My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I stumbled across a reference to this work and was intrigued. It contains the first extant reference to Achilles being dipped in the River Styx to make him invulnerable (p. vii). In a Latin text, not even a Greek one! His mother, the goddess Thetis, held him by his heel, thus keeping that part from being invincible and giving us the term Achilles’ heel. I had to read this short work and I picked up the translation by Stanley Lombardo with an introduction by Peter Heslin. I’d rate the story 4-5 and the translation 3-4, so I picked 4 for my overall rating.
The story covers Achilles, from after he was left with the Centaur Chiron and up to when he sails away with the Greek fleet to go to Troy. It mostly covers his mother’s attempt to hide him from the Greeks so that he would not go to Troy and die as he was fated to from birth. An interesting love story that has Achilles hiding dressed as a girl and being found out by Odysseus. It’s short, unfinished likely due to Statius’s death, but still, it is polished and was presented to the public before he died. It stands on its own and tells a fun and interesting story.
I’ve read so much about Achilles, Greek and Latin mythology, etc. but hadn’t heard this tale. There is so much more for me to learn. And yet, the saddest part is that so little has survived from antiquity. What we do have is but a small portion of these great myths and epics. Writers like Statius, Ovid and others knew these stories as did their readers. How much more did they know that we only see flashes and glimpses of, or never hear about at all.
So … keep reading. I picked up Ovid’s Metamorphoses based on Heslin’s introduction!