Thomas Banks Thetis dipping Achilles into the River Styx

Thomas Banks
Thetis dipping Achilles into the River Styx 1790

V&A Images / Victoria and Albert Museum

This sculpture shows Achilles, the hero of Homer’s Greek epic The Iliad, as an infant, being dipped in the river Styx by his mother, Thetis. The waters made him invulnerable, apart from the small area on his heel where Thetis holds him, hence the phrase, ‘Achilles’ heel’. The head of Thetis is a portrait of Jane, the wife of Thomas Johnes (1748–1816), who commissioned this sculpture. The head of Achilles is that of their baby daughter, Mariamne.