The Song of Achilles PDF - Overview
The Song of Achilles is written by American writer Madeline Miller, It is published in 2011. It is set during the Greek Heroic age, it is an adaptation of Homer’s Iliad as told from the perspective of Patroclus. The novel follows Patroclus’ relationship with Achilles, from their initial meeting to their exploits during the Trojan War, with particular focus on their romantic relationship.
The Song of Achilles is marked by major historical inaccuracies, one of which is the incorrect portrayal of Achilles and Patroclus as about the same age, despite that in Homer and later sources such as Statius, Patroclus is depicted as much older than Achilles, befitting the role of erastes in Ancient Greek pederasty.
The Song of Achilles
Plot of The Song of Achilles
The Song of Achilles is narrated by Patroclus, the son of King Menoetius. He is presented as a potential suitor to Helen. He is then obliged to take a blood oath in defense of her marriage to Menelaus. After Patroclus accidentally kills the son of one of his father’s nobles, he is exiled to Phthia where he meets Achilles, the son of Phthia’s king Peleus and the sea nymph Thetis.
They become close friends and Patroclus develops feelings for Achilles. Convinced that a mortal of low status is an unsuitable companion for her son, Thetis attempts to separate the pair by sending Achilles to train under Chiron for two years, though Patroclus ultimately joins Achilles in his training.
As their relationship grows, the Mycenaean king Agamemnon calls on the various Achaeans to join his military campaign against Troy, whose prince Paris has kidnapped his brother Menelaus’ wife Helen. As a prophecy foretells that Achilles will die in Troy after the death of the Trojan prince Hector, Thetis hides Achilles on Skyros in the guise of a woman in the court of King Lycomedes; she forces him to marry Lycomedes’ daughter Deidamia, who later bears Achilles’ son Neoptolemus.
Patroclus follows Achilles to Skyros, where they live until they are discovered by Odysseus and Diomedes. Patroclus is obligated to join the war in Troy as a result of his blood oath, while Achilles joins after vowing that he will never fight Hector in order to avoid his prophesied death.
Upon joining the Achaean forces, tensions escalate between Achilles and Agamemnon: first when Agamemnon sacrifices his daughter Iphigenia in order to appease Artemis, and later when Achilles takes the Trojan woman Briseis as a war prize to save her from Agamemnon. After nine years, Chryseis is claimed by Agamemnon.
Soon after her father Chryses tries to pay for her release which Agamemnon refuses. Chryses appeals to Apollo, who unleashes a plague that decimates the Achaeans; when Agamemnon refuses Achilles’ demand to return Chryseis, he doubles down by blaming Achilles for the war’s length, by his unwillingness to face and kill Hector.
As punishment, he orders that Briseis be taken from Achilles and brought to him, which offends Achilles, who vows to remove himself and his army from the fight until this slight at his honor is repaired.
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