Did Achilles meet Hercules during the war? After the death of Achilles, who led the Greek Army?

By Sunil Kumar

Although there is no comparison; let us for a moment compare Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey with Veda Vyasa’s Ramayana and Mahabharata. If Hercules can be compared(only strength wise to Hanuman) and Achilles to the greatest war in the Pandava army Arjuna or Bhima; you know that we are talking about different eras.

Now that we’ve established kind of a cultural context and superficial equivalence; Greek myths are an entirely different ballgame from the more spiritually oriented stories of India.

The Gods and the Titans and the power struggles that plague Olympus and mortals are a totally Western construct. Hercules(the proper Greek name is Herakles) was the son of Zeus and Alcmene; a mortal. Hera; the wife and sister of the chief God Zeus is mostly jealous of his escapades in nearly all the myths and attempts to cause trouble for mortals; especially illegitimate progeny of Zeus; like Heracles or Hercules.

I have read no account of Herakles meeting Achilles in the Trojan war. On the contrary; he is supposed to have sacked Troy long before the Paris and Helen story and left Priam alive; the king who was the father of the Trojan Hero Hector.

Achilles; leader of the Myrmidons is a perennially conflicted figure; the son of the immortal sea nymph Thetis and a mortal Peleus. After reluctantly taking part in the war; his ego struggles with Agamemnon keep him out of the battle as the Trojans gain the upper hand.

As you may know; Patroclus(speculated to have been his homosexual partner) dons the armor of Achilles; after which he is killed by Hector.

When Achilles falls; his armour is disputed between Odysseus; the most wily king and Ajax; and goes to the ruler of Ithaca i.e Odysseus. This drives Ajax to depression and suicide.

Unlike the Mahabharata; where we know clear generals of the Kauravas like Bhishma, Drona etc; the Greeks are individual silos with a superhero like Achilles; under the overall charge of Agamemnon and Menelaus; whose wife has run away with Paris and is the cause of the whole dispute.

Now for the differing accounts of his death. According to many Greek tales; Achilles meets his end in the truce following Hector’s funeral as he is smitten by Polyxena who cooks up a plan with Paris.

The cinematic version made famous by the movie “Troy” and a few novels. His rage at the death of Patroculs and participation in the Sack of Troy brings about his death with an arrow pointed at his heel(in some accounts) or his back(in others). Paris is supposedly guided by the god Apollo who knows the invincible warrior’s vulnerability. In all stories; Paris can only slay the mighty Achilles due to divine intel as to the Greek warrior’s most sensitive point(which has later become a phrase in the English language.)

After Achilles death; a honorary memorial is erected on a Trojan beach; and the Greek warriors join forces; Odysseus comes up with the idea of the Trojan horse and along with Neoptolemus(son of Achilles); Agamemnon etc sneak into Troy and finish it off. Women, property and gold are divided and the Greeks commit multiple offences against the Gods; for which a lot of them suffer punishment.

So; the short answer to your second question; although Achilles overshadowed most of the Greek army; he was not their leader unless you buy into the cinema version of mythology; and even there his individual eccentricities are highlighted. The unity of the Greeks in the final assault on Troy despite their infighting was a collective effort.

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