Achilles was a half-divine hero, being the son of the sea nymph Thetis and king Peleus of Thessaly. He was educated by the wise centaur Cheiron and was described as extremely handsome but also very emotional. He was almost immortal since his mother had dipped him into the river Styx as a baby. Holding the child by its heel when putting it in the water, Thetis made Achilles' whole body except the heel immortal.
He had a son, Neoptolemus, with the Skyrian princess Deidameia. With her he lived on the island on Skyros. When the war against Troy was ignited by the kidnapping of Helen, Thetis learnt by an oracle that her son would not come back alive if he joined Agamemnon. The oracle had said that he would either die young and glorious, or reach old age in obscurity.
Thetis then made Achilles disguise himself as a woman, thus becoming the first known cross-dresser, but unfortunately he was revealed by Odysseus and forced to join the army against Troy. Odysseus managed to reveal Achilles true identity by dressing as a merchant, then filling a cart with weapons, clothing and perfumes. While the women ran to see the clothes and perfumes, Achilles ran to he weapons. According to another version, Odysseus blew a horn, which made all the women flee except Achilles.
Achilles led a fleet of 50 ships with an army of warriors called the Myrmidons. When they arrived in Troy, they also conquered 12 cities by the sea and 11 on land. Achilles killed the queen of the Amazons, Penthelisea, but just as she died their eyes met and they both fell desperately in love. After an argument with king Agamemnon, who had taken Briseis, a beautiful hostage, from Achilles - the hero was so upset that he pulled out of the war. His best friend was Patroclus and when he was killed by the Trojan hero Hector Achilles was totally mortified. Homer describes how Achilles cut off his hair in mourning and lit the funeral pyre. As a revenge, Achilles killed Hector, dragged the body around the city, but was soon himself killed by the Trojan prince Paris, Helen's kidnapper, who with Aphrodite's help shot an arrow into Achilles only weak spot: his heel.
Thetis and the Nine Muses attended Achilles funeral. In the underworld Achilles remained a leader, but it was not a happy existence. According to another version, the hero was taken to Elysium by his mother, where he married Helen or Medea. Yet another myth tells us that his shadow asked Polyxene to be present at his funeral. She was a Trojan princess who, despite him killing her brother, had fallen in love with Achilles. Polyxene went willingly to the funeral pyre, where the Greeks killed her.