English Language; Drama & Speech; Social Etiquette. Est. 1986, Hong Kong

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18 September 2015

Achilles

Teacher John tells us about his recent injury.

Achilles is the hero of Homer’s famous story, The Iliad, which tells how the ancient Greeks fought the Trojans in a ten-year war. They destroyed the city of Troy in order to win back Helen, King Menelaus’ wife, whom everyone thought was the most beautiful woman in the world.

There are many fables about Achilles, and one of them tells how he became immortal. Achilles was said to be a demigod, or half-god; his mother was the nymph Thetis, and his father, Peleus, was the king of the Myrmidons. When he was born he was mortal, and his mother, in order to make him live forever, dipped him in the magic waters of the river Styx. However, she held him by his heel and this part of his body did not get wet, so it became his weak point. When he was fighting at Troy, he was hit by an arrow in his heel and killed.

Even today, when we talk about someone’s weak point, we refer to their “Achilles heel”, as in: “Steven’s Achilles heel is that he can’t get out of bed in the morning.”

We also name a part of the body after Achilles. The Achilles tendon is like a thick elastic band that connects our heel to our calf. It helps us when we run and jump. However, sometimes it can tear, or even break completely. This is what happened to me. I was playing badminton and suddenly there was a loud snap and I fell over. My foot was completely numb and I couldn’t move it.

At the hospital, I was told I had ruptured the tendon, which means the same as broken. I had to have an operation where they sewed the tendon back together. After this, I wore a cast, which is like a hard sock made of plaster, for seven weeks, and moved about using crutches.

Now I am doing lots of physiotherapy and should be walking normally soon. Unlike Achilles, I didn’t die – maybe I am immortal!