Ajax, Latin Ajax, Greek Aias, byname Ajax the Greater, in Greek legend, son of Telamon, king of Salamis, described in the Iliad as being of great stature and colossal frame, second only to the Greek hero Achilles in strength and bravery. Having been warned by Prometheus that he would be dethroned by a child born to him and Thetis, Zeus forced Thetis to marry a mortal in order to remove the temptation. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. [2] Because of their ant-ish origins, they wore brown armour. The legend has it that from his blood sprang a red flower that bore on its leaves the initial letters of his name, AI, letters that are also expressive of lament. In Greek mythology, Achilles or Achilleus (Ancient Greek: Ἀχιλλεύς, [a.kʰilˈleu̯s]) was a hero of the Trojan War, the greatest of all the Greek warriors, and is the central character of Homer's Iliad. According to Homer, Achilles was brought up by his mother at Phthia with his cousin and inseparable companion Patroclus. Amphora with Ajax and Achilles playing a board game, painted by Exekias, This article was most recently revised and updated by, Ajax - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up). (function() { s.parentNode.insertBefore(gcse, s); Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; As the ants of the island were unaffected by the sickness, Zeus responded by transforming them into a race of people, the Myrmidons. Achilles was a powerful hero in Homer's Iliad, and undoubtedly the greatest warrior on the battlefield at Troy. It is in common use as a title for character classes or enemies, and even occasionally used as the name for a piece of equipment or vehicle within a game. On coming to his senses, he slew himself with the sword that he had received as a present from Hector. When Achilles was just an infant, his mother immersed him in the river Styx, which separates the land of the living from the land of the dead, to confer on him immortality, and to make him invincible in battle. Achilles, in Greek mythology, son of the mortal Peleus, king of the Myrmidons, and the Nereid, or sea nymph, Thetis. He engaged Hector (the chief Trojan warrior) in single combat and later, with the aid of the goddess Athena, rescued the body of Achilles from the hands of the Trojans. After a time, Aeacus exiled his two sons, Peleus and Telamon, for murdering their half-brother, Phocis. She held him by the heel and dipped him into the river Styx. Ajax was the tutelary hero of the island of Salamis, where he had a temple and an image and where a festival called Aianteia was celebrated in his honour. Hera, queen of the gods, sent a plague to kill all the human inhabitants of Aegina because the island was named for one of the lovers of Zeus. All unauthorized commercial reproduction prohibited. Achilles was the bravest, handsomest, and greatest warrior of the army of Agamemnon in the Trojan War. Even someone who may outwardly appear to be all-powerful, or even invincible, isn't without a weak spot, or Achilles' heel. gcse.src = 'https://cse.google.com/cse.js?cx=' + cx; He competed with the Greek hero Odysseus for the armour of Achilles but lost, which so enraged him that it caused his death.