The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

“Patrocleia” is a free adaptation of book 16 of Homer’s epic poem about the siege of Troy (c. ninth century b.c.e., first transcribed in the sixth century b.c.e. by the Greeks after the Trojan prince, Paris, seduced Helen, the wife of Menelaus, one of the Greek chieftains, and fled with her to Troy (the fortress kingdom of his father, King Priam).

The Greeks and their allies have had limited success in attacking Troy; the war has gone on for more than nine years, and their efforts have not been helped by the fact that their finest warrior, Achilles, has quarrelled with Agamemnon, the king of Mycenae, the leader of the expedition, and now refuses to fight. In addition, difficulties for both sides lie in the intrusion of several gods of varying powers and eccentric inclinations. Achilles (whose mother is a deity) has asked the gods to deter the Greeks so long as he is at odds with Agamemnon. His absence has led to the Trojans being more successful in battle: The Greeks are backed up to the shore, where they are hard pressed to protect their ships.

Patroclus, Achilles’ closest friend (Logue uses his name as a basis for the title of this section of the poem), chides Achilles for his stubborn inaction and suggests that if Achilles will not fight, he should at least allow his troops, the Myrmidons, to go into battle. Patroclus offers to lead them; to ensure their success, he...

(The entire section is 445 words.)