Friday, March 1, 2013

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Achilles was the golden boy of Greek myth. The son of a sea nymph and mortal king, he was handsome and intelligent, as skilled in the arts as in athletics. The Song of Achilles is the story of his life and death told by his friend Patroclus. As boys the two were educated together and, despite differences in interests and abilities, became close companions. When Helen, the wife of the king of Sparta, was kidnapped and taken to Troy, the princes of Greece were bound by oath to reclaim her. Achilles and Patroclus joined the fight. For nine years the Greek armies besieged the city but were unable to breach the walls. The Trojans defended their city but were unable to drive the Greeks away. This stalemate continued until, in the tenth year, King Agamemnon insulted Achilles, causing him to withdraw his forces. Consequently, the Greek armies suffered great losses. Only after the death of Patroclus, who was fighting in Achilles’ place, was Achilles able to overlook his wounded pride and return to battle. Achilles was killed but the tide had turned and the war was won in the tenth year.  This book is a modern prose retelling of Greek mythological stories and Homer’s Iliad.