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Date Posted: 00:37:04 03/19/21 Fri
Author: Jake!! (Happy)
Subject: Book Recommendation: Song of Achilles
Wanted to stop by and give another recommendation for a really awesome book: Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. This is a retelling of the Iliad from the perspective of Achilles' lover.
The writing is extremely accessible and the characterization is amazing. I can't tell if the writing level makes this a Young Adult novel or not, I think it would have been an amazing find on the library shelf whenever I was a teenager discovering my sexuality. I mean, they really tend to leave out in school that one of the oldest stories of all time hinges on the relationship between Achilles and his Patroclus.
I don't know how much I say since I'm recommending a book to you and I don't want to spoil it even though the story is about three thousand years old, Miller's retelling not withstanding of course.
Despite the tragedy inherent to the Iliad and Achilles (He's a Greek Hero, hello!), this is not a sad story. The ending lifted my heart with tears of joy and I think it is really cool that Achilles and Patroclus are immortalized to history and myth. Inspiring Alexander the Great who saw himself in the role of Achilles and his soul mate Hephastion who saw himself as Patroclus.
(Of course unlike in Homer's amazing story, Alexander and Hephastion do not have quite as glorious an ending since they were real people who die real, messy deaths.)
This is a fascinating and extremely touching version of the story and it is well worth you reading.
Achilles, the great Greek Hero and coolest of the Ancient Greeks loved Patroclus and the events of the Iliad hinge upon this fact. This is so COOL. Why don't they teach us this in school?
I mean yeah sure its a bit controversial, the Ancient Greeks argued about whether Achilles and Patroclus were just friends or whether they were an example of romantic love. Aristotle for example would have very much hated the school of thought that saw Achilles and Patroclus as anything more than friends.
Earlier philosophers like Socrates probably saw them in a romantic light.
I personally think the subtext is too much to be just a brotherly friendship. According to mythology when Achilles and Patroclus eventually die and are buried, their ashes are mingled in a single golden urn! So great was their love for one another. In the translation by Samuel Butler, Achiles calls Patroclus "true heart".
Imagine the straights arguing about this in their Classics classrooms for the last several thousand years. "Nah bro listen, its totally not gay bro you just don't understand." :D
Please, please give this a read! The romance as Miller writes it is so touching and there are sex scenes too which I'm sure people will like.
This was my primer read as I continue to read up on Greek History. I've moved on now to reading Mary Renault's Fire from Heaven about Alexander the Great.
The books flow into each other really well given that Alexander's favorite book of all time was the Iliad. (He actually slept with it under his pillow.) Alexander admired and looked up to Achilles.
Thanks for reading my history fiction gush! Now I'll get the towels because the gush got over everything, whoopsie!
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