Thetis - Greek mythology - Mother of Achilles

Thetis - Greek mythology - Mother of Achilles

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Thetis immerses Achilles in the Styx
Rubens, Museum of Rotterdam (Netherlands)

There are two Thetis in the Greek mythology:

THETIS, daughter of Uranus and Gaea, belonged to the family of the Titans and was the personification of the humidity of the water, dispenser of luxuriance and fecundity. Joining his brother Oceano he had many children including the nymphs Oceanine, Proteus, Nereus, Doride, as well as all the great rivers known in antiquity including the Nile;

TETI O TETIDE, daughter of Nereus and Doride, the most beautiful of the Nereids (nymphs) who married Peleus from whom she had one of the greatest heroes of antiquity, Achilles. Thetis is represented as a loving mother who, at birth, immersed her son Achilles in the Styx to make him invulnerable, except for the heel.


The most famous of the heroes

Son of the mortal Peleus - hence his nickname 'Pelìde' - and of the marine goddess Tethys, Achilles is the key hero of theIliad, where he leads the army of the Myrmidons, people of Thessaly. An invincible warrior, vulnerable only in the heel, he is as fierce in combat as he is capable of feelings of deep humanity.

A destiny marked by birth

According to the best known version of Greek mythology, as soon as he is born Achilles is immersed in the water of the infernal river Styx held by the heel by his mother Tethys, thus becoming invulnerable everywhere except in that part of the body. According to another version of the myth, however, Achilles is mortal because his father interrupts the magical operation of Tethys who tried to make him immortal by immersing him in fire. His education is entrusted to the wise Phoenix or, according to others, to the centaur Chiron: with him, on Mount Pelio, Achilles trains himself in hunting and fighting, learns to cultivate respect for gods and parents, is educated in music and in medicine. Tethys, knowing that if Achilles had gone to Troy he would have found his death there, hides him in Sciro, among the daughters of King Lycomedes. But Ulysses, learning of his presence on the island, brings rich robes to the daughters of Lycomedes, among which he also conceals a shield and a spear, and, while the girls admire the robes, he makes the trumpet of war sound: immediately Achilles leaps into the open and grabs the weapons, thus making himself recognized. Before leaving for Troy, Achilles leaves Deidamia, one of the king's daughters, in Sciro, who is expecting a child from him: the future Pyrrhus or Neoptolemus.

The terror of the Trojans

Achilles knows he is destined to be short-lived, but he faces the battle with absolute contempt for danger.

From the characteristic epithet of 'swift foot', he is the main hero of the Iliad, the most valiant of the Greeks, so much so that the mere appearance of his weapons leads the Trojans to flee. But after a quarrel with Agamemnon, who stole his slave Briseis from him, he retires to his tent and refrains from fighting, allowing the Trojans to prevail. Any attempt at reconciliation is in vain. Only when the Trojans arrive at the Greek ships and are about to burn them, does he yield to the request of his friend Patroclus to lend him weapons in order to drive back the enemies. Patroclus puts the Trojans to flight, but then, intoxicated by the success, he goes too far and falls victim to Hector. The death of his friend arouses tears and despair in Achilles, but also a strong desire for revenge. Once the anger ceases, he accepts the return of Briseis along with the rich gifts that Agamemnon offers him, and returns to battle with the new weapons that Hephaestus has forged for him. Hector confronts him with courage, but is killed and his corpse dragged mercilessly around the walls of Troy. Although so fierce and determined, Achilles nevertheless shows respect and compassion for Priam, Hector's father and king of Troy, when he comes to him at night, old and without escort, to offer him the ransom for the body of his son. In the pain of his elderly parent, Achilles sees prefigured the fate of suffering and loneliness that awaits old Peleus when he is dead, he is moved and returns Hector's corpse to Priam so that he can be buried.

The figure of Achilles outside theTHEliade

In theOdyssey the shadow of Achilles appears to Ulysses in Hades. Nothing remains in him of heroic ideals: "I would rather be the humble servant of a poor and disinherited master - is his painful confession - rather than reign over all the dead". Achilles is also at the center of other episodes of the myth connected with the events of Troy but not narrated by Homer. Among others, the killing of Penthesilea, queen of the Amazons, the beauty of whose corpse causes the hero to cry, and the sacrifice on her tomb of Polyxena, young daughter of Priam, required by the hero's shadow as a condition for the return of the Greeks to their homeland at the end of the war. After Homer, the poets imagined a privileged fate for Achilles in the afterlife: at the Isle of the Blessed or in Elysium. A heroic cult was dedicated to him on the island of Leuke, near the mouth of the Danube.

The clash between Achilles and Agamemnon

Agamemnon he had in fact kidnapped Chriseid, daughter of Chryses, priest of Apollo.

When Chryses came to Agamemnon's camp to ask him to return his daughter, enslaved by Agamemnon, the latter treated him badly and rejected him. This provoked the revenge of the god Apollo who caused a terrible pestilence to break out in the Greek camp.

Achilles suggested appeasing Apollo's wrath by returning Chriseis. Agamemnon declared himself willing to surrender, but demanded Briseis, Achilles' favorite slave, in exchange. A violent quarrel then broke out between the two heroes, due to the famous "Achilles' wrath".

Achilles eventually gave up his slave but, offended, declared that he no longer participated in the war, putting the Greeks in difficulty.

The events of the conflict were alternate, until Patroclus, a friend of Achilles, he did not get him to wear his weapons and go to the field in his place. Patroclus was killed by Hector.

Achilles, after having celebrated the funeral rite in honor of his companion, he decided to resume the fight and avenge the death of his friend.

In fact, he killed Hector, the strongest hero of the Trojan camp, but an arrow of Paris, led by the god Apollo, hit him in the only vulnerable point of his body, the heel.

Achilles' destiny was thus fulfilled as he had chosen: a short life and a death with weapons in hand on the battlefield.

Another great fighter, Ajax, sadly recovered his body.

Therefore, the myth warns, no one, not even a hero, can escape his destiny.

Son of Peleus (for this reason also called “Pelide”) and of the nymph Nereid Teti, Achilles is one of the most famous characters of Greek mythology, known above all for his speed and his anger. Achilles, in Greek Ἀχιλλεύς, was a hero who fought in the Trojan War, on the side of the besieging Achaeans. He is one of the richest and most complete characters of Greek mythology, being Achilles the protagonist of the Homeric epic Iliad and of many other minor cycles and legends, which contributed to giving Achilles an image of a strong, courageous, fearless hero. impetuous.

Peleus was king of Ftia, home of the fearsome Myrmidons. Zeus granted him to marry Thetis, since according to a prophecy made by Prometheus, if Zeus had united with Thetis, he would have generated a son who would have dethroned him.
So Achilles grew up with his parents and was educated by the wise centaur Chiron and his wife Caricio. As a child, as we find written in the poem Achilleide by Publius Papinius Stazio, his mother Thetis immersed her son in the waters of the River Styx, with the intention of making him invulnerable. And so it was, except for the heel, with which the nymph held him while immersing him, and which therefore did not touch the water.

However, it must be specified that in the previous sources Stazio, there is no mention of the demigod's invulnerability, indeed, in the Iliad Achilles is slightly injured by three different characters on different occasions. Later, Chiron instructed Achilles in the art of war, hunting, music and singing. However, the mother Thetis, when she learned from an oracle that Achilles would die if he fought under the walls of Troy, kept him hidden in the harem of the daughters of King Lycomedes, where he remained for part of his childhood, disguised as a girl. He was later unmasked by Odysseus and other Greek warriors, who, led by the soothsayer Calcante, found Achilles. He agreed to go to war and wore armor. Therefore Peleus and Teti had to resign themselves to the will and destiny of their son.

In the Iliad, Achilles participates in the war, until the leader of the expedition, Agamemnon, does him a wrong: he takes away the slave Briseis, whom Achilles held in the highest regard, being his war booty and personifying his valor and courage. demonstrated in battle. The semi-divine hero will return to war only after the killing of his partner Patroclus by the Trojan champion Hector. Obtained a new armor forged by the god Hephaestus, and after dismissing his mother Thetis, Achilles goes to the duel with Hector, which ends with the death of the Trojan. Achilles, furious and moved by a vengeful spirit, tied Hector's body to the chariot and wreaked havoc for nine days, dragging him behind the chariot around the walls of the city of Troy. Only after the intervention of Zeus and Priam, Ettore's father, did Achilles return the body to the Trojans to be given the necessary funeral honors and burial.

At this point the events of Achilles narrated in Homer's Iliad come to an end, however, of course, there are many other myths and legends that continue the cycle. We see Achilles killing and possessing the queen of the Amazons Penthesilea, and clashing in a duel with Memnon, king of Persia and Ethiopia. The legends concerning the death of Achilles are different: according to one he was killed by Paris, the kidnapper of Helen, with an arrow according to a second he was killed by the warrior of Licia Glauco, who pierced him, according to others it was a poisoned arrow shot by Paris , led by Apollo, to strike the hero in his weak point, the heel, and kill him.

Both Achilles' body and armor were disputed. As for the first, he was protected in battle, immediately after his death, by Ajax Telamon, and then carried away by Odysseus in his chariot. Instead, the weapons of Achilles were disputed between the two same heroes: after listening to the list of their virtues, the Achaeans chose to assign the weapons and armor of Achilles to Odysseus, for his cunning and cunning. As narrated in the myth and in the Sophoclean tragedy "Ajax", Ajax Telamonius, furious, cursed Odysseus and was driven mad by the goddess Athena. In the grip of madness, Ajax killed some sheep, which he had mistaken for his companions, and once he had come to his senses, now covered with shame, he threw himself on his sword killing himself. As for the depictions of the hero, they are many and varied: in some the hero is depicted as a young man, without a beard and with a placid gaze, in others we see a mature, muscular Achilles with a beard and an impetuous gaze.

Son of Adolf Burkert, a Bavarian Protestant pastor, and Louise Grossman, Walter Burkert lived in different German towns from time to time influenced by Catholic or Protestant culture, which allowed him to know the religious phenomenon from different perspectives.

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The death of Achilles

As predicted by Hector on the verge of death, Achilles was later killed by Paris with a poisoned dart in the right heel. According to other versions, Apollo guided the arrow thrown by Paris and, in still others, it is said that Achilles, while climbing the gates of Troy, was pierced by the poisoned arrow. According to several sources, when Achilles was shot to death, Glauco, a Lycia warrior who fought for the Trojans, tried to take possession of the body: he threw his spear at Ajax Telamon, who protected the body of Achilles, but it only succeeded. to scratch the shield. Ajax, in response, hurled his spear at him, killing him and keeping him away from the Trojans, allowing Odysseus to load Achilles onto the chariot and carry him away. In the Ethiopis of Arctino di Mileto, Achilles, after his death, is depicted as still alive on the island of the Serpents at the mouth of the Danube. Another version tells that Achilles fell in love with Polissena, princess of Troy, asking her to marry her father Priam, who was consenting. While Priam was busy preparing for the wedding, Paris, who would have had to give up Helen if Achilles had married his sister Polissena, hidden among the bushes, shot the arrow that would have put an end to the demigod and Achaean hero. Achilles was burned and his ashes were placed in the same urn that kept those of Patroclus and Antilochus, son of Nestor.

Video: Thetis And Achilles