The Song of Achilles

I was a Classics student at school, fighting my way through years of Latin before settling down to some good English translations in Classical Civilisation at A Level. As a child, I loved reading ancient Greek myths, and as a teenager I was engrossed by The Iliad, The Odyssey and The Aeneid.

I haven’t really looked at any of these texts in over a decade, but the infamous story of Achilles and the Trojan War came flooding back to me in this Orange Prize winning novel by Madeline Miller. However, unlike Brad Pitt’s Troy, this isn’t an epic tale of battle so much as a love story, narrated by Achilles’ lover Patroclus. It’s beautifully written, with characters drawn so clearly you can hear them breathing.

I could talk on and on, (inadequately) trying to capture or summarise all the wonderful things I loved about this book, instead I urge you to just go and read it. Then you’ll understand me when I say ‘this and this and this’.

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8 Responses to The Song of Achilles

  1. Maria says:

    I minored in Classics in college, specializing in Ancient Greek – I remember translating Book 1 and 2 of the Iliad. Thanks for the rec, definitely going to check this out.

    • Hoxton says:

      Ah you’re so you did proper Classics – impressive! I know not a word of Ancient Greek. I really enjoyed another take on a familiar story, and the other famous characters like Odysseus and Agamemnon are very well done too, beyond the usual simplistic labels of just clever or arrogant etc.

  2. Nancy says:

    thank you very very much for the book recommendation – please keep it up. I was so glad for your last as I was in need of a book & I find them quite difficult to pick (so many to chose from) and I get through them so quickly! It’s good to have recommendations from someone whose taste I very much appreciate! :o)

  3. vi0let says:

    In that case you might like Lavinia, by Ursula Le Guin. It gives a voice to a woman who is mentioned in The Aeneid but doesn’t get to speak.

  4. Beth says:

    Brilliant recommendation- even with no background in and little knowledge of the classics, this book is a compelling read. Couldn’t put it down- it had emotion, great characters and beautiful prose. I agree- just read it!

  5. Debra Rogers says:

    Oh, the memories! I took 4 years of Latin in high school 22 years ago! I remember translating The Illiad, The Aeneid, and The Odyessey into English. My God, the work! But, what beautiful literature. I might have to grab this book. I am a romantic at heart, and this book sounds interesting!

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