The Song of Achilles Characters
by Madeline Miller

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The Song of Achilles Characters

In her novel The Song of Achilles, author Madeline Miller presents a new vision of The Trojan War. In doing so, she depicts many well-known figures from Greek mythology. In this response, I will briefly outline some of the important characters featured in this acclaimed book.

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Patroclus

Patroclus is the narrator of The Song of Achilles. While he was born a prince, he lives in exile within the court of King Peleus in Phthia. Patroclus enters exile after he kills a boy who was bullying him. Despite the fact that Patroclus occupies a low position in the court due to his past, the heroic Achilles forms a strong friendship with Patroclus. This bond eventually turns into a love story. While he has a violent past, Patroclus is characterized as kind and lacking the extreme ambition possessed by the men that surround him. Patroclus's death motivates Achilles to return to battle, changing the path of history and cementing Achilles's status as a mighty figure in Greek mythology.

Achilles

Achilles is famous for his tremendous skills as a warrior and his physical beauty. Achilles is not a mortal like Patroclus. He is the son of King Peleus and a sea nymph named Thetis.
Unlike Patroclus, Achilles is very ambitious and he has a deep longing for fame. During the Trojan War, he falls into an argument with Agamemnon and exits the battle. But in the wake of Patroclus' death, he returns and earns his heroic place in history. He is eventually killed by the Prince of Troy, Paris.

Miller makes some interesting observations about the relationship between Patroclus and Achilles in the following quote from an interview with Jane Ciabattari (2012):

For me, Achilles’s extreme and passionate reaction to Patroclus’s death—embracing the body, refusing to bury it, asking for Patroclus’s ashes to be mixed with his own—speak of a connection that is romantic as well as companionable. I wanted to write a relationship that would be worthy of those responses.

(The entire section is 515 words.)