Teaching Students About the Story of Achilles
In teaching students about Greek mythology, one story that always stands out is the tale of Achilles, the legendary warrior who fought in the Trojan War. This story remains relevant today not only because of its themes of courage and heroism, but also because of its exploration of the consequences of hubris and the value of loyalty.
The story of Achilles begins with his birth to Thetis, a sea nymph, and Peleus, a mortal king. Thetis, fearing that Achilles would be mortal and therefore vulnerable to harm, dipped him in the river Styx as an infant, which rendered him invincible, but left his heel untouched. This small detail would later prove to be Achilles’ downfall.
As Achilles grew up, he became known for his warrior prowess and handsome looks, attracting the attention of the Greek king Agamemnon. Agamemnon, jealous of Achilles’ success, stole Achilles’ war prize, a woman named Briseis, leading to a falling out between the two. Achilles then retreated from the war effort, allowing the Trojans to gain the upper hand.
Eventually, Achilles’ close friend Patroclus is killed in battle under Achilles’ command, leading to a change of heart for the warrior. Achilles reenters the fray and ultimately defeats the Trojan prince Hector, but is tragically killed by an arrow to the heel, delivered by Paris.
The story of Achilles offers many opportunities for teaching lessons about character, morality, and hubris. For example, the theme of hubris is present throughout the tale, as Achilles’ pride leads him to make impulsive decisions that ultimately harm himself and those around him. By examining his mistakes, students can learn the value of humility and the dangers of arrogance.
Additionally, the story of Achilles offers many opportunities for interdisciplinary lessons, as the Trojan War was a real conflict that has seen countless artistic interpretations over the years. Exploring the art and literature surrounding the Trojan War can offer students a greater understanding of the story’s historical context and cultural relevance.
Overall, teaching students about the story of Achilles is a valuable way to introduce them to Greek mythology, as well as the themes and lessons it offers about morality, hubris, and character. By examining the hero’s journey of Achilles, students can gain insights into the complexities of human nature, and can learn valuable lessons about life, loyalty, and what it means to be a hero.