The reason why I love Achilles is that he has so much balance to him. This is a man who is poised on the knife’s edge, volatile and proud, but also dedicated and honorable, loving and kind, and so desperate that it tastes like bloody iron in your mouth. He came from a mother who only cared about his accomplishments, a distant father constantly wary of his son. A young boy of 16 thrown into a war he didn’t understand or care about. A boy who grew into a man surrounded by blood, who lost his innocence the first night on Trojan ground, who was in charge of 2500 men and bucked under the tight grip of his obstinate commander, who stood up for what he believed was right, who championed single combat and valued xénia above almost all else.
A boy who staked his entire life, all the years he had to live, all the children and family and long decades with Patroclus, on this one war, this one soap-bubble fragile chance to shine like a god. This boy who, to the end, was unsure about his choice, who was ready to return home with Patroclus and his men, to live in obscurity and fade away rather than live another day of blood. This boy who had decades to come to terms with the fact that he would die, that Patroclus would live on without him, that he would never see the other side of thirty, only to have it ripped away from him as Agamemnon stole the physical embodiment of his achievement, of his honor, of all the work he had put in, everything he had given up. To have it ripped away from him again as Patroclus died first, blindsiding him completely. This man who grieved and loved so strongly that his rage decimated the Trojan ranks, that he choked rivers with blood because the world had to hurt as much as he did, who fought gods and won, who had to be killed by the Gods because his hurt was so strong it could rip apart Fate itself. This man who wasn’t afraid of kings or gods, who spoke out the will of the people, who cared for his prizes and matched wits with Odysseus. This shining golden mortal who teetered over the edge of more than one precipice and forcibly pulled himself back from it. This man who took his revenge on his enemy and it wasn’t enough, was never enough, because Hector could only die once and that was nothing compared to the hollowed out ripping Achilles felt inside him at Patroclus’ death, at the fear Patroclus must have felt, trapped in Achilles’ armor, at the pain and the blood and the terror, and he dragged Hector around and around and around and it still wasn’t enough. This hollowed out man filled with pain who still listened to a father when Agamemnon would not. This man who went out and fought Amazons after, but hoped to die. Who fought warlords after, but hoped to die. This mechanical broken god’s puppet who had to be killed by Apollo because, even shattered, he was invincible. This man whose last wish was that his bones be mixed with those of the man he avenged, the man he loved more than life itself, more than his godhood or his immortality, Patroclus, who removed all rational thought from his head. This man who made a bargain with Fate and shocked the very skies themselves with how he upheld it. This man who traded his years for immortality and who has still lived through stories to this day.