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GIRLYPOPS! When I tell you I haven’t been broken apart by a book in this way in a long time… I mean it. 

A few months ago, my girlfriends and I discovered the literary magic of Madeline Miller. Madeline Miller is a relatively new novelist that mostly focuses on retelling famous Greek myths and legends. She only has two of these novels currently published, and my girlfriends and I had the luck to start with her latest book, Circe, before moving on to her very first novel, The Song of Achilles. 

I’m grateful I read her books like that because I adored her latest novel, Circe. I adored the character Circe for who she was and what she stood for. I adored her when she turned men into pigs. And I even adored her when she *spoiler alert* married her lover’s son (which he had with his actual wife!!!). 

I will not deny that I have the softest soft spot for a good love story, and The Song of Achilles had the most devastatingly beautiful one that I have ever read. It was quiet and swift and terrifyingly poetic. I could see myself in the narrator, Patroclus. He was a wholly mediocre person, with mediocre skills and personality. In fact, the characteristic that set him apart from others was his unwavering love for Achilles, and his entire identity revolved around it. I felt that while his entire reason for being was tied to Achilles, it wasn’t demeaning. It formed his character, guided his decisions, and ultimately led to his demise. 

I think that’s the beauty of it. Patroclus was so in love with Achilles, so deeply devoted to him that he’d do anything to save his lover’s life; and, Achilles felt the same way, to his very own demise. I don’t mean to romanticize a love that is so intense and blinding that it leads to actions; but, that’s also the fun of reading a fictional story, especially a retelling of a famous Greek story. 

A love like this isn’t something any one of us should ever experience (omg I’m BEGGING y’all). Our lives are beautiful on their own, and aren’t dependent on the actions of our lovers. We don’t live to the expectations of a prophecy written before we were even born. Achilles and Patroclus were bound to that love, however, the love that made it evident that one could not simply exist without the other.

So, as one died, it did not feel right. Though my heart felt like it was torn in half because one existed without the other, I knew my heartbreak wouldn’t end. The other had to die as well; and when he did, the tragedy of their love felt complete.

My name is Ashti (she/her), I am currently an undergraduate History of Asia and the Pacific major with an Education minor at UCSC.
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