XOXO, Achilles and Patroclus

Image Source: madelinemiller.com

Happy Pride Month to you and to Patroclus and Achilles from The Song of Achilles.  

Madeline Miller, the author of this beautiful story, was inspired by the rather unexplored friendship between Homer’s characters in the Iliad. The Greek tale tells of their partnership and Achilles’s grief after Patroclus died, but doesn’t delve into why they had such a deep connection. Miller couldn’t help but crack open the relationship and write the rest of the story. 

The result is a budding friendship between two boys who couldn’t be more different. As they age alongside mythology and emerging war, their true feelings begin to surface and so the love story begins. It is complex and poetic, honest and intricate, and most definitely a tear-jerker. The combination of Achilles’s unmatched talent in battle and Patroclus’s ordinary (but underestimated!) power creates a sweet dynamic that puts both of them to the test in the end. 

One of the wonderful things about this story is that much of it surrounds the romance without the main conflict or challenge being homophobia or a coming out story. It is a romance like any other and interwoven with history and tragedy like any good Greek mythology re-telling. It evades stereotypes and is stronger for it, allowing the non-traditional, non-hero character to shine in his own right while exploring the emotional depths of their connection. It strikes a good balance of individual and joint character arcs, which makes it all the more engaging and well crafted.  

Though it was published back in 2011, it was only recently rediscovered by #BookTok and skyrocketed back to readers’ shelves. It is clear why this novel helped crack open the YA genre and invite in other similar stories, characters, and messages! Hopefully, as time goes on, we will see more and more authentic relationships like this one and a broader range of love on our pages. 

If you haven’t read The Song of Achilles yet, there is no better time to do so. Grab a box of tissues and get ready to fall in love with a fresh take on an old story!