The myth about the Achilles’ heel was not always presented as the main weakness in his life.
- Achilles was the son of Thetis and Peleus, the bravest hero in the Trojan war, according to Greek mythology.
- When Achilles was born, his mother, Thetis, tried to make him immortal by dipping him in the River Styx.
- As she immersed him, she held him by one heel and forgot to dip him a second time so the heel she held could get wet too.
- Therefore, the place where she held him remained untouched by the magic water of the Styx and that part stayed mortal or vulnerable.
- To this day, any weak point is called an "Achilles' heel".
- We also refer to the strong tendon that connects the muscles of the calf of the leg with the heel bone as the "Achilles' tendon".
The term "Achilles' heel" was first used by a Dutch anatomist, Verheyden, in 1693 when he dissected his own amputated leg.
- Although the above rendition of the Achilles' story is in current vogue, Michael Macrone, in his It’s Greek to Me, tells us that Achilles didn't always have a vulnerable heel.
- Oh yes, he had a weak spot, but according to the original story about Achilles, Homer, in the Iliad, said it was his pride.
- Later versions indicate his weakness was his love for the Trojan princess Polyxena.
- In his Metamorphoses, Ovid suggested that Achilles had a vulnerable spot on his body; but the Roman poet, Statius (c. A.D. 45-96), was the first to imply in a poem that it was his heel.