The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
HarperCollins, New York, 2012
Borrowed from my library. Winner of the 2012 Orange Prize for fiction.
A beautiful retelling of the events leading up to the The Iliad and the first ten years of the Trojan War, told from the point of view of Patroclus, Achilles’ close companion. This is a tale of love and of the atrocities of war, just as relevant today as in Homer’s time.
Madeline Miller’s first novel has me wanting to reread both The Iliad and The Odyssey. Maybe I’ll make that a reading goal for this coming fall and winter. Another book I loved that is written from the point of view of a secondary classical character is Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin.
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. From pages 298/299.
A fine novel that will be one of my top ten books for 2012.