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HCAU Reviews: “The Song of Achilles”

HCAU Reviews: “The Song of Achilles”




I received the book for my birthday a couple of months ago and I have to admit I finished it the same day! I was instantly sucked into the world of Patroclus and Achilles. While the setting of Ancient Greece was understandably unfamiliar to a modern reader, the emotions that the story evokes are instantly familiar to anyone.


Fans of Greek Mythology may already be familiar with the story of Achilles, the greatest Greek warrior there ever was, hero of the Trojan war – and yet many may be unfamiliar with the Achilles portrayed in Madeleine Miller’s The Song of Achilles.


Beautifully written, this version of Achilles’ story is told by the person who arguably knew him best – his childhood friend and lover Patroclus.

In the Iliad and other stories, Patroclus is known as Achilles’ brother in arms and confidant. However, in many translations, and even in the Iliad, Miller – a classicist – argues that there were many signs pointing towards a much more romantic relationship between the two men, and that’s how she tells the story.

Commendably, she still manages to make a heart-breaking love story without losing the original story of Achilles’ heroics and the Trojan war in long shmoopy paragraphs about love – and even manages to make a BAMF female character out of Briseis, who is traditionally portrayed as a captive slave girl!


Although many will already know that this isn’t a story with a happy ending (think Romeo and Juliet), don’t let that deter you from reading this amazingly well written, heart-wrenching book. Just make sure you have tissues at the ready if you do decide to let yourself be swept up in this tale of war and ro

Ellen Vinke

Aberdeen '21

22 years old, studying postgrad Creative Writing at the University of Aberdeen! Lover of all things feline or nerdy x
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