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Great Achilles. Brilliant Achilles, shining Achilles, godlike Achilles . . . How the epithets pile up. We never called him any of those things; we called him ‘the butcher’.
Swift-footed Achilles. Now there’s an interesting one. More than anything else, more than brilliance, more than greatness, his speed defined him. There’s a story that he once chased the god Apollo all over the plains of Troy. Cornered at last, Apollo is supposed to have said: ‘You can’t kill me, I’m immortal.’ ‘Ah, yes,’ Achilles replied. ‘But we both know if you weren’t immortal, you’d be dead.’
Nobody was ever allowed the last word; not even a god.
I heard him before I saw him: his battle cry ringing round the walls of Lyrnessus.Continue Reading