According to legend, when Achilles was born, his mother, in an effort to make him immortal, took Achilles to the Styx river and dipped him. She held him by one heel. The area where her fingers held him remained dry. As the heel was not touched by the waters of the Styx, it was the one vulnerable place on Achilles.
Achilles became the hero of many battles during the Trojan War. Paris, Prince of the Trojans, shot an arrow in the heel of Achilles. Because the heel was the one spot untouched by immortality, Achilles died.
The mythology of Achilles not only gives us the term “Achilles’ heel,” the tendon connecting the heel to the calf muscles is named the “Achilles” tendon.”
It has been argued that the vulnerability of Achilles did not originally lie in his heel. In Homer’s “The Iliad,” his vulnerable area is his pride. It is suggested his weak spot did not become the heel until the Romans told the story of Achilles in a poem written by Statius.
Whatever the derivation, the term in the English language is written as the “Achilles’ heel” of a person or corporation.
- The CEO of the company is personal friends with his employees. His friendship with them is his Achilles’ heel.
- Her fondness for flattery has always been her Achilles’ heel.
In these sentences, the term means the subjects can be manipulated by compliments and feelings for their employees.
The English language originated from the Latin language, the language of the Roman empire, and from the Greek. Therefore, it is unsurprising the term “Achilles’ heel” derives from both Greek and Roman myths.