Can you explain the tale of Achilles’ vulnerable spot?

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By Kristy Tolley

The story of Achilles and his vulnerability is one of the most famous tales of Greek mythology. It has been told and retold over the centuries, inspiring countless works of art and literature. At its heart is the tragic figure of Achilles, a mighty warrior whose strength was only matched by his fatal weakness.

The Trojan War

To understand the story of Achilles, we must first look at the Trojan War. This was a long and brutal conflict between the Greeks and the Trojans, fought over the city of Troy. According to legend, the war was sparked by the abduction of Helen, the wife of Menelaus, by the Trojan prince Paris. In retaliation, the Greeks sailed across the Aegean Sea to attack Troy, and the war began.

The Birth of Achilles

Achilles was the son of Peleus, a mortal king, and Thetis, a sea goddess. According to legend, Thetis tried to make Achilles immortal by dipping him in the waters of the River Styx. However, she held him by his heel, which remained vulnerable. This is said to be the origin of Achilles’ weakness.

The Prophecy

When Achilles was born, his mother Thetis received a prophecy that he would either live a long life in obscurity or die young but become a great hero. Thetis was determined to protect her son, so she sent him to live with the centaur Chiron, who trained him in the ways of warfare.

The Achilles’ Heel

Despite his training and prowess as a warrior, Achilles had one fatal weakness: his heel. Because his mother had held him by his heel when she dipped him in the River Styx, it remained vulnerable. According to legend, this was the only spot on his body where he could be wounded.

The Battle of Troy

Achilles played a key role in the Trojan War, leading the Greek army to many victories. However, he became enraged when his friend Patroclus was killed by the Trojan prince Hector. In a fit of rage, Achilles charged into battle and killed Hector, dragging his body around the walls of Troy.

The Death of Achilles

Despite his many victories, Achilles was eventually killed by a poisoned arrow that struck him in the heel. The arrow was shot by Paris, who had been guided by the god Apollo. According to legend, this was the fulfillment of the prophecy that Thetis had received when Achilles was born.

The Legacy of Achilles

Despite his tragic end, Achilles remains a legendary figure in Greek mythology. He is remembered for his bravery, his strength, and his fatal weakness. His story has inspired countless works of art and literature over the centuries, and he continues to be a popular subject in modern culture.

The Debate on the Vulnerable Spot

There has been much debate over the years about why Achilles was vulnerable in his heel. Some scholars believe that it was simply a literary device used by the ancient Greeks to add depth and tragedy to the story. Others argue that it may have been based on a real-life injury that the historical figure of Achilles may have suffered.

The Evolution of the Myth

Over the centuries, the story of Achilles has evolved and changed. Different cultures and writers have added their own interpretations and twists to the tale, and it has been adapted into many different forms. One of the most famous adaptations is the epic poem "The Iliad" by Homer, which tells the story of the Trojan War and Achilles’ role in it.

Modern Interpretations

In modern times, the story of Achilles has been interpreted in many different ways. Some see it as a cautionary tale about the dangers of pride and arrogance, while others view it as a symbol of the human condition and the struggle to overcome our weaknesses. There have also been many adaptations of the story in popular culture, from movies and TV shows to video games and comics.


The story of Achilles and his vulnerable heel is a timeless tale of heroism, tragedy, and human frailty. It has entertained and inspired people for centuries, and it continues to captivate audiences today. Whether seen as a cautionary tale or a symbol of our shared humanity, the story of Achilles remains a powerful and enduring myth.

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Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

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