MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Reading guide for The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Song of Achilles

A Novel

by Madeline Miller

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller X
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Mar 2012, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2012, 384 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

  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. Near the beginning of their friendship, Achilles tells his father that he values Patroclus because "he is surprising." What do you think Achilles means by that? How is Patroclus different from the other foster boys? Why?
  3. What do you think are the reasons behind Thetis' opposition to Patroclus?
  4. How do the boys change during their time with Chiron? Do the centaur's lessons continue to be a guiding force in their lives?
  5. On the island of Scyros, what motivates Deidameia's desire to speak to Patroclus alone? What does she hope to achieve?
  6. To what extent does Achilles' ultimate destiny shape his choices? Is there such a thing as free will in this world?
  7. Historical events can sometimes turn upon the will or personality of a single person. Aside from Achilles, are there other characters whose faults or virtues significantly affect the Trojan War's outcome?
  8. 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?
  9. What is the significance of song and music in the novel?
  10. Patroclus is often a self-critical narrator. Consider how other characters in the novel regard him - do they see him in the same way he sees himself?
  11. As represented in the novel, what are some of Odysseus' defining qualities? Do you find him a sympathetic character? Why or why not?
  12. Consider the explosive falling out between Achilles and Agamemnon. In what ways are each of them at fault for the rift? Could it have been avoided, or was it inevitable given that Achilles' fate is determined?
  13. 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?
  14. What does the encounter between Priam and Achilles reveal about Achilles? Why do you think Achilles grants his request?
  15. Near the end of the book, Odysseus comes to speak to Pyrrhus on Patroclus' behalf. Why do you think he does this? How did it change (or not) your opinion of Odysseus?
  16. Peleus warns his son that any mortal who visits the sea-nymphs in their caves beneath the sea does not return the same. How is this belief borne out by the character of Pyrrhus, who was raised there? In what way does Pyrrhus confirm or deny Patroclus' fears about the gods?
  17. In the final pages of the book, we learn more about Thetis. How does this affect our view of her?
  18. 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?


Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Ecco. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for a year or $12 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  The Evolution of Achilles

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: American Dirt
    American Dirt
    by Jeanine Cummins
    Jeanine Cummins' American Dirt hasn't just been positively reviewed by BookBrowse First Impressions ...
  • Book Jacket: In the Dream House
    In the Dream House
    by Carmen Maria Machado
    In the introduction to In the Dream House, Carmen Maria Machado (a National Book Award finalist for ...
  • Book Jacket: Father of Lions
    Father of Lions
    by Louise Callaghan
    Our readers have given high marks to Father of Lions by Louise Callaghan. Out of 21 reviewers, 18 ...
  • Book Jacket
    Girl, Woman, Other
    by Bernardine Evaristo
    As we meet Amma, a 50-something playwright finally experiencing mainstream success in Bernardine ...

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Lost Man
by Jane Harper

"Strong characters, riveting plot and an honest look at life in the Australian outback make it easy to give this 5-stars!"
—BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Lady Clementine
    by Marie Benedict

    An illuminating look at one of history's most unusual and extraordinary women, Clementine Churchill.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Remembrance
    by Rita Woods

    A breakout debut with modern resonance, perfect for fans of The Underground Railroad and Orphan Train.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Adventurer's Son

Publishing Soon!
The Adventurer's Son

"A brave and marvelous book. A page-turner that will rip your heart out."
--Jon Krakauer

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

I I A Broke, D F I

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.