Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles is an enchanting retelling of the mythical tale of the Trojan War. Within the pages of this artistic masterpiece lie many brilliant quotes that linger in the minds of the readers. So, let us decipher the deep meanings of some of the most popular Song of Achilles quotes.
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Best Song of Achilles Quotes
The Song of Achilles, a timeless classic, explores the romantic relationship between Patroclus and Achilles. Throughout the story, we can find a variety of moving and thought-provoking quotes. Most of these poignant quotes are said by Patroclus and they are replete with symbolism.
“He smiled, and his face was like the sun.”
A person in love does not see the beloved’s physical imperfections. We are so attracted to that human that they appear to be the prettiest. We like everything about them – be it the way they smile or the color of their hair. This is one of the Song of Achilles quotes that celebrates the cuteness of a union between two individuals.
The speaker of this line is a lover who believes his partner is the most charming man on earth. He can look at Achilles all day without getting bored and write poems in praise of him. When Achilles smiles, Patroclus’s whole world lights up. But what does he indicate when he compares the smile of his special person to the sun?
This is a fine example of a metaphor that could have several interpretations. The sun is a source of warmth and light for all creatures on Earth. So, comparing someone to this heavenly body means that they are the light in your life. The sun is symbolic of life, energy, and hope. Hence, making someone the sun of our life means we are treating them as the most important person.
We also know that like other planets, the Earth is constantly revolving around the sun. So, this phrase denotes that Patroclus’s life revolves around Achilles. Wherever the latter goes, the former follows without any doubt.
“Name one hero who was happy.”
Out of all the Song of Achilles quotes, this one is perhaps the most quoted. The short line is so meaningful that one cannot but feel sad for great heroes like Achilles.
Fighters are destined to be unhappy as they have grave responsibilities. Whenever duty calls, they must leave their families and travel to faraway places to fight battles. Each time they participate in a war, there is no certainty that they will survive and be reunited with their dear ones again.
Heracles, for instance, went crazy and he murdered his family. Jason’s old wife and children slaughtered the kids from his second marriage. Bellerophon, another tragic hero, became crippled. Many other heroic figures had to go through worse ordeals. So, it is hard to name a hero whose life has been peaceful like that of a common man.
Lastly, this quote is ominous in nature as it hints at the tragic fate of two star-crossed lovers. While Patroclus and Achilles have been profoundly happy in each other’s company, their joy was short-lived. In the end, Achilles was left heartbroken after Hector killed Patroclus.
“Divine blood flows differently in each god-born child. Achilles’s miracle was his speed. His spear, as he began the first pass, moved faster than my eye could follow.”
Here Patroclus, who reveres Achilles, elucidates the tremendous power of being God-blessed. When divine blood runs through the veins of an individual, they have some extraordinary talent. For example, Heracles could lead a man to his death simply by tapping on his back. The voice of Orpheus was so tempting that it bewitched even inanimate objects and compelled trees to shed tears.
So, what is the special skill of Achilles that separates him from other warriors? Patroclus uses similes to describe Achilles and his rare gifts. The valiant warrior was known for his miraculous speed of using the spear. His feet were so fast when he fought that he appeared to be a graceful dancer.
While these lines explain how adept Achilles was at using the spear, they also tell us what the future holds. If you consider the retrospective style of Patroclus’s speeches, you cannot overlook these deliberate references. So, the use of literary devices does not just make the lines sound poetic. They also serve the purpose of foreshadowing what is about to come.
“I stopped watching for the ridicule, the scorpion’s tail hidden in his words. He said what he meant.”
This is one of the Song of Achilles quotes where Patroclus talks about the comfort level he has with Achilles. As he grew up in an unhealthy and disdainful environment, Achilles’s simplicity amazed Patroclus. He found that Achilles was a straightforward man who meant what he said. He was devoid of deceit and that’s what impressed Patroclus.
To understand the metaphor of the concealed scorpion’s tail, you must know the fable of the frog and the scorpion. In this context, it illustrates that someone like Patroclus has been betrayed in the past. So, when he meets someone new, it isn’t easy for him to trust them. But Achilles is such an uncomplicated man that Patroclus cannot help idolizing him.
“And perhaps it is greater grief, after all, to be left on earth when another is gone.”
Looking for The Song of Achilles quotes that are relevant even in the modern world? This line about the pain we feel when a loved one dies revolves around a universal theme: death.
Achilles, who was enamored of Patroclus, was despondent when his lover passed away. He blamed the Gods for taking away his most valuable possession and did not know how to continue with his life. It was then that Chiron uttered the above-mentioned statement that crosses everyone’s mind when they lose someone dear.
When somebody leaves the mortal world, that person is gone and we can never see them again. So, the sufferings and sorrows of the human would cannot touch them anymore as their souls abandon their bodies. But their family members must mourn the loss and they find it challenging to move on.
Hence, the sadness of the one who survives surpasses the pain of the one who leaves. Our deceased family members leave a void in our hearts that will never be filled. We remember everything about them and crave their company day and night. The memories keep haunting us and you have no option but to surrender to this law of nature.
“I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell. I would know him blind, by the way his breaths came.”
As the central theme of the novel is ‘love’, there are many Song of Achilles quotes on love. This line, spoken by Patroclus, shows how deeply and irrevocably he has fallen for Achilles. But what does he mean when he claims he could sense Achilles’s presence even if he were blind?
Love is magical, and the connection you have with your paramour is strong and pure. It is known as ‘psychic connection’ and that’s something you automatically develop when you find your soulmate. You will have an intimate bond and you will be able to interact with that person on a spiritual level. When two lovers achieve that stage, their bond transcends space and time.
So, even when your eyes are closed, you can identify a loved one simply by their touch. Even if you were blind, you would know that they are in the same room as you. That’s because you know everything about them – be it their touch or their fragrance.
If the subject of your affection approaches you, your heartbeat will speed up. Even with closed eyes, you can feel the warmth of their breath on your neck. Do you think you have someone in your life about whom you can say these lines? Then you should consider yourself fortunate as being in love is a beautiful feeling.
“No man is worth more than another, wherever he is from”
Powerful and wealthy men assume that their lives are more valuable than the lives of the masses. When a war takes place, the poor soldiers are the first ones to sacrifice their lives. If there is a crisis, the rich people use their money to flee. So, this quote by Miller serves as a reminder that every single life matters.
Irrespective of our position in society, we all have equal rights as humans, the right to live being the most significant one. Hence, the quote should be an eye-opener for anyone who has the illusion that superior.
Hence, on a deeper level, this line is indicative of the unreasonable pride that some men are born with or acquire. It is this pride that makes them blind to the problems of other people and a delusional idea of self-worth. The moment one stops being proud, they will realize how vain they have been.
“There is no law that gods must be fair.”
One of the ironical Song of Achilles quotes, this line encapsulates a theory about the existence of humans in the bigger scheme of themes. It suggests that our lives depend on the whims of greater powers. Moreover, the one in charge may not always make a fair decision, as is evident from the untimely demise of Patroclus.
The simple interpretation of this assertion is that we have no option but to surrender to our destinies. And no matter how virtuous we are, life may be unfair to us in the end. Undoubtedly, it is a fascinating concept that makes people question their blind devotion to God.
So, when you read this quote, you will realize that our lives are controlled by powerful forces. And we can only pray that they will be kind to us and our dear ones. But if God truly existed, why do the innocent always suffer? Why is there so much injustice in every part of the world? Alas, we have no solid answers to these questions.
“He is half of my soul, as the poets say.”
We all desire to be understood, noticed, and loved. Therefore, the idea of meeting our soulmate has always been a fascinating one for humans. The soulmate is our ideal mate, someone who will complete us and accept us the way we are. How can you be sure that your soul has found its eternal partner?
When it comes to finding someone who will be the missing piece in your life’s puzzle, your instincts will be your guiding force. The individual will have a profound impact on your life and everything will change. You will help each other grow by overcoming all limitations and realizing your true potential.
That is exactly how Achilles influenced Patroclus and changed his life forever. Patroclus cannot but resort to poetry to find the right words to describe their divine bond. He is certain that they have a cosmic connection and that their souls have become intertwined. And when that happens, these types of Song of Achilles quotes will make more sense to you.
“He is more of a wonder than any living man.”
Another wonderful love quote from The Song of Achilles, this line is a reflection of Patroclus’s innermost feelings. He is wonderstruck ever since he met Achilles and no man seems to be good enough in his comparison.
Patroclus is of the opinion that Achilles is a magical being who is unlike an ordinary human. He feels blessed to attract the attention and affection of such a noble soul. Be it his honesty or his bravery – every characteristic trait makes him unique.
So, the quotes in The Song of Achilles encompass themes like pride, fate, and love. It was Achilles’s destiny to travel to Troy only to become a martyr.
If the meaningful quotes have touched your heart, you will have a great time reading the book. The messages conveyed by these lines are so timeless that one does not need to be a literature student to fathom their hidden meanings.