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Achilles: Immortal, But For a Fatal Flaw

Achilles was the son of a mortal, King Pileas of Thessaly, and a fairy and grew up to become the mightiest of the Greeks in the Trojan War, and is the hero of Homer's "Iliad."

When he was still a child, his mother Thetis, a water nymph, tried to make him mortal by holding him by the heel and dipping him in the sacred river Styx.

Everything the water touched became invulnerable, but his heel remained dry and therefore unprotected.

A seer prophesied that the city of Troy could not be taken without Achilles' help.

Indeed he distinguished himself as an undefeatable Greek warrior, capturing 23 towns in Trojan territory and killing countless Trojans.

But finally and tragically Paris, aided by Apollo, fatally wounds Achilles in the heel with an arrow.

So the demi-god Achilles, known also as Diogenes -- meaning "generation of Zeus," or more loosely translated as "descendant of Zeus" -- left us with the expression "Achilles' heel" (vulnerable spot).

I am giving this embroidery -- which was exhibited during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games -- to French President Nicolas Sarkozy.


Achilles, Hero of the Trojan War.