achilles - Achilles; achilles - Greek hero, according to legend the son of Peleus and Thetis, and third in descent from Zeus. As king of the Myrmidons, he took part in the expedition against Troy, and in the Iliad, Homer makes him the leading figure on the Greek side; in fact a considerable part of the poem deals with the quarrel between him and Agamemnon (g.v.). By his mother Achilles was made invulnerable, the most popular version being that she did this by dipping him in the river Styx. In so doing she held him by the heel; consequently this was untouched by the water and hence originated the proverbial phrase about the heel of Achilles. Thetis further showed her anxiety for her son by disguising him as a girl and sending him to Scyros, in order that he should not sail to Troy: but Ulysses, visiting the place in the garb of a pedlar, discovered him. After Achilles tad reached Troy he performed redoubtable deeds against his foes. Then came his quarrel with Agamemnon. The latter, deprived of his favourite, the Greek girl Chryseis, took to himself Briseis, the captive of Achilles, who sulked in his tentand refused to take part in the war. At length the death of his lifelong friend, Patroclus, roused him to action, and, girt with new armour, he rushed again into the fray, and carried confusion into the Trojan ranks. Hector, the slayer of Patroclus, was himself killed, and the circumstances of Achilles' own death are variously described, although not by Homer. By some Paris, by others Apollo is named as responsible for it, the fatal wound being given by an arrow which struck Achilles in his vulnerable heel. In the Odyssey, Homer tells how his remains were baried on the shores of the Hellespont, and how Ulysses and the Telamonian Ajax fought for his armour, and refers to him as seen by Ulysses in the lower regions.
achilles - Achilles (H.M.S.); achilles - British light cruiser (7,030 tons) belonging to the New Zealand division. She was completed in 1933 and carried eight 6-in. guns. Manned chiefly by sailors from New Zealand, she joined the Ajax and the Exeter in a 14-hour attack and chase off the Uruguayan coast on the German commerce raider, the pocket-battleship Admiral Graf Spee, Dec. 13, 1939. See River Plate, Battle of.