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Achilles’ heel

I’ve got to believe that there are one hell of a lot of monumentally miffed gods out there. Achilles, a warrior in Greek mythology who was a big shot in the Trojan wars, is often called a demigod. He’s not even a full god, yet he has a widely used metaphor (Achilles’ heel) and a body part (Achilles tendon, the next entry in the dictionary) named after him.

What about the full gods? Don’t they feel slighted, to say the least? I would think so.

Zeus was the head honcho of the Greek gods, but he doesn’t even have a knuckle named after him.

And Baal was a really big, competing god in the Middle East back in the days when the current Abrahamic God was first making His way in the world. But has Baal got so much as an everyday analogy, a hair follicle or anything else named after him? No, he has not. I’m convinced it’s all politics.

Not all of the gods were left out. The Norse gods Tyr, Wodan (aka Odin) and Thor have days named after them (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday). And they weren’t all male chauvinists. The Norse goddess Frigg also has a day named after her, Friday. I think she might also be responsible for the word frigging, but I could be wrong about that.

A roman god, Saturn, also gets credit in our days of the week. We can thank him for Saturday.

Nevertheless, that still leaves a whole pantheon of ancient and modern-day gods who haven’t had any such honors bestowed upon them. Yet here’s this demigod of Greece, Achilles, who gets an analogy and a body part named after him. Like I said, the other gods, many of whom have been languishing in obscurity for many millennia after being pushed into the background by more recent gods, must be royally pissed off.

In this entry I’ll talk about only the analogy, Achilles’ heel, because the body part, Achilles tendon, has it’s own dictionary entry, which the dictionary editor probably put there just to annoy the other gods.

When Achilles was just an infant, it was predicted that he would die young. To stave off this fate, his mother dipped him in the River Styx, which was supposed to have magical powers. Unfortunately, rather than throwing him in the water and letting this little baby sink or swim, she held him by his heel. What a caring mother she was.

As a result, Achilles’ heel wasn’t protected by the magic waters. Later in life, a poisonous arrow struck his heel, his allegedly one vulnerable spot, and he died. Bad luck for him, I’d say.

If you were not familiar with this story, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “I can’t believe how crazy those ancient Greeks were to believe such incredibly silly nonsense about the foretelling of an early death and the magical powers of a river.” If you are thinking that, clear your mind of everything you might have been taught or heard before and read the bible stories of modern-day religions. Then ask yourself if they seem any less crazy when you start out with a blank mind as far as religion goes. They do not.

Oh yeah, back to the analogy. If you are an otherwise very competent, adept person, but you have one vulnerability, that’s called your Achilles heel.

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