The Song of Achilles review
The Song of Achilles, The book follows the trojan war and it more specifically follows the relationship between Achilles who is like the hero of the trojan mall right he is like the greek ancient greek hero even um if anybody knows any greek heroes.
The Song of Achilles
by Madeline Miller
It will be achilles so it follows him and his best friend forward slash lover forward slash uh just whatever companion right that’s another one they use Patroclus. patroclus is oftentimes forgotten whenever we retell about the trojan war or whatever patroclus for some reason people are just like oh who and so i appreciate that madeline miller wanted to tell the story from patrick lester’s point of view and so we see from patrick’s and achilles kids from you know when they meet and all of this to them being shipped off to troy to then uh existing in the camps the greek camps at troy during the trojan war and subsequently their mythological deaths.
so that’s the story it’s just the story of really patrick’s life but it’s really about sort of the trojan war how that came to be through the eyes and through the relationship of these two characters. now before i get into my views there are a couple of things that i think are really important to highlight for you guys maybe you guys don’t know this maybe you guys are just big fans of the books maybe you haven’t even read the book and you’re still deciding if you should read the book which i would recommend for enjoyability you just should because the book is so enjoyable as a whole but there are some classical and ancient history things.
that you guys should probably know before or maybe after in order to reflect on this book number one is that actually men sleeping with men in the ancient world was totally normal and it’s why they didn’t have a word for this because marriage the structure of marriage was different and so therefore men wouldn’t marry other men but it was very very normal and expected for men to sleep with other men.
let me explain that so marriage in the ancient world was not about love. marriage in the ancient world was about producing children in order to carry on your family line like that was the most important thing that lineage that that continuing the family name all of that was incredibly important to the ancient world. it had to do with inheritance and all that as well positions of power uh you know power dynamics between families as well all of this was very important for marriage and love was.
was really not important whatsoever like if you happen to love your partner after getting married that was just like a bonus but the majority of couples that we have from the ancient world hate each other to put it lightly. a good example of a mythological couple who did love each other is um penelope and odysseus from the trojan war cycle but they’re the only one pretty much from that cycle who actually genuinely fell in love.
right the rest of them tried to naturally agamemnon we hate each other mentally and helen i mean they got on but like was he totally in love with her the whole trojan war was really about pride more so than i love helen and i want her back because i love her so much it was mainly you know them being like well i’m a man another man can’t steal from me.
so the structure of marriage is different now women would get married very young men would get married much older and so therefore men during that period as well as sleeping with slaves and everything before they got married they would sleep with other men there was this whole it’s kind of complicated to get into so i’m not really going to get into the whole nitty gritty of it but if you guys want to know more i will be linking a lot of different things in the description below.
now because of this sexuality was different in the ancient world that it wasn’t at least the ancient greek world. that this is what i’m talking about right now obviously with the church more we’re talking about the ancient greek world rome is a little bit different but in regards to the ancient greek world sexuality was was different it wasn’t straight and gay it was everybody had sex with whoever the hell they wanted to until you got married so if you wanted to marry a man that wasn’t going to happen because marrying a man could not give you children if you were another man right you keep sleeping with him nobody gave it you could literally have sex with him forever.
No one would bad knight so that’s an important thing for you guys to understand before we actually dive into my views of this book because the relationship between patroclus and achilles would not have been like taboo right it would not have been a big deal among the other men of the camp it would not have been a big deal to the people hearing the story like that would have been if they were there are no like explicit scenes in uh the iliad or in other mythology that we have at least um nowadays that we can read.
because a lot of it is lost none of it is explicit that they were like definitely hooking up but it’s it’s pretty it’s pretty obvious that they probably were like achilles literally wails when he dies sounds like love to a lot of people so you know the other points aren’t actually that important i’m just going to link them in the description below. this story you guys know that i’m a huge fan of the iliad that like those are my boys like all of those heroes all of those trojan war heroes i’m obsessed with them and i’m obsessed with the book.
i’ve read it a hundred thousand times i’ve read the odyssey a hundred thousand times and so um and so everything that i’m about to say is just coming from the ancient source material and comparing it to that rather than me just trying to be a that’s not a good way to start this but let’s just overall though i loved this book as i said. that it’s very very enjoyable so i read it very quickly and i really loved it i thought the story was really compelling.
i thought that the writing that miller’s writing is just so like enchanting it’s so lyrical that literally i couldn’t put it down i was completely completely obsessed with it i thought she did achilles really well i thought her portrayal of achilles was fantastic because he is very much a man of few words until he gets angry and then he does explode as we see in the book that he just completely like is just so irrational and that’s just so achilles and it’s so true to who achilles is in the original mythology as well so i really appreciated that and i love that she included other characters in there like odysseus was done amazing. uh diameters obviously that’s my boy okay that is like my favorite character ever she had him in here and she had him do great.
i did think sometimes he spoke a little bit too much but i was just like screw it i don’t mind because diameters isn’t it so he can speak as much as little as he wants his name is that but in saying all of that this is so hard for me to say because i know that everyone’s going to jump down my throat as soon as i say it i didn’t like patroclus in this book now hear me out hear me out before you guys start jumping down my throat let me explain and let me do it in detail so patroclus in this book as you guys know obviously if you guys have read it and if not then i’m gonna spoil it.
but patrick was in this version of the story is not a fighter in fact he’s quite gentle he you know hangs out with achilles all the time and achilles brings him to the trojan war however he doesn’t really fight he stays in the camp the majority of the time he stays with the women um he very much is sort of for lack of a better phrase i’m sorry he kind of becomes like a housewife he kind of just stays in the camp and waits for achilles to come back and tell him about his day and that even though it works for the story and i don’t mind patrick was in this story it’s not who patroclus was in mythology and i love patroclusive mythology.
it’s so hard not to like patchouli’s mythology is a terrifying he’s so scary you guys like he’s supposed to be he’s like second to achilles in in fighting among the murderers not among all of the greeks but among the moments he’s second to achilles he’s so tough like he craves ward just as much as achilles does and so i really didn’t i didn’t like how he just never became a fighter in this book. i was kind of expecting it to happen i didn’t mind that he started off as not a fighter i was like he’s a kid whatever. but the fact that he never really learned and he never really lent into that i just i didn’t get it and i didn’t really like that whole way that patroclus was done because i don’t see a problem with patrick’s being scary and still being with a kid like.
like i don’t see the issue there do you understand what i’m saying that like achilles being tough and patrick was being really soft i don’t know why patrick’s couldn’t be tough as well in order for them to still come together and to still love each other you know they do it in the original mythology so i don’t know why they couldn’t do it in this version and because patroclus is so soft in this version of the story and then he becomes a hero like he’s literally like the most average person that becomes a great hero that there are certain things that had to be changed in order for patrick lewis’s character to then work um on the time frame of the trojan war in this book so the most notable one is that you guys will probably be familiar with miller’s version of this where he patroclus convinces achilles to let him wear hit where achilles armor oh my goodness.
that was a lot patrick has convinced his achilles to let patroclus wear achilles armor whilst achilles is like you know doing his little strap in the tent right so that’s a real event that does happen in the iliad however in this version of the story patroclus begs he just you know he comes up with the idea himself he then begs achilles to do it and achilles then says yeah you can totally have my armor i’m not really happy about this but you can have it as long as you promise me that you will not uh face off with hector and you will not fight anybody. because in this version of the story.
he’s not a fighter so of course they’re going to be like absolutely not whereas in the iliad when this happens it’s actually old man nestor who gives patroclus the idea of being like can you you know maybe put on his armor and just go out there to buy us some time like the whole reasoning for it is the same but nestor says it instead of patrick’s just coming up with it and then when he goes to achilles the deal that they make is not oh patrick’s won’t fight it’s that patrick’s will not fight hector specifically again but also that he will not take troy now that is a testament to how tough patroclus is that.
that’s the deal that it’s made not to take troy because he’s perfectly capable of doing it right so i want to stress that he was super tough and so finally when he does go out into the battlefield in book 16 of the iliad and in this one he’s in the chariot with alter median and you know he sort of stays in the chariot and he’s like holding the spirit he doesn’t really know what to do with it let me tell you that the patrocles in the iliad goes out there and he kills everyone okay in that scene where he goes out into the trojan into among the trojans as they’re fighting.
he kills kind of around 52 people. i say kind of around because every single time i count it comes out between 50 and 56 so i i’m just kind of saying 52. it’s somewhere around there he kills 52 people and in one line he kills 27 because he kills nine people three times over like that’s how terrifying he is that he is an absolute force to be reckoned with not only that but in that exact scene in madeleine miller’s version when he kills sarpan and it’s sort of the stroke of luck where he just kind of you know throws the spear and it just so happens to hit sarpadin who’s the son of zeus whereas in the iliad that’s a calculated attack that is patrickless being like you i’m gonna kill you because you’re in my way and i’m in the zone right now and you read it and again you’re like oh my god this man is a killing machine.
so there’s another difference between that scene and the third difference between that scene and again because we had to change all this because patrick was not a fighter in miller’s version so when patus then starts trying to climb the walls of troy and in miller’s version she says that you know he can feel uh apollo coming out and like you know pulling him down from the wall and he doesn’t know what came over him the patch plus in the iliad he’s climbing the walls and he nearly gets to the top every single time and apollo has to scream at him to be like this is not your fate and this is not your destiny.
i need you to cut the out in order for patroclus to come to and to be like oh i did tell achilles that i wasn’t going to do this without him but again that is how tough he is he’s a real like manly man and still loves achilles and killing still loves him that’s why i don’t i don’t know why that side of patrick was had to be changed i don’t know if maybe you guys can tell me your views of like why maybe we had to make patroclus less tough in order to make this relationship more enjoyable to read for a modern audience because maybe because i’ve read it in the ancient sources.
i just don’t understand why that had to be done because i kind of liked the idea that both of them were tough both of them are super worthy and then obviously you know patrick’s does die and then achilles just come out and he does kill hector because hector killed um patch quests like all of that is true but it was just patchbus being sort of a baby and sort of about a housewife and i just wasn’t really i wasn’t really about that in this book i don’t like that patroclus that’s not my patroclus that’s not home as patroclus either but overall i did again i just want to really stress this that overall i did like the book.
i just didn’t like patroclus in it because i really felt like we were sort of giving in to this this modern idea of relationship dynamics of like one person being more calm one person being more aggressive um of of you know between two men that you know one of them had to be more uh more warm you know like patrick’s was more warm achilles was more cold which is a very it’s a stereotype among gay relationships and especially among like gay male relationships you have like the fem one and then you have you know the tough one.
and i don’t think that’s necessary at all i think that is a stereotype that we’re sort of leaning into here which i didn’t like because that’s not who the men are but men are both tough they’re both terrifying and they both love each other and why did that have to be changed but all of that could just be me i do want to say like i do acknowledge that all of that could just be me because i love the ancient sources and i love those characters but if you guys have different views if you guys have the same views then um please let me know let me know in the comments below