- The story concerning the legendary hero Achilles has been told many times. Achilles was the central figure and tragic protagonist in Homer's Iliad. He possessed athletic strength, warlike prowess, and handsomeness. His mother, Thetis, had a premonition that her son would die in battle. She therefore, when he was still an infant, held him by the heel and dipped him into the river Styx to make him invulnerable. The water touched every part of his body except the heel that Thetis held, leaving it the weak link in his magic armor. During the siege of Troy, a poisoned arrow from the bow of the Trojan prince Paris pierced Achilles' heel, fatally wounding him. W. S. Merwin in The Judgment of Paris described the lethal arrow in these words: "In the quiver on Paris' back the head of the arrow for Achilles' heel smiled in its sleep." The elopement of Paris with Helen, the wife of Menelaus, King of Sparta, you may recall, started the Trojan War.This story gave birth to the saying that the weak part of anything, no matter how small or how large, is that person's Achilles heel. The name Achilles tendon (alternative scientific name of tendo Achilles) has been given to the strong muscle that connects the calf of the leg with the heel. Homer had hinted at, but didn't describe, the death of Achilles. His reference to Achilles' death was simply that he died "before the Scaean gates" during the Trojan War.
Dictionary of eponyms. Morton S. Freeman. 2013.