Have you ever heard of Patroclus? Even if you haven’t, there’s a pretty good chance you know about Achilles. They were two of the most famous heroes in Greek mythology, and they were best friends – until tragedy struck. This is their story.
Origin of Patroclus
Patroclus was the son of Menoetius. Patroculos’ name means “one who aids or helps an army against their enemy” – he was Achilles’ advisor and the calm voice in the stormy sea of war. Some people think that Patroculos is also Achilles, which fits how similar they are.
Patroclus is best known for being one-half of the most epic bromances ever to grace Greek mythology. He is a strong warrior, a powerful sorcerer, a loyal friend, and a fantastic healer.
A few years after his birth, Patroclus’ father went to war with King Peleus of Phthia – and died in battle. That’s how he ended up being raised by the king himself. When Patroclus grew up, Peleus thought it was time to marry. So he sent his best friend and advisor, Phoenix, to find a wife for Patroclus.
Phoenix the Advisor had his work cut out for him – because not just any woman would do. The girl had to be from one of the noblest families in Greece, had to have golden hair, have won competitions at festivals, helped her husband run their home, and was virtuous. That’s a tall order for someone that is only meant to be your wife!
But he had another problem too – Patroclus had grown up with Achilles, the son of Peleus’ wife, Thetis. He’d seen how Thetis doted on him and made sure he had the finest tutors and clothes. After all, he was going to become a mighty warrior and king.
So as soon as Phoenix found out that Thetis had a daughter (by the way, she was also named Thetis), he decided to marry her off. He knew that if Patroclus got married, his wife would help him run the kingdom – and would help him to forget about Thetis’ favoritism of Achilles.
Thetis didn’t want her pretty daughter to marry someone older than her, so she dressed her up in ancient clothes and told her to act like an older woman. That way, no one would want to marry Patroclus. But let’s say that Patroclus didn’t take too kindly to this – he told Phoenix that his wife was ruining everything.
So Thetis decided to give in and let her daughter marry Patroclus after all. She made sure to only give her the best things, though, like gold, silver, and expensive fabric.
Patroclus and Thetis’ Son
Once Thetis gave into marrying Patroclus, she became determined to have a child with him. But first, she had to make sure her son Achilles was safe. So the next time Thetis took him on an outing near water, she held onto his heel so he wouldn’t be swept away by the waves.
Unfortunately for her, Peleus happened to be walking by and saw her holding onto Achilles’ heel. He realized that they weren’t going out to the water for a stroll – he realized that she was trying to drown their son!
Enraged, Peleus threw Thetis into the ocean and ordered his servants to keep Achilles away from her. They did as they were told, but Thetis still had one last trick up her sleeve – she’d turned herself into a fish to escape!
She swam to the ocean floor and started making waves all over Greece. She stopped at Delphi first, where she asked Apollo’s Oracle if Zeus would let her come back to live with Peleus. When the oracle said yes, she moved on to Sparta and did the same thing.
Once Zeus heard this, he told Thetis to go back home with Peleus – but not before Pythia gave her a prophecy: that her son would die when he turned 40 and that Achilles had six children that were going to die before him.
Once there, she hid her son under the bed and told Peleus that the only way to convince her to stay with him would be for him to swear an oath to Zeus – if he ever laid a hand on their son, she was going to leave him. He agreed since he’d already done his share of damage.
Thetis and Achilles had a son, but he was half sea nymph, so they couldn’t let the other Greek soldiers see him – otherwise, they’d start to question why their king wasn’t aging! So Zeus and Hera took turns passing the baby to each other and ensuring that no one could see him grow up.
After doing this, Hera decided that she was sick of the baby. She refused to hold him for one day, and Zeus took over. In revenge, Hera told Achilles’ mortal mother that her son would die just before his 40th birthday. So you can see why some people think Thetis is a bad omen…
Powers of Patroclus
Patroclus was a pretty powerful guy, despite being mortal. When Zeus found out that Thetis had given Patroclus the most delicate things in the world, he made sure to provide him with all of his powers too.
That’s why Patroclus could walk underwater without breathing – since he was part sea nymph after all! He could also ride the winds and change his size at will.
Finally, Patroclus passed away, and Achilles chopped up all of his killer’s dead bodies to make sure he wasn’t disturbed in death. He was honored with a big funeral, and many Greeks tried to claim that it had been them who killed him – even though no one but Hector managed to hurt him!
Patroclus’ ghost was seen at his funeral, and Thetis cursed anyone who worshipped Achilles over him. They’re both pretty awesome, but the fact that Patroclus was mortal makes him more impressive in my eyes.
Achilles and Patroclus were pretty different – one was immortal, and the other was mortal. But they found a way to be together until their very end, fighting side-by-side. Patroclus inspired the arts and the sciences; he was a sorcerer and a healer. He was also a fierce warrior who helped Achilles fight off Hector and all of his friends.
He also inspired a few Greek heroes (notably: Jason and Heracles) to make his story a tragic one. They all helped him fight against Troy, but none were as successful as Achilles and Patroclus had been.
The ancient Greeks thought Patroclus was an important figure because he was “the first friend.” He wasn’t just Achilles’ friend; he was everyone’s – and they thought that if it hadn’t been for him, then the war wouldn’t have happened in the first place.
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