Achilles and Patroclus

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This is an excerpt from the book The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.

You must not go. I almost said it, a thousand times. Instead I held his hands fast between mine; they were cold, and very still.

‘I do not think I could bear it,’ he said, at last. His eyes were closed as if against horrors. I know he spoke not of his death, but of the nightmare Odysseus had spun, the loss of his brilliance, the withering of his grace. I had seen the joy he took in his own skill, the roaring vitality that was always just beneath the surface. Who was he if not miraculous, and radiant? Who was he if not destined for fame?

‘I would not care,’ I said. The words scrabbled from my mouth. ‘Whatever you became. It would not matter to me. We would be together.’

‘I know,’ he said quietly, but did not look at me.

He knew, but it was not enough. The sorrow was so large it threatened to tear through my skin. When he died, all things swift and beautiful and bright would be buried with him. I opened my mouth, but it was too late.

‘I will go,’ he said. ‘I will go to Troy.’

The rosy gleam of his lip, the fevered green of his eyes. There was not a line anywhere on his face, nothing creased or greying; all crisp. He was spring, golden and bright. Envious Death would drink his blood, and grow young again.

He was watching me, his eyes as deep as earth.

‘Will you come with me?’ he asked.

The never-ending ache of love and sorrow. Perhaps in some other life I could have refused, could have torn my hair and screamed, and made him face his choice alone. But not in this one. He would sail to Troy and I would follow, even into death. Yes, I whispered. Yes.

Relief broke in his face, and he reached for me. I let him hold me, let him press us length to length so close that nothing might fit between us.

Tears came, and fell. Above us, the constellations spun, and the moon paced her weary course. We lay stricken and sleepless as the hours passed.

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!

The Song of Achilles – Summary

Here is the book summary from Goodreads:

Achilles, “the best of all the Greeks,” son of the cruel sea goddess Thetis and the legendary king Peleus, is strong, swift, and beautiful, irresistible to all who meet him. Patroclus is an awkward young prince, exiled from his homeland after an act of shocking violence. Brought together by chance, they forge an inseparable bond, despite risking the gods’ wrath.

They are trained by the centaur Chiron in the arts of war and medicine, but when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, all the heroes of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the cruel Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.

Copyright © 2011 by Madeline Miller

More details on Goodreads can be found here.

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