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The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
The Song of Achilles
The Song of Achilles
  • Murder
  • Violence
  • War
  • Sex slavery
  • Homophobia
  • Sex between consenting adolescents (not graphic)
  • TikTok(s): [#1] (analysis)
  • I will never leave him. It will be this, always, for as long as he will let me.

    If I had had words to speak such a thing, I would have. But there were none that seemed big enough for it, to hold that swelling truth.

    As if he had heard me, he reached for my hand. I did not need to look; his fingers were etched into my memory, slender and petal-veined, strong and quick and never wrong.

    “Patroclus,” he said. He was always better with words than I.

  • We were like gods at the dawning of the world, and our joy was so bright we could see nothing else but the other.
  • I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell; I would know him blind, by the way his breaths came and his feet struck the earth. I would know him in death, at the end of the world.
  • I have heard that men who live by a waterfall cease to hear it—in such a way did I learn to live beside the rushing torrent of his doom.
  • I want the world overturned liked a bowl of eggs, smashed at my feet.
  • When he speaks at last, his voice is weary, defeated. He doesn't know how to be angry with me, either. We are like damp wood that won't light.
  • Chiron had said once that nations were the most foolish of mortal inventions. “No man is worth more than another, wherever he is from.”

    “But what if he is your friend?” Achilles had asked him, feet kicked up on the wall of the rose-quartz cave. “Or your brother? Should you treat him the same as a stranger?”

    “You ask a question that philosophers argue over,” Chiron had said. “He is worth more to you, perhaps. But the stranger is someone else’s friend and brother. So which life is more important?”

    We had been silent. We were fourteen, and these things were too hard for us. Now that we are twenty-seven, they still feel too hard.

    He is half of my soul, as the poets say. He will be dead soon, and his honor is all that will remain. It is his child, his dearest self. Should I reproach him for it? I have saved Briseis. I cannot save them all.

    I know, now, how I would answer Chiron. I would say: there is no answer. Whichever you choose, you are wrong.

  • I let the pebbles tumble to the ground from my fingers, where they lie, haphazard or purposeful, an augury or an accident.
  • The men stare as the two pass: it looks, almost, as if Achilles is chasing himself.
  • "There are no bargains between lions and men. I will kill you and eat you raw."