Sally's Reviews > The Song of Achilles

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
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Jun 09, 12

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction
Read in June, 2012

This is the story of Achilles, told by his bosom companion, Patroclus. Although I am not as familiar with the Iliad as I'd like to be, I do know it well enough to appreciate hearing the story in a new way. This is a well-written, lovely book, and the characters of Achilles, Patroclus, Odysseus, and Briseis really came to life. I found myself thinking of details from the story days afterward, savoring the details that made it more real to me.

What I did not savor was the homosexual relationship between the two men. The skill of the author made me uncomfortable as she built sexual tension between the two young men. (Fortunately, I was able to skip over the more explicit scenes.) I don't think it was necessary or even accurate to characterize their relationship this way, and for me, it diminished the characters in my eyes. (Of course, Achilles' overweening pride was by far his biggest character issue!) I mention this as a warning for those who may decide to read the book. If I had known about it ahead of time, I'm not sure I would have read the book, simply because it does color one's view of the Iliad and the loyalty between the two friends.

All in all, a nice nod to classical literature, which will hopefully compel some people to read the Iliad.
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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Yuliya The scenes were not all that explicit; they were mostly tame and quite poetic (like the rest of the book). This is simply a retelling of a story in a different, more intimate light. In no way does it take away from the characters, in fact, it adds to their issues (ex: sleeping with women, marriage, disapproving parents, honor, and the preferred masculinity of a male leader).

Anybody that has read the Iliad would probably be intrigued by a different story and point of view. The love (I wouldn't marginalize it as a homosexual relationship) between Achilles and Patroclus enhances the story and shows how the boundaries between good friends and lovers are quite thin.


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