“The Song of Achilles” is a must-read for Pride Month

Madeline Miller’s novel is honest and candid about an important relationship


Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

Miller’s 2012 bestseller is a great read for anyone interested in Greek mythology or love stories

Leila Hewitt, Arts & Culture Writer

If you plan on celebrating queer culture and media during pride month this year, “The Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller is a staple novel to start with.

The novel features a gay relationship not often presented in popular media – one that is mutual, intimate, romantic and best of all: direct. There is no queer-baiting in this book. Unlike the insultingly censored movie “Troy,” Achilles’ and Patroclus’ relationship stays true to the passionate homosexuality of Homer’s “Iliad.” 

”We were like gods, at the dawning of the world, and our joy was so bright we could see nothing else but the other,” Miller writes in ” The Song of Achilles.”

Achilles and Patroclus are written genuinely, as if they’re real people with interactions you can envision as clearly as though you had lived them yourself. They experience complex character development in a storyline that does not exclusively revolve around putting a spotlight on the concept of their homosexuality. Among this, perhaps the most enchanting part of this novel, besides the romance, is the lack of harmful stereotypes that the gay characters fail to fall into. Part of this can be accredited to the rich mythology they were adapted from.

The characters in question, Achilles and Patroclus, are derived from Ancient Greek mythology. The novel is a romantic adaptation of the myth, so it features action, intense dialogue and a journey written in a compelling, almost poetic prose. Miller’s stunning writing alone should compel you to read this novel. 

“Had she really thought I would not know him?” Miller writes of the their relationship. “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.”

If you’re unfamiliar with the myth, be careful not to spoil yourself. And if you know Achilles and Patroclus story by heart, or you’re familiar with details of their story, the novel is still impactful and heart-wrenching.