Exploring Literature: The Song of Achilles, a readers’ debate


Photo courtesy of Bibliofile

Editor’s Note: This article includes spoilers from “The Song of Achilles”. 

“The Song of Achilles”, a deep story about two soulmates and their everlasting love, has surprisingly become rather controversial. 

The Song of Achilles” is a story based on Greek mythology centering on two boys: Achilles and Patroclus. Achilles, infamously known to be the greatest Greek warrior ever, led the Greeks to victory in the Trojan war. Patroclus was not a warrior but would undeniably do anything for Achilles. Their deep childhood friendship turned into passionate unconditional love. As they grew older, Achilles trained to be the greatest warrior and Patroclus supported him throughout. After Patroclus was called into war as a result of his blood oath, Achilles eventually let him go, doubting that Patroclus could survive such a brutal war. Evidently, Patroclus was killed in battle and Achilles lived to know that it was his greatest regret. Although author Madeline Miller made it clear that Achilles would forever regret his decision, it did not stop readers from being infuriated by the betrayal that Achilles inflicted upon his greatest love. 

Readers expressed their anger through social media and book clubs, amongst other things. Many readers defend Achillles’ actions by saying that there was only so much he could do in the brutal war that he was positioned in. It is evident that this book has impacted thousands of readers globally and has had a huge success, drawing readers to its emotional and beautifully written characters. A fan wrote on the Steve Donoghue website that “there is no imaginable version of Achilles who isn’t first and foremost concerned with his own pride.” Many readers were so enraptured with the continuous love that was growing between the two characters that it was hard to imagine such a preventable death. 

There are two sides to this story, as there are to all stories. I truly do not believe that Achilles was a villain, he was only a young man that got taken over by pride and it clouded his judgment. I think it is undeniable that their love was one of the strongest and most powerful that any reader has ever read, but I think this story is a true representation of how Achilles was influenced by other powerful figures in his life and put them before Patroclus. In truth, I believe that Achilles loved the glory of being the best warrior more than he loved Patroclus, which his actions show multiple times throughout the book. But there was nothing Achilles could do about it, because it was clear to every reader that he was destined to be the warrior of a lifetime. Patroclus’s unconditional love was non-detachable, contrary to Achilles who was hesitant at times.

This story poses a confusing question to many readers: does love really conquer all? Depending on your own interpretation of this exciting yet tragic story, it is your choice to decide.