The Song of Achilles was such an amazing novel. I went in knowing very little – only that it was the story of Patroclus and Achilles told from Patroclus’ point of view.
The book begins with Patroclus witnessing the Greek kings signing a treaty to help each other in the event of a war. But after he is at fault for a death, he is disowned and sent to live in Phthia, Achilles home. He and Achilles develop a close relationship and are trained by Chiron before they are called home to fight in the war against the Trojans. During the war, Achilles and Patroclus struggle to maintain their relationship. Anyone who knows about the war of Troy will know the story ends, which is quite heartbreaking and sad.
Acknowledging the romantic relationship between Patroclus and Achilles throughout The Song of Achilles is unavoidable. It made it all the better that this isn’t just the reimagining of a classic tail by Madeline Miller. Apparently, Patroclus and Achilles were sometimes referred to as having an intimate relationship and sometimes as being platonic close friends. From what I learned, in Greek antiquity, it was not uncommon for men to have sexual (and possibly romantic) relationships together, and there were even two words for a couple who would be really loyal together, but Christian norms during the Middle Ages basically suppressed mentions of a homosexual relationship between Patroclus and Achilles. You can learn more about it here.
I love how The Song of Achilles made me rethink the relationship that I had been taught between Achilles and Patroclus, especially because it added so much to the story for me to realize how they would die for each other and added a layer of complexity I hadn’t thought about before. Plus, it was amazing to learn about something that was actually based in history because I was able to learn something about history at the same time. And as (amazing) bonus points, I love the representation that same sex relationships are afforded in books like The Song of Achilles, because feeling like you can never see yourself in the characters you read about or watch sucks.
The Song of Achilles is one of those books where, the second you put it down, you want to pick it back up and read it all over again. I guess I’ll have to try to read other books, but if you feel like this, I would like to recommend reading Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe as an amazing follow up novel.
Source for the fan art Menoitides.Tumblr.com
|Title||The Song of Achilles|
|Genre(s)||Young Adult, Fantasy, Greek Mythology|
|August 28, 2012|