The Concept of the Death of Achilles

Different pieces of evidence have been put forward, which have been written in several periods to explain the death of Achilles. The following sources provide the information about the death of Achilles. Clear testimony that Achilles died from a wound to a particularly weak location is late. The sources for the explanation of his immersing in the Styx normally mention that Achilles death was caused by the struck by an arrow in his lower limb. At first part, earlier accounts of the wounding of the Achilles portrays such a death.

Proclus’ summary of the Aethiopis did not show the part Achilles was wounded, but Apollodorus, who evidently used this narrative as a source, declares that Achilles was hit in the ankle. It is likely, therefore, that in the Aethiopis, Achille got a mortal wound in his ankle.

The narrative in which Achilles was wounded on his ankle was present in the Archaic age, and maybe it came from the pre-Homeric tradition (Hedreen 309-321).

This, therefore, implies that the concept of Achilles’ imperfect invulnerability was identified in Homer, or even to archaic age. That question depends on whether the ankle wound can be able to get along with this concept. Therefore, there is need to examine the part of Achilles vulnerable spot. Numerous Roman literary sources for Styx-dipping cannot state the point Achilles remained weak.

Both Fulgentious and Hyginus refer the ankle as specific weak spot. These depictions, however, are not clear to provide a reliable evidence but they can get along well with the literary sources that state the ankle or foot as a weak location.

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According to the tradition of the immersing of Achilles in the Styx, either the Thetis does not put her hand in the river anymore or the ankle is sealed by her hand and all of the foot remain vulnerable (Slatkin 225-231). Some literary sources that talk about the weak spot, like the part where Achilles was held, tend to propose complete immersion.

Other explanations in the art are as well directly related to this event. From the early seventh century, Proto-Corinthian lekythos shows a scene of Achilles being struck. This scene is unremarkable, but the arrow is of big size. Therefore, it is considered significant. This scene is thought to be heroic; people’s opinions are divided, however, on whether it is of Achilles and Paris wounding each other or Diomedes and Paris. If it is Paris shooting Achilles, then it is a challenge whether the part of the wound coincide with the tradition of his immersing in the Styx.

In the late sixteen century, the Etruscan black-figure amphora tries to portray Paris about to fire Achilles from his back as he pursues another soldier. Maybe Paris could aim the lower location of Achilles front limb that could be in compliance with the tradition of his immersing in the Styx. The wound would be too high to be by the Styx dipping if Paris would point the arrow behind the Achilles’ leg as most commentators suggest.

An interpretation from the Attic red-figure pelike by the Niobid Painter in the fifth century B.C.E. reveals an arrow is falling downwards to the lower location of Achilles standing on the right. It has been shot in Paris on the left and is clearly guided by Apollo in the middle. This representation might explain the wounding of Achilles in an unusually vulnerable body part. Paris has also strung another arrow hence, ready to shoot it. This may, therefore, imply that the Achilles will have a second wound because there is another arrow wound on the Chalcidian vase.

This vase gives further evidence which a lower wound provided important information about the story of Achilles. Numerous Italic and Etruscan gems from the Hellenistic period reveal a single warrior, thought to be Achilles, kneeling on the ground. Often an arrow stuck in Achilles’ heel is shown in the front or back of his ankle or his foot but no wound is shown. The common schema of Ajax is also depicted by the Hellenistic gems which carry the corpse of Achilles; at some point, these represent an arrow stuck on the foot, heel and the ankle of the Achilles. Robert was not able to determine whether those gems showed the wounding of Achilles’ particularly vulnerable spot, the idea he believed in the Hellenistic period, or a previous story in which there was no invulnerability and maybe the adequate information is not given to achieve a strong conclusion.

But however, when Achilles is represented in a kneeling position, he comes preferably casually to pull the arrow out. However, this could not indicate that he received an aggravating wound or a fatal one. People would imagine that death through a specific weak location would be fast and overpowering. The inadequate intensity in the schema implies that Achilles is not perishing but rather fatally distracted and hence, vulnerable to a second and mortal wound.

In the Roman art, the concept of the Achilles was also known. Close observation of the evidence is required instead following ancient traditions in which invulnerability was not present. A warrior, who is undoubtedly Achilles, is shown by a Silver jug from the old kingdom, is kneeling in the similar schema revealed on the Hellenistic gems. The warriors battle around the Achilles, an arrow is stuck in his heel, and the background is the walls of Troy. Achilles is reaching for the arrow as he does in the Hellenistic gems, that also shows that the wound is not lethal. Two figures who have been thought to be Paris and Apollo, both of them equipped with arrow and bow, are shown on a fragment wall painting from the first century C.E.

This may represent the late version of Achilles’ death because the figures are static and there is also an indication of a structure in the scene in which he is ambushed in the temple of Thymbraean Apollo. The story is depicted in two reliefs from the third century C.E. Tensa Capitolina, a bronze paneling on a chariot, shows some scenes from the life of Achilles, involving one thought to represent Paris directing an arrow at Achilles as Apollo directs to his lower limb. The unarmored Achilles is not noticing the danger at the back when he stands before an altar. Achilles’ marriage is narrated to Polyxena and subsequent death by the relieve scenes on a sarcophagus. Achilles is shown in one scene struck in the foot by an arrow, without armor. He is seen to be holding one hand to his head, swooning and a friend supports him. An image that must be Paris importantly points toward the wound.

In conclusion, the idea of Achilles’ imperfect incapability is perceived as the presupposed by the two Roman activities just explained. It could be impossible to tell the reason Paris would shoot an undoubting and unarmored Achilles in his lower limb otherwise, and specifically the tradition of the immersing of Achilles in the Styx was identified during this period of these artifacts. Absolutely a wound to Achilles’ in lower limb is obvious. In addition, there is many wounds on the Roman bronze ban and on the Chalcidian vase.

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The Concept of the Death of Achilles. (2023, Feb 15). Retrieved from

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