Even though Homer makes no mention of it, there is one piece of evidence that provides the earliest known reference to Achilles’ vulnerable ankle. A Chalcidian pot from the now-lost Penbroke-Hope collection, dated ca. 540 BC, features a number of warriors. Clearly visible on the ground is Achilles: an arrow sticks from his back, but by far the most prominent wound is the arrow that has pierced his ankle.
The scene features a number of interesting details. The goddess Athena watches over the battle. Achilles is dead on the ground. The Lycian commander Glaucus has pierced Achilles’ ankle and pulled a rope through it to be able to drag the corpse away, but he is struck down by the Greater Ajax. Behind Glaucus we see the Trojan prince Paris: equipped with bow and quiver, he is clearly the one who loosed the fatal shot.
Some may object that it’s a bit silly for a hero to be killed by being shot in the ankle. But this is fantasy, not reality. Something similar happens in the story of the Argonauts, when Jason and his compatriots defeat the bronze giant Talos, the defender of Crete, by removing a plug in his ankle, causing his lifeforce to drain away.
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