Zoom information (and possible hybrid meeting details) will be provided closer to the planned meeting: 12:00pm-1:00pm, November 23, 2022.
"Greece in the age of Heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia. Here he is nobody, just another unwanted boy living in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles.
Achilles, “best of all the Greeks,” is everything Patroclus is not—strong, beautiful, the child of a goddess—and by all rights their paths should never cross. Yet one day, Achilles takes the shamed prince under his wing and soon their tentative connection gives way to a steadfast friendship. As they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something far deeper—despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.
Fate is never far from the heels of Achilles. When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men 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. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows Achilles into war, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they have learned, everything they hold dear. And that, before he is ready, he will be forced to surrender his friend to the hands of Fate.
Profoundly moving and breathtakingly original, this rendering of the epic Trojan War is a dazzling feat of the imagination, a devastating love story, and an almighty battle between gods and kings, peace and glory, immortal fame and the human heart."
Discussion Questions/Prompts (these or similar, from Madeline Miller's Website):
1) In the Iliad, Patroclus is a relatively minor character. Why do you think the author chose him to be her narrator? Which other figures in the story might make interesting narrators?
2) To what extent does Achilles’ ultimate destiny shape his choices? Is there such a thing as free will in this world?
3) Myths are often called “timeless” for their insights into human behavior. What parallels do you see between the characters and conflicts of this novel and today? What pieces of Patroclus and Achilles’ story can be universalized?
4) Achilles and Briseis each claim Patroclus’ loyalty and affection. In what ways are they similar or different? What are the dynamics of each of their relationships with Patroclus?
5) Patroclus tells Thetis that he is “made of memories.” What does he mean by that? What role does memory—both personal and cultural—play in the novel?