Achilles is one of the most well-known heroes in Greek mythology, in part because of what’s known as “Achilles’ Heel.” In Greek mythology, Achilles was killed by a single arrow that struck him in his most vulnerable spot, an arrow that was said to have been guided by Apollo himself. So, why did Apollo hate Achilles and want him dead?
Apollo hated Achilles because they were enemies throughout the Trojan war. Apollo sought to remind Achilles, a defender of Troy, of his mortal status. Achilles also killed a Trojan prince at Apollo’s sanctuaries, thus igniting a pattern of vengeance that followed between the two.
In this article, I’ll discuss these two in more detail and explain why Apollo ultimately killed Achilles.
Why Apollo Hated Achilles
According to Homer’s Iliad, Apollo and Achilles were enemies throughout the Trojan war battle scenes. Apollo served as a constant reminder that Achilles was a mortal man without the divine immortality of the gods.
During the Trojan war, Agamemnon, the leader of the Greek armies, took a young Trojan woman as a concubine. The young woman was Chryseis, and her father was a priest of Apollo’s.
When Agamemnon refused to return Chryseis to her father, Apollo became enraged and sent a plague to kill the Greek soldiers until Agamemnon agreed to release Chryseis. However, he also demanded that Achilles’ companion, Briseis, be sent as a replacement concubine.
After sending Briseis, Achilles refused to fight for Agamemnon. This allowed the Trojans to claim some victories. Eventually, Achilles’ friend Patroclus convinced Achilles and let him use his armor as a disguise so that the Trojans would retreat, thinking that Achilles had returned to the battlefield.
Unfortunately, Apollo, who was still upset about how Agamemnon had treated Chryseis and her father, helped the Trojan Prince, Hector, find and kill Patroclus.
Achilles, in another act of vengeance, murdered Hector and later returned to Troy to avenge Patroclus further. However, Apollo interfered yet again and told Hector’s brother, Paris, of Achilles’ plans.
When Achilles was entering Troy, Paris shot an arrow at him. It is believed that Apollo himself guided the arrow to Achilles’ only vulnerable spot on his body – his heel, resulting in his immediate death.
Who Was Achilles?
Achilles was the son of a mortal and a nymph. After he was born, his mother dipped Achilles into the River Styx to protect him from the dangers of the mortal world. In doing so, she left a vulnerable spot on his heel where she held onto him as she dipped him into the river.
When Achilles got older, he joined the Greeks and entered the Trojan War. His mother, Thetis, asked the blacksmith of Mount Olympus to make Achilles a sword and shield to protect him.
In Homer’s Iliad, Achilles is described as powerful, brutal, vengeful, and quick to anger, as well as handsome and courageous. While he was not an immortal god, he had some qualities (and his armor) that made him more powerful than the average Greek man.
Achilles and Apollo were very similar even though Achilles was a mortal and Apollo was a god. Because of this, they were enemies, as Apollo sought to remind Achilles that he was not immortal. Ultimately Apollo killed Achilles out of vengeance with an arrow strike, knowing that Achilles’ heel was his only vulnerability.