The Song of Achilles Epub ↠ The Song PDF or

The Song of Achilles ❮Download❯ ✤ The Song of Achilles Author Madeline Miller – The legend begins

Greece in the age of heroes Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia to be raised in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Ac The legend beginsGreece in the age of heroes Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled The Song PDF or to the kingdom of Phthia to be raised in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles “The best of all the Greeks”—strong, beautiful, and the child of a goddess—Achilles is everything the shamed Patroclus is not Yet despite their differences, the boys become steadfast companions Their bond deepens as they grow into young men and become skilled in the arts of war and medicine—much to the displeasure and the fury of Achilles’ mother, Thetis, a cruel sea goddess with a hatred of mortalsWhen word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece, bound by blood and oath, must lay siege to Troy in her name Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows Little do they know that the Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrificeBuilt on the groundwork of the Iliad, Madeline Miller’s pageturning, profoundly moving, and blisteringly paced retelling of the epic Trojan War marks the launch of a dazzling career.

    The Song of Achilles Epub ↠ The Song PDF or the shamed Patroclus is not Yet despite their differences, the boys become steadfast companions Their bond deepens as they grow into young men and become skilled in the arts of war and medicine—much to the displeasure and the fury of Achilles’ mother, Thetis, a cruel sea goddess with a hatred of mortalsWhen word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece, bound by blood and oath, must lay siege to Troy in her name Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows Little do they know that the Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrificeBuilt on the groundwork of the Iliad, Madeline Miller’s pageturning, profoundly moving, and blisteringly paced retelling of the epic Trojan War marks the launch of a dazzling career."/>
  • ebook
  • 416 pages
  • The Song of Achilles
  • Madeline Miller
  • English
  • 08 October 2019
  • 9780062060631

About the Author: Madeline Miller

Madeline Miller was born in Boston and grew up in New York City and Philadelphia She The Song PDF or The Song PDF or attended Brown University, where she earned her BA and MA in Classics For the last ten years she has been teaching and tutoring Latin, Greek and Shakespeare to high school students She has also The Song of Achilles Epub The Song PDF or studied at the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought, and in the Dramaturgy department at Yale School of.

10 thoughts on “The Song of Achilles

  1. Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥ Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥ says:

    ”We were like gods, at the dawning of the world, and our joy was so bright we could see nothing else but the other.”

    This book!!!
    Gosh I loved this book!!!

    The moment I read the first page I was already certain of two things:
    1.) This would become one of my all-time favourites and I’d gush about it like crazy.
    2.) It wouldn’t only leave me devastated and heartbroken but also sobbing like a little child.

    Well, both of those things came true, even way earlier than I had initially anticipated. I was about 37% percent in (yes I looked it up! ;-P) when I first started to cry and it didn’t get any better after that. This book was just so beautiful! So, so damn beautiful! Madeline Miller definitely has a way with words and I loved how this story was written: Poetical with a lot of mythological facts and with so many details that it succeeded to make this a more than just intriguing journey.

    What I loved the most was how she managed to convey Achilles’ and Patroclus relationship though. Even though she never went into detail, never actually let them say that they loved each other; it was still palpable in every single moment they shared together. Those moments were so precious I couldn’t get enough of them and all I wanted was for them to be happy.

    Unfortunately I’m a little geek and know a lot about Greek mythology so yeah, I already knew how it would end before it even ended. Still, the sense of foreboding in this book!!! Oh gosh, it killed me!! All those little hints, those infinitesimal innuendos, those tiny insinuations, they piled up and up and up until all I was able to feel was dread!!! By the end of the book I was reduced to a sobbing and crying nervous wreck and the final sentence was like a dagger in my heart.

    In other words:
    This was exceptionally painful and utterly devastating,
    it was also so damn good and worth every second of pain!

    The characters:

    This is my spoiler section in which I’m going to speak about the individual characters and what I thought of them. So you better beware and don’t read it if you still want to read the book. Heed my warning or get lost in the underworld. It’s your choice, choose wisely! ;-P


    ’Ah.’ A sly smile spread across his face; he had always loved defiance. ‘Well, why should I kill him? He’s done nothing to me.’

    This sentence killed me when I first read it! Achilles, my beautiful, innocent and naïve boy!!! Jeez! I loved him so much! He was every bit the hero people believed him to be and most of the time he actually did the right thing. Well, most of the time. At the end of the book there happened a lot of things I didn’t agree with and the longer his conflict with Agamemnon lasted the more I dreaded the end! It made me so sad to see how much Achilles changed over the years and when the thing with Briseis happened my reaction was the same as Patroclus’! I mean I knew what Achilles did (I’m a geek remember?) but reading it the way Madeline Miller wrote it? Boy it destroyed me! There was this wonderful, perfect, righteous, honourable, intelligent, innocent and honest golden boy and then the war over Troy tainted him, transformed him and made him an entirely different person. The true tragedy about this all is that he never even wanted to take part in the war, he was more or less forced into it and I think looking at it in retrospective a life as a normal person would have been preferable to the one of a hero. I guess in the end Achilles saw it the same way and would have done everything in order to change his path. Even if it would have meant that he would have been forgotten and would have never become a legend… it would have been worth it. Patroclus would have been worth it… *cries*

    ”I stopped watching for ridicule, the scorpion’s tail hidden in his words. He said what he meant; he was puzzled if you did not. Some people might have mistaken this for simplicity. But is it not a sort of genius to cut always to the heart?”

    ”Your honour could be darkened by it.”
    “Then it is darkened.” His jaw shot forward, stubborn. “They are fools if they let my glory rise or fall on this.”
    “But Odysseus –“
    His eyes, green as spring leaves, met mine. “Patroclus. I have given enough to them. I will not give them this.”

    ”They grinned, loving every inch of their miraculous prince: his gleaming hair, his deadly hands, his nimble feet. They leaned towards him, like flowers to the sun, drinking in his lustre. It was as Odysseus had said: he had light enough to make heroes of them all.”

    ”It is not true. You left yourself today. And now you are returned.”
    His shoulders rise and fall on a long breath. “Do not say that,” he says, “until you have heard the rest of what I have done.”


    ”I went to Peleus. I knelt before him on a wool rug, woven bright with purple. He started to speak, but I was too quick for him. One of my hands went to clasp his knees, the other reached upward, to seize his chin with my hand. The pose of supplication. It was a gesture I had seen many times, but had never made myself. I was under his protection now; he was bound to treat me fairly, by the law of the gods.
    ‘Tell me where he is,’ I said.”

    I adored Patroclus! He was the best! He was wonderful and beautiful in his own way and I loved how faithful he was. That boy was one of the kindest and sweetest people I ever read about (tough competition for Lazlo Strange *lol*) and I was so happy Achilles saw this too. He realized that Patroclus is special and he encouraged him to speak his mind. It felt like Patroclus was Achilles’ conscience, intervening whenever his divine heritage showed. Without Patroclus Achilles path would have been dark and bloody but with him at his side he became the glorious figure we all know about. Patroclus was so much more than just a companion. He was a friend, a lover, a teacher, a conscience, a reminder and Achilles past, present and future! This boy was literally the embodiment of Achilles life and actions and the people around them were fools for not seeing their strong connection. Patroclus was everything that was good about Achilles, he brought out the best in him. Taught him compassion and love, he was an anchor and someone he could come home to! Speak to! Confide in! Once Patroclus was gone the relentless godly part of Achilles showed though and the rest of it is (bloody) history. T_T

    ’Patroclus.’ It was the name my father had given me, hopefully but injudiciously, at my birth, and it tasted of bitterness on my tongue. ‘Honour of the father,’ it meant.

    ”Perhaps she thought I was mocking her, flourishing my triumph. Perhaps she thought I hated her. She did not know that I almost asked him, a hundred times, to be a little kinder to her. You do not have to humiliate her so thoroughly, I thought. But it was not kindness he lacked, it was interest. His gaze passed over her as if she were not here.”

    ’Willl you come with me?’ he asked.
    The never-ending ache of love and sorrow. Perhaps in some other life I could have refused, could have torn my hair and screamed, and made him face his choice alone. But not in this one. He would sail to Troy and I would follow, even into death.
    Yes, I whispered. Yes.

    ”I do not know this man, I think. He is no one I have ever seen before. My rage towards him is hot as blood. I will never forgive him. I imagine tearing down our tent, smashing the lyre, stabbing myself in the stomach and bleeding to death. I want to see his face broken with grief and regret. I want to shatter the cold mask of stone that has slipped down over the boy I knew. He has given her to Agamemnon knowing what will happen.”


    ”May I give you some advice? If you are truly his friend you will help him leave his soft heart behind. He’s going to Troy to kill men, not rescue them.” His dark eyes held me like swift-running current. “He is a weapon, a killer. Do not forget it. You can use a spear as a walking stick, but that will not change its nature.”

    Damn, how much I hated and liked that sneaky and cunning bastard!! I’m still very torn when it comes to him. On the one hand he gave sound advice and knew exactly what he did and on the other hand he forced Achilles on his destined path. If it wouldn’t have been for Odysseus he would have never gone to Troy and even though I agree with his sentiment that Achilles could save them all, I still disagree with the way he played him. Of all the countless men that manipulated young Achilles, Odysseus probably was the worst, hiding behind the mask of a friend but ultimately pursuing his own goals. Clever! Very clever indeed!


    ”Then you are a traitor to this army, and will be punished like one. Your war prizes are hostage, placed in my care until you offer your obedience and submission. Let us start with that girl. Briseis, is her name? She will do as a penance for the girl you have forced me to return.”

    I HATE AGAMEMNON!!! Fiercely!!! Such an unfair and dishonourable numpty!!! I hate him and all his actions! I mean what kind of father would trade his daughter away and then kill her?! His own flesh and blood! Gosh, I CAN’T EVEN WITH HIM!! I’m still so angry! Those moments at the end and the tense situation between Achilles and him had me at the edge of my seat and all I wanted to do was to scream at the injustice that took place in front of me!!! Such a stubborn and self-righteous fool!! He should have listened to Achilles but he was too proud to. *shakes head in disbelief* I. HATE. HIM!!! Enough said!


    Another person that landed on my shit list! *lol* I really, really disliked her too! I mean I understand that she was Achilles mother and only wanted the best for her son, but it was more than just obvious that the best was Patroclus and I hated her for always trying to drive a wedge between them! Without Thetis half of their troubles wouldn’t have even existed and even though she kind of redeemed herself in the end I still don’t like her! Sorry Thet, but you’ll never get a thumbs-up from me! #SorryNotSorrry

    The relationship:

    Achilles & Patroclus:

    ”This morning he had leaped on to my bed and pressed his nose against mine. ‘Good morning,’ he’d said. I remembered the heat of him against my skin.”

    Ohh how sweet those two were! I loved their relationship! They were so gentle and adorable and no matter what happened and no matter how many obstacles were in their way they always managed to find back to each other! They had confidence in each other and they supported each other regardless of the consequences. Achilles and Patroclus had such an honest and beautiful relationship, I CAN’T EVEN!!!! THIS was the real deal!!! A connection so deep that no one could destroy it, a love so strong that it cast aside all obstacles, their trust so deep that they could talk about everything!!! Boy, I could gush about this relationship at eye level for eternity and still would never get tired of it! *lol* I just adore them so much! It was so sweet they couldn’t even be angry with each other and even though Patroclus wasn’t always happy with Achilles decisions, he still did his best to support him as best as he could, even if that meant that he had to go against his will. I think in the end their unconditional love for each other was the only thing that was able to break them and it eventually did. Jeez! How it did! *cries again* Achilles had no reason to kill Hector, no reason to fulfil the prophecy. Well, at least not until Hector took the only thing that mattered to him, the only thing he didn’t want to live without. Patroclus! *sobs* Hell! The way Achilles grieved!!! It broke my freaking heart!!! It was like a punch in the gut! I know first-hand how much this hurts, how painful it is to lose a person you love so much, and boy did it trigger my emotions. T_T I felt Achilles grief with him and it was so intense it left me crying and sobbing. They were so beautiful together… so, so, so damn beautiful. I can’t anymore… *weeps*

    ”I saw then how I had changed. I did not mind any more, that I lost when we raced and I lost when we swam out to the rocks and I lost when we tossed spears or skipped stones. For who can be ashamed to lose to such beauty? It was enough to watch him win, to see the soles of his feet flashing as they kicked up sand, or the rise and fall of his shoulders as he pulled through the salt. It was enough.”

    ”My pulse jumps, for no reason I can name. He has looked at me a thousand times, but there is something different in this gaze, an intensity I do not know. My mouth is dry, and I can hear the sound of my throat as I swallow.
    He watches me. It seems that he is waiting.”

    ”His eyes were unwavering, green flecked with gold. A certainty rose in me, lodged in my throat. I will never leave him. It will be this, always, for as long as he will let me.”

    ”Had she really thought I would not know him? I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell, I would know him blind, by the way his breaths came and his feet struck the earth. I would know him in death, at the end of the world.”

    ”You can’t.” He was sitting up now, leaning forward.
    “I can’t.”
    “I know. They never let you be famous and happy.” He lifted an eyebrow. “I’ll tell you a secret.”
    “Tell me.” I loved it when he was like this.
    “I’m going to be the first.” He took my palm and held it to him. “Swear it.”
    “Why me?”
    “Because you’re the reason. Swear it.”
    “I swear it,” I said, lost in the high colour of his cheeks, the flame in his eyes.
    “I swear it,” he echoed.

    ”There was more to say, but for once we did not say it. There would be other times for speaking, tonight and tomorrow and all the days after that. He let go of my hand.”

    All told this was one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. It caused me to cry, it made me angry, it made me smile and it touched me deeply. I’m a total mess after reading this and my emotions are still all over the place, to say I regret reading it would be one hell of a lie though.

    I rarely write this into my reviews but: If you haven’t read this, do it now!!! You won’t regret it! =)

    Last but not least I want to thank my Sweet Sugar Bun who dared to buddy read this book with me! Thank you for all the comments, messages and updates that made it bearable to read this book. I swear if you wouldn’t have discussed this with me I would have cried even more often than I already did. *lol* So yeah, thanks for that wonderful buddy read and for keeping my sanity intact. I really appreciate it! XD We definitely should go for another buddy read some time soon! I heard “Circe” is a nice book too! *lol* ;-P

    In the darkness, two shadows, reaching through the hopeless, heavy dusk. Their hands meet, and light spills in a flood, like a hundred golden urns pouring out the sun.”


  2. Sean Barrs Sean Barrs says:

    Madeline Miller did what the movie producers of the film Troy (2004) were too cowardly to do; she stayed true to the homosexuality of Homer’s Iliad rather than writing a censored version of the story which stank of homophobia. Achilles and Patroclus were passionately in love, which resulted in their respective destructions. They were not cousins or man at arms, but soul mates. The watering down of this in the film Troy was an insult to the LGBT community. Nothing more. Nothing less.

    The attraction between these two men wasn’t something that was rushed and squandered. It was built up, ever so slowly, and delivered eloquently. The two were friends from boyhood, and Patroclus was enamoured by Achilles after just one glance. He didn’t want to be parted from him. The two grew up together, they fought together, they learnt together and they developed together. They became inseparable and reliant on each other. Their sexual relationship just matured as they did it; it was the most natural thing in the world.

    Like all relationships, there were issues. The two weren’t without their differences. They clashed and quarrelled but only because they truly cared for each other. Patroclus wanted to end the war, and Achilles didn’t think the fight was worthy of his name: he wanted a bigger war to fight in. So, Patroclus, in his most bravest and stupid move goes against his lover’s wish and tries to end the war with a stroke of his sword. But he is no Achilles: he is not a god of war. He was out of his depth, outmatched and doomed.

    It could only end in tragedy


    - Achilles Laments the Death of Patroclus 1767.

    I’ve not included a spoiler warning because everybody knows the story of Homer’s Iliad. Well, at least, I hope they do! Following the traditional narrative arc, Achilles goes on a mad rampage to avenge the death of his beloved. In the process he simultaneously destroys and immortalises himself. He got what he wanted, but not in the way he wanted it. I love the way the author wrote this, I could really feel the desperate rage of an Achilles who had lost the only thing that mattered to him in the world.

    I’m so glad the author didn’t deviate from the suggestions of homosexuality that were present in Homer’s writing. This would have failed dramatically had she done so. There would have been no power, and, again, like the film Troy it would have been abysmal. The romance plot in here is one of the truest and believable I’ve read to date: it was strong and real. However, this is not to downplay the other aspects of the story. It is driven by romance, but it is not defined by it. There is also a story of growth, and the story of warrior who is out to prove his strength and honour in a world driven by war. He just happens to like guys.

    A strong four stars

    p.s- I’ve purposely avoided images of the movie Troy in this review. Anybody who has seen it and read this book really shouldn’t be putting the two side by side, at least, not if they want to make their review fair. One is an insult to the story, the other a novelisation of a timeless classic.


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  3. Rick Riordan Rick Riordan says:

    A new take on the Iliad, written by a high school classics teacher -- how could I not read this? The Song of Achilles retells the story of Greece's greatest hero from the point of view of his best friend Patroclus. The big twist: Madeline Miller casts the story as a romance between Achilles and Patroclus. While staying true to Greek legends and the works of Homer, Miller creatively and convincingly fills in the blanks, giving Patroclus a back story that makes perfect sense, and tracing the friendship, and eventual romance, between the two young men in a way that casts a new light on the human side of the Trojan War.

    I always found Achilles to be an unsympathetic character -- a brat, a bully, a big-headed jerk who knows he's the star player on the team and throws a tantrum if he gets put on the bench. Miller shows his unattractive qualities, but she also shows that Achilles is human. He's capable of love. He's deeply conflicted. He has a sense of humor and a gentle side. We see him through Patroclus's eyes, growing from a privileged child to a sensitive teen to a young man struggling to balance his personal feelings with the expectations of an entire country. If you've read the Iliad, you know that the story will have a tragic end, but it's also strangely uplifting and hopeful. I'll never be able to read about these characters the same way again, and that's a good thing. Reading The Song of Achilles put a new light on this ancient story. It was like watching a really good interpretation of a Shakespeare play. You think you know the story, but you're surprised to find how many layers of new meaning can be brought out by a smart production.

    The book is certainly appropriate for YA and up. The prose is elegant in its simplicity. Miller gives Patroclus a Hemmingway-like directness. I read a New York Times review of this book which I thought patently unfair, complaining that the style made the book seem like a fast-food version of the Iliad. I think this misses the whole point of the story. Patroclus's mission in The Song of Achilles is to cut through the legend of the hero and show us the mortal side of demigod. He doesn't want the pompous metaphors and flowery hyperbole of a war epic to bury Achilles's other qualities -- his tenderness, his insecurity, his honesty and lack of guile. The Song of Achilles can serve as an excellent introduction or counterpoint to the study of the Iliad. It certainly made the story new and vibrant for me, despite how many times I've read Homer.

  4. Cristina Monica Cristina Monica says:

    I feel so much. And perhaps my emotions are not my own this time? Madeline Miller for sure implanted them deep inside of me, without my consent, and now I'm urging her to withdraw them, or I will not be able to sleep through the night.

    It took me a month to read this book, as I needed to take multiple breaks during the experience that is ‘‘The Song of Achilles.’’ I was about to curse the lyricism for welling too many emotions inside my body, too often, and therefore thwarting my reaching the ending in less than a month, but then I discovered that it took the author ten years to write this book, so my unreasonable annoyance subsided, ha-ha.

    Dear readers, brace yourself as you open the first page. This is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It certainly is grander than I expected it to be, and the love story a thousand times more poignant. Plus, since I had no prior knowledge of Achilles’ bloody story, this was all the more surprising to me. And now I crave mythology like I crave book mail.

    Patroclus deserves to become a Greek god, although that was never his fate. What I mean by that is that he is compassionate, brave, strong, wise and worth hailing – every quality I believe a god should possess. Achilles, on the other hand, however mortal he may be and so prone to weakness of judgement and power, is harder to connect with. But he is impressive and, ultimately, good, that’s for sure.

    I am pleased to have read this book, because now I can discuss about the book and the two very discussable characters – Achilles and Patroclus – that make this story so formidable. I cannot wait to hear the thoughts of everyone in my entourage that has read it.

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  5. jessica jessica says:

    ‘we were like gods at the dawning of the world, and our joy was so bright we could see nothing else but the other.’

    i must be a masochist because i can think of no other reason to endure the emotional and stunning pain of this story for a third time. but here i am. crying for my sweet, sweet patroclus. the best of men. the best of the myrmidons. <3

    its been nearly 12 hours since i finished this and i still am at a loss for words at the beauty of this book. i dont think i have ever read anything as gorgeous as this and nothing i write will even come close to describing its loveliness. truly, a touching masterpiece. and i will forever be singing its praises until the end of my days.

    ↠ every star, to give patroclus his own constellation

  6. Kat Kat says:

    okay oKAY i get the hype

  7. megs_bookrack megs_bookrack says:

    I hereby award all the stars in the universe to Madeline Miller's, The Song of Achilles. Charming and enchanting!

    I knew nothing about it going in, besides the fact that it is based off events in Homer's, The Illiad.

    Despite the fact that I took 4-years of Latin in high school, I couldn't tell you the first thing about The Illiad.

    I was completely floored by the absolute beauty of this story, which centers around the love between Achilles and Patroclus.

    Admittedly, I am not an avid romance reader. Oftentimes, the romance will be my least favorite aspect of a given story, but for some reason, this one struck me straight in the feels.

    There was something so pure and confident in their love.

    They were loyal, brave and kind to one another in a way that had me reaching for the tissues instead of choking down my mirth.

    I just knew from my level of attachment that this one wasn't going to end well for me. I was fully anticipating to end up as a puddle on the floor.

    I was overwhelmed by the intensity of feeling this story was able to elicit from my cold, dark heart.

    The Ice Queen hath melteth.

    If you are considering reading this yourself, for whatever reason, I cannot recommend the audiobook enough.

    This narrator absolutely nailed the feeling of the story. His voices for all characters was just so expressive and was always recognizable for who he was portraying at the time.

    In particular, his voice when speaking as Achilles, straight up Chris Hemsworth. Honestly, not a bad picture to have in mind whilst listening to a book.

    To sum it all up:


    The world would indeed be a better place if this book were required reading. I honestly believe that.

  8. Navessa Navessa says:

    Achilles. Who was he if not miraculous, and radiant? Who was he if not destined for fame?

    Reading this is like reading Romeo and Juliet. We all know the story. We all know the outcome. We all know that our desperate prayers for someone, anyone to step in and save these characters from themselves will fall on deaf ears.

    Gods. What a bloody trainwreck. Even though I knew how it was going to end, I was not prepared for how much I cared.

    This is the story of the fall of Troy. Or rather, a part of it. More specifically, this is the tale of Achilles and Patroclus. Of their undying love for each other. Of the lives they sacrifice on the altar of that love. Of desperate men and petty gods. Of a proud, greedy people engaged in a prolonged, bloody war.

    So often in historical fiction from this time period I see the sharp edges of the Ancient Greek and Roman cultures smoothed away. I see slaves treated well and women given a voice. I'm happy to say there was none of that bullshittery here. Miller paints the pages of this book in blood and suffering. It is awash with pain and brutality. As it should be. Because historical accuracy.

    But, it means that this book is not for everyone. There is a lot of sexism, misogyny, violence, bloodshed, and rape, mentioned almost offhand, because, to these characters, this behavior is commonplace. Expected. I didn't like a single one of them. And not just because of their worldviews. There was Achilles and his hubris. Patroclus and his uselessness. Thetis and her coldness. I didn't even like Odysseus and his famous wit, for there was an edge to it in this book that made him seem less charming and more manipulative than I remember.

    That said, as much as I disliked these characters, I loved their stories. Miller took gods and legends and brought them to life within the pages of this book. She humanized these mythical beings in a way that made them seem real, fallible.

    I just...I cannot say enough about this book. To me, this is literature at its finest. A beautifully written, masterfully crafted story capable of transporting readers within its pages, so enchanting them with what they find within that they forget that the real world lurks without, waiting for their return.

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  9. Jeffrey Keeten Jeffrey Keeten says:

    ”He was a marvel, shaft after shaft flying from him, spears that he wrenched easily from broken bodies on the ground to toss at new targets. Again and again I saw his wrist twist, exposing its pale underside, those flute-like bones thrusting elegantly forward. My spear sagged forgotten to the ground as I watched. I could not even see the ugliness of the deaths anymore, the brains, the shattered bones that later I would wash from my skin and hair. All I saw was his beauty, his singing limbs, the quick flickering of his feet.”


    Madeline Miller studied Latin and Ancient Greek from Brown University and even more interestingly studied at the Yale School of Drama, specializing in adapting classical tales for a modern audience. I ignored this book when it first came out because I had read The Iliad twice and plan to read it many more times if the Gods grant me enough time to do so. A reimagining of Homer’s words? There is enough debate over translations of the original source documentation without adding in additional controversy over Miller’s interpretation of events.

    Or so I thought.

    After all, aren’t these books designed for a “modern audience” who will never even attempt to read Homer? I am not the target audience, as there is very little modern about me. I have ancient book dust permanently lodged in my lungs. I cough, and the air is redolent with the scent of decaying leather and the intoxicating smell of the slightly hallucinatory book fungi. Miller is doing good work, though, bringing Homer to life for a new generation. Her books are not for me.

    Or so I thought.

    When her book Galatea came out, I barely even flinched. A mild flickering of interest, but I was up to my eyeballs in books to read so I easily dissuaded myself from giving it much thought. Deciding to read Galatea would also mean that I would need to read Song of Achilles first because I do believe that books by serious authors build upon one another. I wasn’t taking Miller serious...yet. Part of my resistance came from the fact that I’m not a big fan of Achilles. He might have been ”The Greatest Warrior of his Generation,” but I didn’t find him very heroic. Now Hector, poor doomed Hector, to me he was the hero of The Iliad. I didn’t really want to read a book glorifying Achilles and how effortless it was for him to kill a hundred Trojans in one lazy, bloody afternoon.

    Or so I thought.

    The lovely and talented Madeline Miller.

    I fully expected Miller to fade back into the woodwork of academia, but then this year she published Circe. With one raised Nadalesque eyebrow, I thought to myself, now Circe is someone I don’t know nearly enough about. The five star reviews started raining down on me like thunderbolts from the fingers of Zeus. Cupid shot a quiver full of arrows at me, piercing me in numerous appendages until I looked like Saint Sebastian. If I could have gotten my hands on that pink tinted, chubby, precocious toddler, I’d have turned him over my knee and paddled him with his own bow. Really, I must confess that my new found love for Achilles, Patroclus, Briseis, Chiron, Odysseus, and even Madeline Miller herself could be the result of those love poison tipped arrows. Regardless, does it matter the reason why?

    Even in an addled state, there is no way I would ever confuse great writing for poorly conceived writing. As I was reading through my notes and savoring favorite passages again, now that Cupid’s fog has cleared from my mind, I must say Miller is a wonderful, lyrical writer.

    It all begins with a rape. The Greek Gods want to reward Peleus for being such a good subject and decide that he should be given a sea nymph named Thetis as his bride. ”It was considered their highest honor. After all, what mortal would not want to bed a goddess and sire a son from her? Divine blood purified our muddy race, bred heroes from dust and clay. And this goddess brought a greater promise still: the Fates had foretold that her son would far surpass his father. Peleus’ line would be assured. But, like all the gods’ gifts, there was an edge to it; the goddess herself was unwilling.”

    The Gods whisper in his ear. Don’t even bother trying to woo her with kelp flowers, Aquaoir Ocean aged wine, or shrimp cocktail. The Greek Gods, being rampant assaulters of unsuspecting, pink cheeked, mortal maidens, have no compunction about advocating rape. Jump her on the beach, take her, and make her thine!

    The Greek Islands are lousy with half Gods. You will meet many of them in the course of this story. Achilles is the greatest of them all. Greater than Hercules. His chosen companion is Patroclus, the disgraced and banished son of a king, an odd choice in many eyes as the closest friend of the greatest warrior. Patroclus is, after all, rather unremarkable at...well...everything. It doesn’t matter, though, because Achilles is good enough at everything for the both of them.

    Thetis is rather annoyed at his choice. She doesn’t feel that Patroclus is good enough to spend so much time with her son. Her favorite greeting for Patroclus is: ”You will be dead soon enough.” With Patroclus being the narrator of this story, it is rather poor judgement on her part. Any quest I’ve been on I have always plied the narrator with honeyed wine and the most succulent figs in the hope that I would be rewarded in the prose and poetry of his/her telling of the tale.

    Achilles and Patroclus by Barry J.C. Purves

    Homer skates around the closeness between Achilles and Patroclus, although much can be read between the lines. There is also the possibility that some homophobic Christian hundreds of years later made some deft corrections to the original, obscuring any overt reference to a homosexual relationship. Homer may have been blind, but his ears must have heard the rustling of the reed mats whether he was an “eye” witness to the Trojan War or an interpreter of events many years later. Madeline Miller wades into the sweaty bedsheet truth of the matter, and yes, the Greatest Warrior to ever live is light in his sandals.

    Miller puts flesh on these ancient bones, Gods and mortals alike, and brings a freshness to one of our most venerated stories. Though I resisted, it turns out that Madeline Miller was writing these books for me. She has also given me a burning desire to read The Iliad again while her interpretation is still imprinted so deeply in my mind. I have a feeling my reading experience will be deepened and her observations will glow like phosphorus between the lines.

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  10. Victoria Schwab Victoria Schwab says:


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