmis (Themis; Gr. Θέμις) stating that a son born from the union of Zefs and Thǽtis would yield a son greater than the father. Therefore, Zefs withdrew his amorous pursuit of Thǽtis and, conspiring with another rival, Poseidóhn (Poseidon; Gr. Ποσειδῶν), wed her to the mortal Piléfs, to whom she bore a son. Originally, this son of Piléfs and Thǽtis was named Liyírohn (Ligyron; Gr. Λιγύρων).

Unbeknownst to Piléfs, Thǽtis desired to make her child deathless, and to accomplish this task, she hid Liyírohn in the fire at night to destroy the part of him which was mortal and she anointed him in the daytime with amvrosía (ambrosia; Gr. ἀμβροσία), the beverage of the Gods which bestowed immortality. When Piléfs discovered Liyírohn burning in the fire, he cried out in horror. Thǽtis was frightened by Piléfs' reaction and offended by her husband's distrust. She fled back to the Niriídæs (Nereids; Gr. Νηρηΐδες) with the job unfinished. Piléfs then put the child in the care of the Kǽntavros (Centaur; Gr. Κένταυρος) Kheirohn (Chiron; Gr. Χείρων) who re-named the boy Akhilléfs (Achilles; Gr. Ἀχιλλεύς).

The name Akhilléfs may have some bearing on the nature and root of his purpose and journey. The suggested etymology of the name is ákhos (Gr. ἄχος) meaning "grief" + laós (Gr. λαός and λᾶος). The word λαός refers to "the people" and it is logical to assume that it may have some association to the similarly spelled word λᾶος, which means "rock." There is a relation between the two words because of the story of Defkalíohn (Deucalion; Gr. Δευκαλίων) and Pýrra (Gr. Πύρρα). These two were the only survivors of the great flood. Now alone in the world, they prayed to  Zefs (Zeus; Gr. Ζεύς) Zefs (Zeus; Gr. Ζεύς) that he might grant them more companionship. Zefs commanded them to walk and throw stones (λᾶος) behind them. They did so and the stones transformed into people. So using this etymology, the name Akhilléfs means "the grief of the people."

By the time Akhilléfs was a young man, the war against Tría (Troy) had commenced. Kálkhas (Calchas; Gr. Κάλχας), the seer of Árgos (Gr. Ἄργος), foretold that victory could not be achieved without his participation. The Greeks sent Odysséfs (Odysseus or Ulysses; Gr. Ὀδυσσεύς) the king of Itháki (Ithaca; Gr. Ἰθάκη), in search of the youth. Odysséfs was renowned for his cleverness, for Thǽtis, the mother of the boy, being divine and having some knowledge of the future, realized that her son would perish if he were to participate in the war, so the Goddess disguised beautiful Akhilléfs in the apparel of a young maiden and entrusted him to Lykomídis (Lycomedes; Gr. Λυκομήδης) the king of the island of Skýros (Scyros; Gr. Σκύρος). While at court, Akhilléfs had an affair with Diïdámeia (Deidamia; Gr. Δηιδάμεια), one of the daughters of the king. She bore him a son who was at first called Pýrros (Pyrrhus; Gr. Πύρρος) but later known as Næoptólæmos (Neoptolemus; Gr. Νεοπτόλεμος). When Odysséfs came searching for the Akhilléfs, he could not find him, only young maidens, but the secret of Akhilléfs' disguise was revealed by the lad's reaction to the blast of a trumpet. The true identity of Akhilléfs was now revealed and he was persuaded to join the campaign and go to Tría to fight along with the other heroes.

Akhilléfs now departed from the island, accompanied by Pátroklos (Patroclus; Gr. Πάτροκλος), who may have been his cousin:

"It should be observed that the ancient narrative hands down the account that Patroclus was even a kinsman of Achilles; for Hesiod says that Menoetius (ed. Mænoítios; Gr. Μενοίτιος) the father of Patroclus, was a brother of Peleus (ed. Piléfs), so that in that case they were first cousins." [2]

In any case, Pátroklos was the favorite of Akhilléfs and likely his lover [3]. They departed to join the Greeks along with fifty ships and their accompanying troops. [4]


Akhilléfs in the Iliás

Akhilléfs is the central figure of the Iliás (Iliad; Gr. λιάς), the great epic tale of deifications by Ómiros (Homer; Gr. μηρος), the most famous bard of the ancient Greeks. The story of the Iliás begins in the tenth year of the war against Tría (Troy; Gr. Τροία. Tria = Ílion [Gr. λιον] = Ílios [Gr. λιος]).

T
he Iliás opens with the anger of Akhilléfs, cheated of his battle-prize, the girl Vriséfs (Briseus; Gr. Βρισεύς). The particulars of how Akhilléfs was cheated of this girl is as follows. There was a priest of Apóllohn (Apollo; Gr. Ἀπόλλων) amongst the Trojans by the name of Khrýsis (Chryses; Gr. Χρύσης). This priest had a daughter named Khrysiís (Chryseis; Gr. Χρυσηΐς, her name very
similar to the father).
This girl was captured and given as a battle-prize to the leader of the Akhaií (Achaeans; Gr. Ἀχαιοί. i.e. the Greeks), king 
Agamǽmnohn (Agamemnon; Gr. Ἀγαμέμνων). The priest, enraged at the loss of his daughter, brought on the wrath of Apóllohn in the form of a plague. Akhilléfs told the Akhaií that Agamǽmnohn must return the girl to her father if the plague was to end. This suggestion infuriated Agamǽmnohn. He returned the girl to the priest, but in revenge Agamǽmnohn seized Vriséfs, Akhilléfs battle-prize, for himself. Akhilléfs was the greatest warrior of the Akhaií. He was now outraged at this action of Agamǽmnohn and withdrew from battle.


Akhilléfs and Nǽstohr by Amable-Paul Coutan. Foto credit: VladoubidoOo Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Without Akhilléfs, the Trojans now began to win battle after battle against the Greeks and they soon approached their ships. This was a great danger which threatened total destruction to the Greeks. At this point, Pátroklos beseeched Akhilléfs to intercede, but Akhilléfs refused to participate in the fighting. Nonetheless, after much pleading from his beloved Pátroklos, Akhilléfs allowed him to fight and gave him permission to wear his armor. Thus Pátroklos led the Myrmidónæs (Myrmidons; Gr. Μυρμιδόνες) into battle. Akhilléfs commanded Pátroklos to avoid a confrontation with Ǽktohr (Hector; Gr. κτωρ), the son of King Príamos (Priam; Gr. Πρίαμος) of Troy. Ǽktohr was the mightiest warrior of the Trojans. Pátroklos was to abandon the battle once the ships of the Akhaií were safe. He now entered the battleground wearing the armor of Akhilléfs and after scoring many victories, killed Sarpidóhn (Sarpedon; Gr. Σαρπηδών), a great hero of the Trojans and a son of Zefs. This aroused the fury of Ǽktohr who now sought revenge, but Pátroklos, over-confident from his victories, forgot his promise to Akhilléfs. He now accepted this challenge and in the ensuing contest was defeated and killed by Ǽktohr. 

The Armor of Akhilléfs and the Slaying of Ǽktohr

The death of Pátroklos drew Akhilléfs back into the battle, but his armor had been lost to Ǽktohr. Thǽtis, the mother of Akhilléfs, sought out Íphaistos the great God of Form and divine metal-smith. She requested that he construct new armor for her son. [5] Akhilléfs, now adorned with the magnificent armor fashioned for him by the God, slew Ǽktohr and dragged his body around the city with his chariot.





For twelve days 
Akhilléfs desecrated the body of Ǽktohr, but his anger subsided when King Príamos stole into his camp in the dark of night, led by Ǽrmis (Hermes; Gr. Ἑρμῆς), and begged for the body of his son, which had been miraculously preserved from corruption by the Gods. In the dialogue which followed, the two men wept and Akhilléfs returned the corpse of Ǽktohr to Príamos.


The Deification of Akhilléfs

The Iliás closes before both the conquest of Tría (Troy) and the death of Akhilléfs. The events that followed are enumerated in various sources including the Aithiopís (Aethiopis; Gr. Αἰθιοπίς) possibly written by Arktínos Milísios (Arctinus of Miletus; Gr. Ἀρκτῖνος Μιλήσιος), an epic poem which has been lost but some of its content is known. There was also the Iliás mikpá (Little Iliad; Gr. Ἰλιὰς μικρά) of Lǽskhæohs (Lesches; Gr. Λέσχεως), another lost work. The version of the story we are using is from the late 4th century author Kóïntos Smyrnaios (Quintus Smyrnaeus; Gr. Κόϊντος Σμυρναῖος) in his epic poem Post-Homerica (Gr. τα μετά τον Όμηρο).

As the war continued, Mǽmnohn (Memnon; Gr. Mέμνων) of Aithiopía (Ethiopia; Gr. Αἰθιοπία, not the same geographical area as modern Ethiopia) came to the defense of Tría. This king killed Antílokhos (Antilochus; Gr. Ἀντίλοχος), the son of Nǽstohr (Nestor; Gr. Νέστωρ) and a close friend to Akhilléfs. Thus drawn again into the battle, Akhilléfs slew Mǽmnohn. [6] 

Akhilléfs fought furiously to the very gates of Tría and Apóllohn (Apollo; Gr. Ἀπόλλων), observing the carnage from on high, descended into the fighting to intercede:

"Down from Olympus with a lion-leap 

He came: his quiver on his shoulders lay, 

And shafts that deal the wounds incurable. 

Facing Achilles stood he; round him clashed 

Quiver and arrows; blazed with quenchless flame

His eyes, and shook the earth beneath his feet." [7]

Phívos (Phoebus; Gr. Φοίβος) Apóllohn (Apollo; Gr. Ἀπόλλων) then told Akhilléfs to cease his slaughter, but Akhilléfs, with the Fates hovering around him, refused. The God turned his back:

"From mortal sight he vanished into cloud, 
And cloaked with mist a baleful shaft he shot
Which leapt to Achilles' ankle." [8]

There are other versions of the death of Akhilléfs, most famously from an arrow by Páris (Gr. Πάρις) guided by Apóllohn. [9]

Akhilléfs was at the Eighth Íkos (Oikos = House; Gr. Οἶκος), that of Aphrodíti, like all the heroes, those who are demi-Gods and soon to be deified. Now Akhilléfs is being killed with an arrow to the mortal part of his body, the heel. As we are taught in Hellenic mythology, when a God kills, he deifies.

"It is said that after death Achilles consorts with Medea in the Isles of the Blest." [10]

After the death of Akhilléfs the Greeks gave him a glorious funeral and games were held. [11] His mother, the Goddess Thǽtis bestowed prizes and then offered his magnificent armor to the mightiest of the Argives. Idomænéfs (Idomeneus; Gr. Ἰδομενεύς), Nǽstohr, and Agamǽmnohn were to choose who would receive the prize, but they refused to judge. The various contenders made their plea and by consent the armor went to Odysséfs. [12]


Akhilliís, a trilogy of Aiskhýlos: Here is a link to purchase a reconstruction the famous triloyía (trilogy; Gr. τριλογία) by Aiskhýlos (Aeschylus; Gr. Αἰσχύλος), the Akhilliís (Achilleis; Gr. Ἀχιλληΐς). This trilogy was renowned in antiquity and comes down to us in fragments. Mr. Elias Malandris has assembled the fragments together with other antique source material to reconstruct the story of the love between Akhilléfs (Achilles; Gr. Ἀχιλλεύς) and Pátroklos (Patroclus; Gr. Πάτροκλος):

The Akhilliís of Aiskhýlos - A Reconstruction of the Lost Trilogy by Elias Malandris


We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology.
Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.
Introduction to the Thæí (the Gods): The Nature of the Gods.


NOTES:

[1] Source: Ἀπολλόδωρος Βιβλιοθήκη Vivliothíki Book 3.XIII.6-8.

[2] Ἡσίοδος Γυναικῶν Κατάλογος (Catalog of Women) 61, trans. Hugh G. Evelyn-White, 1914. We are using the 1936 edition entitled Hesiod: The Homeric Hymns and Homerica, published by Harvard Univ. Press (Cambridge MA USA) and William Heinemann LTD (London England), Loeb Classical Library, where this quotation can be found on pp. 187-189.

[3] While in Ómiros (Homer; Gr. Ὅμηρος) we find no mention of a romantic attachment between Akhilléfs and Pátroklos, such a relationship is found in other ancient authors. In the speech of Phaidros (Phaedrus; Gr. Φαῖδρος) in Πλάτων Συμπόσιον we find this paragraph:

"Very different was the reward of the true love of Achilles towards his lover Patroclus---his lover and not his love (the notion that Patroclus was the beloved one is a foolish error into which Aeschylus has fallen, for Achilles was surely the fairer of the two, fairer also than all the other heroes; and, as Homer informs us, he was still beardless, and younger far). And greatly as the Gods honour the virtue of love, still the return of love on the part of the beloved to the lover is more admired and valued and rewarded by them, for the lover is more divine; because he is inspired by God. Now Achilles was quite aware, for he had been told by his mother, that he might avoid death and return home, and live to a good old age, if he abstained from slaying Hector. Nevertheless he gave his life to revenge his friend, and dared to die, not only in his defence, but after he was dead. Wherefore the Gods honoured him even above Alcestis, and sent him to the Islands of the Blest." 

(Πλάτων Συμπόσιον 179e-180b, trans. by Benjamin Jowett, 1892, in Vol. 1 of the 1937 Random House (New York, USA) edition of The Dialogues of Plato, p. 308.)

The above reference to Aiskhýlos (Aeschylus; Gr. Αἰσχύλος) in Sympósiun concerns his lost work, the Akhilliís (Achilleis; Gr. Ἀχιλληΐς), where we find these fragments from the first play of the trilogy, the Myrmidónæs (Myrmidons; Gr. Μυρμιδόνες), after the death of Pátroklos:

 

"No reverence had you for the unsullied holiness of your limbs,
O you most ungrateful for my many kisses!
I mourn the devout union of our thighs
And yet --- because of our friendship --- they are not repulsive to my sight." 

(Αἰσχύλος Ἀχιλληΐς Μυρμιδόνες by Elias Malandris [2003], English trans. Irene Maradei [2008], as found in Aeschylus Achilleis: A Reconstruction of the Lost Trilogy, Athens 2003, p. 59)

[4] "fifty ships" Ὅμηρος Ἰλιάς Book 2.685.

[5] Ὅμηρος Ἰλιάς Book 18:475-617. The Armor of Akhilléfs is one of the Mystíria (Mysteries; Gr. Μυστήρια).

[6] Κόϊντος Σμυρναῖος (Quintus Smyrnaeus) τα μετά τον Όμηρο (Post-Homerica) Book II.388-548.

[7] Κόϊντος Σμυρναῖος τα μετά τον Όμηρο Book III.32-37, translated by A. S. Way, 1913 in the book entitled Quintus Smyrnaeus: The Fall of Troy. We are using the 2000 edition published by Harvard Univ. Press (Cambridge MA and London England), Loeb (LCL 19), where this quotation can be found on p. 119.

8] Ibid. A. S. Way, Posthomerica Book III.60-63, p. 121.

[9] Ἀπολλόδωρος Βιβλιοθήκη Epitome v. 3:

"Having chased the Trojans also, Achilles was shot with an arrow in the ankle by Alexander (ed. Pátroklos) and Apollo at the Scaean gate." 

(trans. Sir J. G. Frazer, 1921. We are using the 1989 edition entitled Apollodorus: The Library, Vol. II, published by Harvard (Cambridge MA USA) and William Heinemann LTD (London, England UK), Loeb Classical Library 122, where this quotation can be found on pp. 213-215)

[10] Ἀπολλόδωρος Βιβλιοθήκη Epitome v. 5. Ibid. Frazer p. 217.

[11] Κόϊντος Σμυρναῖος τα μετά τον Όμηρο  Book IV.62-595. 

[12] Κόϊντος Σμυρναῖος τα μετά τον Όμηρο  Book V1-321.


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Pætilía (Petelia; Gr. Πετηλία) and other golden tablets having this phrase are the inspiration for the symbol. The image represents this idea: Earth (divisible substance) and the Sky (continuous substance) are the two kozmogonic substances. The twelve stars represent the Natural Laws, the dominions of the Olympian Gods. In front of these symbols is the seven-stringed kithára (cithara; Gr. κιθάρα), the lyre of Apóllohn (Apollo; Gr. Ἀπόλλων). It (here) represents the bond between Gods and mortals and is representative that we are the children of Orphéfs (Orpheus; Gr. Ὀρφεύς). 


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The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony.
We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology
Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

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