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richardderus

Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud

The Song of Achilles - Madeline Miller Rating: 5* of fiveThe Book Report: Here I am faced with a conundrum: What new thought can I give? This is The Iliad, told from Patroclus's point of view. Miller starts the story with Patroclus's memories of his father, King Menoitius, whose unloving, unforgiving horridness blighted Patroclus's childhood. When Patroclus causes the death of a bully who happens to be a powerful noble's son, the boy's family gives the king what he wants: An excuse to rid himself of unpromising Patroclus. He is exiled (a nine year old boy) to Phthia, and the court of King Peleus.Father of Achilles. Born to the sea-nymph Thetis. Best of all the Greeks...Aristos Achaion...in each and every thing, yet mortal and so consigned to our world.Patroclus and Achilles find each other, and Achilles chooses the unpromising boy to be his companion. Peleus says, when the choice is made, are you sure about this, son? This boy will add nothing to your lustre. Achilles responds, without rancor or boastfulness, “I don't need him to.” This being self-evident and inarguable, Peleus shrugs and life goes on. The boys spend a golden childhood as best friends, a golden adolescence as lovers, and, after being outed by Odysseus in Scyros where Thetis was trying to hide Achilles from the Trojan War where he is fated to die, a long (for the times) manhood as husbands. Everyone knows what time it is. No one says boo about it, except Thetis who LOATHES Patroclus because he's not good enough for her little boy. Who would dare? Achilles is a killing machine. He is the Aristos Achaion for a reason.And now we rejoin the mainstream of The Iliad for the remainder of the plot, with only a slight change in angle of view. My Review: I think I wrote three heart-felt appreciations of this book. It is strong, and beautiful, and passionate. It is tough, and cruel, and inevitably sad. It is tender, and loving, and generous. It is indeed the Song of Achilles, sung by Patroclus, and it is a fitting funerary offering to them both.But let me get out of the story's way. It speaks for itself.”I will go,” he said. “I will go to Troy.”The rosy gleam of his lip, the fevered green of his eyes. There was not a line anywhere on his face, nothing creased or graying; all crisp. He was spring, golden and bright. Envious death would drink his blood, and grow young again.He was watching me, his eyes as deep as earth.“Will you come with me?” he asked.The never-ending ache of love and sorrow. Perhaps in some other life I could have refused, could have torn my hair and screamed, and made him face his choice alone. But not in this one. He would sail to Troy and I would follow, even into death. “Yes,” I whipsered. “Yes.”Relief broke in his face, and he reached for me. I let him hold me, let him press us length to length so close that nothing might fit between us.Tears came, and fell. Above us, the constellations spun and the moon paced her weary course. We lay stricken and sleepless as the hours passed. --pp167-168I can't make any stronger a case for the book than this. I hope you will read it.