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The Wrath of Achilles, by François-Léon Benouville (1821–1859) (Musée Fabre) The Wrath of Achilles, by François-Léon Benouville (1821–1859) (Musée Fabre)

“Sing, O goddess, the anger of Achilles son of Peleus, that brought countless ills upon the Achaeans. Many a brave soul did it send hurrying down to Hades, and many a hero did it yield a prey to dogs and vultures, for so were the counsels of Jove fulfilled from the day on which the son of Atreus, king of men, and great Achilles, first fell out with one another”

Achilles, is a hero and greatest warriorof the Trojan War he is known for being the most 'powerful' of the heroes assembled at Troy, as well as the fleetest. He has a relationship with Patroclus of deep friendship and love.


Achilles was the son of the mortal Peleus, king of the Myrmidons in Phthia (southeast Thessaly), and the sea nymph Thetis. Zeus and Poseidon had been rivals for the hand of Thetis until Prometheus the fire-bringer prophesied that Thetis would bear a son greater than his father. For this reason, the two gods withdrew their pursuit, and had her wed to Peleus.

When Achilles was born Thetis tried to make him immortal by dipping him in the river Styx. However, she forgot to wet the heel she held him by, leaving him vulnerable at that spot. In another version of this story, Thetis anointed the boy in ambrosia and put him on top of a fire to burn away the mortal parts of his body. She was interrupted by Peleus and abandoned both father and son in a rage.

However no source before Statius makes any reference to this invulnerability. The same Homer in the Iliad, to the contrary, mentions Achilles being wounded. (In Book 21 the Paeonian hero Asteropaeus, son of Pelegon, challenged Achilles by the river Scamander. He cast two spears at once, one grazed Achilles' elbow, "drawing a spurt of blood.") Also in the Greek poems in which we can find description of the hero's death, Kùpria (unknown author), Aithiopis by Arctinus of Miletus, Ilias Mikrà by Lesche of Mytilene, Iliou pèrsis by Arctinus of Miletus, there is no trace of any reference to his invulnerability or his famous heel; and in the pictures of that age presenting Achilles' death the arrow (in many cases arrows) hit him on the body.

Peleus entrusted Achilles to Chiron the Centaur, on Mt. Pelion, to be raised.

Achilles in the Trojan War

Rage—sing, goddess, the rage of Achilles, the son of Peleus,
the destructive rage that brought countless griefs upon the Achaeans...

Achilles is the only mortal to experience consuming rage. His anger is at some times wavering, at other times absolute. The humanization of Achilles by the events of the war is an important theme of the story.


While Troilus, the youngest son of Priam and Hecuba (who some say was fathered by Apollo), was watering his horses at the Lion Fountain outside the walls of Troy, Achilles saw him and fell in love with his beauty. The youth rejected his advances and took refuge inside the temple of Apollo. Achilles pursued him into the sanctuary and decapitated him on the god's own altar. At the time, Troilus was said to be a year short of his twentieth birthday, and the legend goes that if Troilus had lived to be twenty, Troy would have been invincible.

The Iliad

Homer's Iliad is the most famous narrative of Achilles' deeds in the Trojan War. The Homeric epic only covers a few weeks of the war, and does not narrate Achilles' death. It begins with Achilles' withdrawal from battle after he is dishonored by Agamemnon, the commander of the Achaean forces. Agamemnon had taken a woman named Chryseis as his slave, her father Chryses, a priest of Apollo, begged Agamemnon to return her to him. Agamemnon refused and Apollo sent a plague amongst the Greeks. The prophet Calchas correctly determined the source of the troubles but would not speak unless Achilles vowed to protect him. Achilles did so and Calchas declared Chyrsies must be returned to her father. Agamemnon consented, but then commanded that Achilles' slave Briseis be brought to replace Chryseis. Angry at the dishonor (and as he says later, because he loved Briseis)[8] and at the urging of Thetis, Achilles refused to fight or lead his Myrmidons alongside the other Greek forces.

As the battle turned against the Greeks, Nestor declared that had Agamemnon not angered Achilles, the Trojans would not be winning and urged Agamemnon to appease Achilles. Agamemnon agreed and sent Odysseus and two other chieftains to Achilles with the offer of the return of Briseis and other gifts. Achilles stubbornly refused and urged the Greeks to sail home as he was planning to do.

Eventually, however, hoping to retain glory despite his absence from the battle, Achilles prayed to his mother Thetis, asking her to plead with Zeus to allow the Trojans to push back the Greek forces. The Trojans, led by Hector, subsequently pushed the Greek army back toward the beaches and assaulted the Greek ships. With the Greek forces on the verge of absolute destruction, Achilles consented to Patroclus (sometimes considered Achilles' lover) leading the Myrmidons into battle, though Achilles would remain at his camp. Patroclus succeeded in pushing the Trojans back from the beaches, but was killed by Hector before he could lead a proper assault on the city of Troy.

Hector versus Achilles

After receiving the news of the death of Patroclus from Antilochus, the son of Nestor, Achilles grieved over his friend and held many funeral games in his honor. His mother Thetis came to comfort the distraught Achilles. She persuaded Hephaestus to make new armor for him, in place of the armor that Patroclus had been wearing which was taken by Hector. The new armor included the Shield of Achilles, described in great detail by the poet.

Enraged over the death of Patroclus, Achilles ended his refusal to fight and took the field killing many men in his rage but always seeking out Hector. Achilles even got in a fight with the river god Scamander who became angry that Achilles was choking his waters with all the men he killed. The god tried to drown Achilles but was stopped by Hera and Hephaestus. Zeus himself took note of Achilles' rage and sent the gods to restrain him so that he would not go on to sack Troy itself, seeming to show that the unhindered rage of Achilles could defy fate itself as Troy was not meant to be destroyed yet. Finally Achilles found his prey. Achilles chased Hector around the wall of Troy three times before Athena, in the form of Hector's favorite and dearest brother, Deiphobus, persuaded Hector to fight face to face. Achilles got his vengeance, killing Hector with a blow to the neck. He then tied Hector's body to his chariot and dragged it around the battlefield for thirteen days.

With the assistance of the god Hermes, Priam, Hector's father, went to Achilles' tent and convinced Achilles to permit him to allow Hector his funeral rites. The final passage in the Iliad is Hector's funeral, after which the doom of Troy is just a matter of time.


Following the death of Patroclus, Achilles's closest companion was Nestor's son Antilochus. When Memnon of Ethiopia killed Antilochus, Achilles was once again drawn onto the battlefield to seek revenge. The fight between Achilles and Memnon over Antilochus echoes that of Achilles and Hector over Patroclus, except that Memnon (unlike Hector) is also the son of a goddess (like Achilles).

Achilles, after his temporary truce with Priam, fought and killed the Amazonian warrior queen Penthesilea.

As predicted by Hector with his dying breath, Achilles was thereafter killed by Paris by an arrow to the heel while visiting Polyxena, a princess of Troy the god Apollo guided Paris' arrow.

Showing Paris was a coward and not the man his brother Hector was, and Achilles remains undefeated on the battlefield. His bones are mingled with those of Patroclus, and funeral games are held.

Paris was later killed by Philoctetes using the enormous bow of Heracles.

The fate of Achilles' armor

Achilles' armor was the object of a feud between Odysseus and Telamonian Ajax (Achilles' older cousin). They competed for it by giving speeches on why they were the bravest after Achilles and the most deserving to receive it. Odysseus won. Ajax went mad with grief and vowed to kill his comrades; he started killing cattle or sheep, thinking in his madness that they were Greek soldiers. He then killed himself.

Roleplaying Notes

Trojan War: Roleplaying in the Age of Homeric Adventure

A Mythic Vistas Sourcebook for the d20 System
Written by Aaron Rosenberg

Used with permissiom from Paolo

As seen in Paolo's thread at Dicefreaks

Barbarian 17, fighter 17
DvR0 (hero-deity)  
Medium humanoid  
Hit Dice 17 d12 + 17 d10 + 204 (414 hp)
Initiative +11 (+4,+7 Dexterity)
Speed 30 feet
AC 34 (+10 armour, +6 Dexterity, +8 shield), touch 16, flat-footed 34
Base Attack/Grapple +27/37
+49 Pelian Spear (1d8 + 18, 19-20 x3) or + 45 shortsword (1d6 + 15, 17-20 x2) melee, or + 46 Pelian Spear (1d8 + 18, 19-20 x3 ) ranged (30 ft range increment, +1 on attack and damage rolls at ranges up to 30 feet for Point Blank Shot feat).
Full Attack + 49/49/44/39/34 Pelian Spear (1d8 + 18, 19-20 x3) or +45/40/35/30 shortsword (1d6 + 15, 17-20 x2) melee, or +49 spear (1d8 + 18, 19-20 x3 )
Space/Reach 5 ft. x 5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks rage 5/day
Special Qualities Damage reduction 4/-, Divine blood, Fast movement, Improved uncanny dodge, Invulnerability, Indomitable will, Quickfoot, Trap sense +5, Uncanny dodge
Saves Fort +27, Ref +20, Will +14.
Abilities Strength 30, Dexterity 24, Constitution 23, Intelligence 12, Wisdom 12, Charisma 25
Skills Climb +20, Handle Animal+17, Intimidate +30, Jump +23, Knowledge (religion) +10, Ride (Dexterity)+27, Swim +25, Listen +11, Perform (Musical instrument) +17
Feats Cleave, Combat Expertise, Far shot, Great Cleave, Improved Bull Rush, Improved critical (spear), Improved Initiative, Improved shield bash, Improved Unarmed Strike, Point Blank Shot, Power Attack, Shock trooper, Two-Weapon Fighting, Weapon Focus (spear), Weapon Specialisation (spear), Whirlwind Attack
Epic Feats Devastating Critical (spear), Epic Prowess x3, Improved Whirlwind Attack, Overwhelming Critical (spear)
Climate/Terrain Greek camp outside Troy
Organization Solitary, or with Patroclus, or with 1-10 servants or 3d6 soldiers
Challenge Rating 38
Treasure half standard, and see possessions.
Alignment Chaotic good

Divine blood immune to polymorphing, petrification or any form-altering attack, energy drain, ability drain and ability damage; +10 vs disease, poison, Paralysis, death effects, disintegration; +5 vs binding, soul bind, Temporal Stasis, Trap the Soul; Spell Resistance 25

Fast movement when wearing medium armor or lighter, Achilles’ speed is +10 feet

Improved uncanny dodge no flanking attack unless the rogue has at least 21 levels

Indomitable will +4 on will saves to resist enchantement spells during rage

Invulnerability As a result from the immersion in the river Styge, Achilles'skin has damage reduction 15/epic, apart from his left heel. This damage reduction stack with the one from his barbarian class feature, so against non-epic weapons the DR would be 19, and only 4 against epic weapons (or on his weak spot).

Quickfoot Achilles is renowed for his agility in combat. He has the following feats for free even if he doesn’t meets all the requirements: Dodge, Mobility, Spring Attack

Rage 5/day. While raging, Achilles has +6 to strength and Constitution, +3 bonus on will saves, -2 to AC). He’s not fatigued at the end of the rage. As long as Achilles rages, he has the following stats: AC 32, hp 516, +3 to melee attack rolls ad will saves (+7 versus enchantement spells), Strength 36, Constitution 29, lasts for 12 rounds.

Trap sense Achilles has a +5 bonus on reflex saves to avoid traps and on AC against attacks made by traps

Uncanny dodge (retains Dexterity bonus if flat-footed) ,


The Armor of Achilles

Created by Hephaestus and said to be impenertrable.

+5 masterwork breastplate of greater fire resistance with double Dexterity modifier (+6 instead of +3) helm of arrow deflection (up to four ranged attacks every round),

Shield of Peleus

Hephaestus fashioned this +6 of freedom of movement and spell turning, burnished five-layered round bronze shield for Achilles, and it matches his armor. The Shield was forged by Hephaestus and decorated with two very different images. Part of the front of the sheild has scenes of the glory of war. But featured more prominately on the shield are scenes of peace, constellations, cities, fields, home, and family, things Achillies never got the chance to know. Any foe who faces the man carrying this shield must succeed on a DC 20 Will save become panicked.

Strong enchantment; CL 20th; Weight 40 lb.

Sword of Peleus

This +5 keen bronze shortsword of speed was given to Peleus as a wedding present. He gave it to Achilles when he went off to the war.

Strong transmutation; CL 18th; Weight 4 lb.

The Pelian Spear

This impressive +8 keen throwing spear has an ash wood shaft(from an ash tree on Mount Pelion) and a long bronze head. Chiron the centaur crafted it and gave it to Peleus as a wedding present. Peleus gave it to Achilles for the war.

Strong transmutation; CL 20th; Weight 4 lb.

Xanthus and Balius

Achilles immortal horses, Hera endowed them with human speech they were the offspring of the west wind Zephyrus and the harpy Celaeno.

Golden Chariot

The golden chariot was part of Poseidon’s wedding present to Peleus, who then gave it to Achilles. The chariot is made of bronze with gold inlays, and gives its driver +5 competence bonus to Drive checks and +2 bonus to all Strength or Dexterity checks or skill checks related to driving and to controlling the horses.

Strong transmutation; CL 23rd.

Note: those are made with iron by Hephaestus. All the weapons in the Trojan war are made of bronze.

Notes before Patroclus' death, he had a bronze +4 breastplate (+9 armour), +3 Dexterity, +3 large bronze shield: ac 27, touch 16, flat-footed 27, a +4 spear of wounding (the only way to cure the Constitution loss was to place the spear over the victim’s wounds and then to heal them) and a +3 shortsword. Those weapons, wield by Patroclus, were taken by the Trojans after his death and used by Hector, before the latter was killed by Achilles.

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