an educational carrd

click here if you want to skip straight to confutations of common arguments against the use of this term

what is "achillean"?

let's start with what it means in the context of the lgbt+ community:

non-women (men, men-aligned nonbinary people, and unaligned nonbinary people) attracted to other non-women, namely men, use the term "achillean" as a way to identify themselves in terms of their attraction. essentially, it's a word that encapsulates the experiences of mlm and nblm. it provides us with a term that all m/nblm can identity under and in turn facilitates solidarity between gay and bi+ men/nonbinary people.

the term also has a meaning outside of the lgbt+ community:

the word "achillean" is used to describe any individual who expresses traits similar to the greek hero achilles. this can be anything from strength with a key weakness to simply being driven by one's emotions.

It is widely agreed upon by historians that Achilles was attracted to men. An individual's sexuality can be classified as one of their characteristics. *Therefore, "achillean" being used to describe mlm under both of the aforementioned definitions is legitimate.

*For the sake of clarity any further use of the word "achillean" throughout this carrd should be assumed to adhere to the first definition (m/nblm) unless stated otherwise.

who coined "achillean"?

there is no singular person who has taken credit for coining "achillean":

achillean was proposed as a term to describe mlm in 2016 and gained a spotlight at the time. this was done through suggestions to the tumblr user @semituring (eir blog at the time was @asculan). ey didn't coin the term, but eir post can be at least partially attributed to the recent popularization of it. achillean was created by various unknown mlm who wanted a word to describe themselves in terms of their attraction.

achillean has been used to describe mlm since 1959, if not earlier:

though earlier uses of "achillean" in regard to mlm were done so by using it as an adjective to denote attraction as that between two men, it's unknown how long the term has been used as a noun to describe the mlm community.


who was achilles?
why is the term named after him?

achilles was the son of king peleus of phthia and the nereid (sea nymph) thetis. he is the protagonist of homer's iliad, which like most works from the time, is heavily fictionalized, despite being partially historical:

achilles was the most powerful, talented, and fearsome greek warrior to exist. born in phthia with immortal blood, he grew up alongside his companion patrocles and trained under the centaur chiron on mt. pelion. he was destined to either live a long life of obscurity or become a renowned hero, but die young.

achilles chose to pursue the latter and take part in the trojan war. when the greek forces were nearly destroyed, patroclus donned achilles' armor and pushed back the trojan forces while achilles remained at camp. before making it to troy, patroclus was slain by the trojan prince hector.

after hearing about the death of patroclus, achilles was enraged. he joined the battle and showed no mercy or hesitation when destroying trojan forces. achilles was searching for hector, and let nothing stand in his path. athena took the form of hector's brother and convinced him to stop running from achilles, who had been chasing him throughout troy. hector accepts his fate, but asks achilles to give his corpse respect. achilles refuses on account of the pain patroclus' death had caused him. after killing hector, achilles attaches his corpse to his chariot and drags him through the streets of troy.

the most accepted account of his death is that he was shot with an arrow by paris, a prince of troy. whether or not this was on his heel and whether or not thetis granted him near immortality is debatable. regardless, it is agreed upon that after his death his remains were united with his companion patroclus.

the relationship between achilles and patroclus is central to to any myth with a focus on achilles:

while the iliad doesn't go into detail about achilles and patroclus growing up together and building their relationship due to the limited time frame it covers, it is still evident that they were far more than friends. their love (however it be interpreted) ascended the physical world and persists through both of their deaths. the greatest warrior in greece being a man that loves men is incredibly powerful. achilles' love for a man, for patroclus, is what ended the trojan war. the significance of their relationship is why mlm identitify with the label achillean.

the information above is shortened and simplified to make it more accessible. if you'd like to gain a fuller knowledge of the subject then i encourage you to research it. please keep in mind the varying accounts of achilles' life and the biases and motives of different authors.

isn't achilles and patroclus' relationship pedophilic?

NO! achilles and patroclus were around the same age, though it is likely that patroclus is the older of the two. let's break down why this misconception exists:

homer, the author of the iliad, was born somewhere between 1200 BCE and 700 BCE. the trojan war spanned from 1260 BCE to 1180 BCE. achilles was a young adult at the time, according to homer, as was patroclus.

though the popularity of pederastic relationships during this era is unknown, their normalization and ultimate fetishization in later years caused the relationship of achilles and patroclus to be warped to fit that norm. 5th and 4th century greek writers and philosophers were the first to analyze the relationship in terms of "paiderastia".

trigger warning for the discussion of pedophilic relationships in greater detail, as this paragraph is going to explain pedestry and why it was held in such a high esteem: pedestry was founded on the relationship between an older man, usually in his mid-twenties or later, and a teen boy, usually and/or ideally prepubescent. the relationship was political, educational, and above all else sexual. the older man was denoted the erastes (protector) and the younger was the eromenos (beloved). it had no presence in homers works and is agreed upon by scholars to have arisen around the 7th century BCE. the popularity of pedestry was rooted in misogyny, as it framed the ideal relationship as one between men purely on the basis that women were lesser beings. it was also rooted in the definition of masculinity as power that one could hold over another.

the rise of pederastic relationships led to the stigmatization of healthy gay relationships.

because of pedestry's engrainment into greek society, relationships between men of the same age or status were no longer seen as socially acceptable. this was solidified by the romans, who equated submission and penetration to greek society. they gave their slaves greek names and prostitutes would either take them or be given them. masculinity would remain upheld so long as the roman took the dominate or penetrating role, regardless of who their victim was. for a relationship between men to exist outside of this format would mean that one or both of the involved parties would no longer be seen as masculine, and therefore no longer be roman. pedestry was no longer solely defined by the forceful oppression and subsequent exclusion of women, but also by the forceful oppression of anyone who did not fit the roman standard of masculinity.

the relationship between achilles and patroclus doesn't resemble a pederastic one whatsoever:

homer never applies the roles of the erastes or eromenos to achilles or patroclus. neither one of them is shown to wield any sort of physical power over the other, and any influence they had on each other was based around their deep trust, concern, and love for the other. while the fetishization of greek pedestry was applied to the relationship between achilles and patroclus in following greek eras definitely led to the misconception that their relationship was unhealthy, the more modern desire to paint gay men as predatory as a means of justifying homophobia should also be acknowledged.


arguments against the use of "achillean"

"the creator is a pedophile"

there is no one person who created the term "achillean" to describe m/nblm. this claim was likely given attention due to the common practice of generalizing all mlm as predatory in order to justify homophobia. the "creator" cannot be a pedophile, as there is not a singular creator.

the account pictured in the second screenshot has replied to many tweets about "achillean" claiming that the creator of the word is a pedophile and they know this because of having been mutuals with them. it's to be assumed that they're speaking about tumblr user @asculan/@semituring, but none of their tweets clarify who the "creator" is. the first screenshot was likely a result of the claims made by the second account, and there are many similar tweets making their rounds. don't believe everything that you see on the internet. if you see someone claiming something that you find suspicious, ask them about it and do your own research on the topic. it may have been true or based on fact, but this goes to show that that isn't true in every case.

an effort is being made to contact the person who allegedly knows the creator, and the carrd will be updated if more information is provided.

edit: a response has been received! here are the screenshots of our conversation.

the only information i could find on a tumblr account under the url "toosenbo" was from 2013, which as of 2020 was 7 years ago, not 2. the owner of that blog then moved to the url "vocajazz", where they stayed until around 2014.

the first available documentation of @asculan's blog is from 2015. while the blog isn't visible, it existed. in 2016 the blog can be seen. it's run by matty, who is 15 at the time. we know that ey have since moved to @semituring.

there is no information that links @semituring to @toosenbo / @vocajazz. for anyone who wants to search for it, click here for a trigger warning list surrounding the blog "asculan".

tl;dr, no. the creator of the term "achillean" is not a pedophile.

"achilles is a pedophile and/or rapist"

there is no historical document that states that achilles is a pedophile. oustide of the speculative analysis of achilles and patroclus' relationship at the hands of 5th-4th century BCE philosophers, there is no documentation that would even insinuate that achilles is a pedophile. click here to read about why the relationship was misconstrued as pederastic.

whether or not achilles is a rapist is a more difficult possibility to analyze. there are two possible accounts of achilles being a rapist. the story of achilles on skyros can be broken apart to be discussed more easily than the story of briseis, and will therefore be discussed first.

thetis, fearing for the life of her son after being informed that he would die in troy, took achilles to live with king lycomedes of skyros. during his time there he is disguised as a woman and lives alongside other young women, including the king's daughter deidamia. there are different versions of this story that showcase contrasting accounts of achilles and deidamia's affair. the most elaborate one to be found was written by a roman poet somewhere between 94 and 96 CE. if you still haven't read the section on pedestry, it goes into detail on how romans viewed relationships and the emphasis they put on masculinity. a man being with another man was only socially acceptable if the submissive party was a slave, preferably a young one. this is because being dominated was seen as emasculating, and masculinity was what defined the idenity of a roman man. for achilles to have been in a healthy relationship with another man would have been in direct opposition to the fact that he was the greatest warrior in all of greece. assuming the story of achilles in the trojan war is factual, it is highly, highly unlikely that this aspect (added to his story nearly 1300 years after the end of the trojan war) is as well. it's merely a reflection of the ancient roman desperation to uphold masculinity and to define it by one's ability to take from those who are weaker than them.

the story of briseis proves to be a sharp contrast to this. she is present in the iliad and has a very important, yet passive, role. the conflict that arises between achilles and agamemnon as a result of briseis' enslavement reenacts the trojan war on a smaller scale and in turn incorporates context that wasn't directly provided into the story. briseis, a prisoner of war who is treated like a trophy, is a legitimate substitute for helen not because the men who fought over her actually loved her but because regardless of any one relationship being good or any one woman being given respect misogyny was still a fundamental aspect of greek society. women were seen as objects, and the persistence of that idea throughout time alongside the rise of heteronormativity is what allowed and very likely exaggerated briseis' place in the iliad. a warrior's acquisition of material wealth is what determined his success in battle and moreover his status. for achilles, a greek hero that needed to make a name for himself, obtaining slaves/prisoners of war was one of the most important ways to build his cult. agamemnon taking briseis away from him was not only an attack on his pride, but an attack on his legacy. while achilles and agamemnon and other men in this story have meaningful, well written characters and human ambitions, briseis and the other women are used as plot devices. even thetis was written as the personification of selfless maternal love, only there to push achilles forward. briseis' grief over the death of patroclus is the grief of a widow and it foreshadows the death of achilles. her character and her place in the story are to give the audience a greater understanding of the trojan war along with the events that came before the brief timeframe the iliad covers and the events that will follow.

regardless of this interpretation, achilles sleeps besides two women in the iliad (that i know of, as someone who has yet to read it in its entirety). the first instance can be read as achilles and patroclus finding an excuse to spend the night together while still asserting their masculinity by saying they'd slept with women (book 9, 664). the second is achilles sleeping with briseis (book 24, 643). while it's obvious that describing achilles and briseis as laying beside each other insinuates a sexual relationship, there is room for interpretation of that night in a different way. this becomes especially apparent when briseis' lament over patroclus along with achilles' rage are both taken into account.

tl;dr: so is achilles a rapist? authors throughout history that were adamant to excuse rape and claim that by committing it a man was upholding his masculinity did everything they could to write him that way. based on a fair amount of research, the consumption of content written by people with many opposing ideas on this, and my own personal analysis of the text, the historical and social context, and the mythology itself: no. achilles is not a rapist.


"it's just copying sapphic"

achillean has been used to describe mlm relationships since at least 1959. the resurgence of a desire to identify under one word for the sake of promoting solidarity within the m/nblm community is not "copying" wlw. it doesn't harm wlw. it doesn't take away from wlw.

the experiences and histories of mlm and wlw are not the same. a lack of understanding on mlm history is not an excuse to vilify us when we want to use a term describe ourselves. your inability to understand that regardless of our similarities and differences, mlm/wlw solidarity is what holds the lgbt+ community together and provides a safe place for lgbt+ youth and/or lgbt+ people in dangerous situations to fall back on, will cause problems for all of us.

if you attack m/nblm over identifying as achillean because you can't see past the fact that both words have greek origins, you are homophobic.

final thoughts:

sources for the content of this section

the hyper analytical position taken by so many people within a debate of an lgbt+ exclusive term is nothing new. despite this, the extent of the hypocrisy unveiled during any controversy with this format is deeply unsettling. the rejection of this label, largely done by members of the community that aren't m/nblm, is grounded in blatant fabrications. to anyone who put in even minimal effort to better understand the label and the alleged issues with it, this would be clear. where are these masses when sapphic is used? sappho was a real woman, her poetry exists. it's believed she had relations with her students and is even under scrutiny whether or not cleis was her daughter or child lover. where are these masses when pansexual is used? the term originates from freud and was used to describe individuals attracted to everything, children, animals, and whatever-else included. its first documented use on the internet separates transgender people from our cisgender counterparts, stating that we're a different gender entirely. where are these masses when new labels are forced onto us as a replacement for "achillean", such as "vincian" and "wildean" and even "uranian"? leonardo da vinci is speculated as having been gay due to the young men he surrounded himself with. his pupils were introduced to his home one when he was 10 and da vinci was 38, the other when he was 14 and da vinci was 54. he was accused of committing sodomy with the first, but charges were dropped due to the anonymity of the accuser. oscar wilde met lord alfred douglas when he was 37 and douglas was 21, douglas' mother and douglas' selfishness being the cause of wilde's imprisonment. douglas was an outspoken anti-semite, having founded a right-wing, catholic, and anti-semitic magazine. the magazine is quoted as suggesting that "we need a klu klux klan in this country". having been in a relationship, however tumultuous, with this man, it's unsurprising that wilde's writing was engrained with anti-semitism. it isn't unlikely that the use of uranian stems from the use of wildean, as oscar wilde and alfred douglas were both part of the movement. the movement itself being to revive the practice of pedestry. it stressed that relationships between adolescent boys and significantly older men were the ideal, and only furthered the homophobic stereotype that gay men are predatory.

the issues with proposed replacement terms aside, which having been brought up so recently need to be examined for their flaws, the willfully ignorant opposition to achillean should read as just as incongruous and absurd as if i used the issues with sappho or pansexuality's origins to dismiss any modern use of the labels, if not moreso. sappho and freud are very real people. achilles is a mythological figure who's story has been warped and twisted throughout time to fit whatever societal standards were in need of being upheld.

to still find yourself in opposition to the use of "achillean" is to align yourself with the opposition of m/nblm as a whole. intracommunity debates shouldn't result in any of us siding with the oppressors of other members of the community, let alone our own oppressors.

achilleans are wearing our history on our sleeves. our love is something that has ascended the concepts of life and death. attempts to rewrite the relationship of achilles and patroclus have been fruitless since the rise roman empire. they will not succeed now.

do not bury my bones apart from yours, achilles,
but let them lie together, as we were raised in your house ...
so may the same vessel contain both our bones,
the golden amphora, which your lady mother gave you.

(Il. 23. 83-84, 91-92.)

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Trigger warnings:

-self harm
-suicide and suicidal thoughts
-discussion of transphobia
-discussion of trans discourse
-discussion of ace/aro discourse
-discussion general 2016 society and pop culture

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i've added these sources completely last minute after receiving criticism from certain people wishing to call themselves "uranian". (which has transphobic implications, severely anti-semetic associations, and has widepsread use only through the work of pedophile. which only further contributes to the harmful stereotype that mlm are predatory.) i may edit this to clean it up later, but for now let google be your friend. a substantial amount of information can be found is you'd just search for something, even if it wouldn't back your own beliefs.

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