Skip to main content
Login | Suomeksi | På svenska | In English

"I cannot name the thing I hope for" : The Reimagining of Achilles and Patroclus in Madeline Miller's The Song of Achilles

Show full item record

Title: "I cannot name the thing I hope for" : The Reimagining of Achilles and Patroclus in Madeline Miller's The Song of Achilles
Author(s): Jokivuori, Alina Saara Emilia
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts
Degree program: Master's Programme in English Studies
Specialisation: no specialization
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2023
In this thesis, the Greek mythological characters of Achilles and Patroclus are studied, specifically the reimagination of the two in Madeline Miller’s 2011 novel The Song of Achilles. While paying homage to the original mythology, Miller’s adaptation focuses on an added romantic relationship between Achilles and Patroclus. The goal in this thesis is to recognize how The Song of Achilles modifies the two ancient characters and analyze how they become identifiable and relatable persons for the 21st century reader. Rather than suggesting queer content in The Iliad, Homer’s original telling of Achilles and Patroclus, this thesis identifies the features in the text that serve as a premise for Miller’s reimagination. By first giving an overview of The Iliad, this thesis compares Homer’s depiction to Miller’s, and identifies the significance of the changes that have been made. These revisions are seen in areas of gender expression and power balance, as well as in adding historical inaccuracies which provide relatability for the modern reader. In addition, this thesis looks at the erotica in The Song of Achilles and analyzes the way this added element further develops the characters of Achilles and Patroclus. The intent of this thesis is, with the help of The Song of Achilles, to demonstrate the importance of queer historical fiction. The genre explores the past through fictitious stories with queer characters, leading to historical inaccuracies at times. Yet, I suggest that historical accuracy is not of importance in The Song of Achilles, nor in queer historical fiction at large, as the genre has other purposes: The genre of queer historical fiction might work as a means to heal and support the mental well-being of modern queer readers through identification with characters from the past. In this thesis I suggest that even if imagined, this kind of identification allows the queer reader to envision a sense of belonging in the history of humankind.
Keyword(s): Madeline Miller The Song of Achilles Homer The Iliad queer historical fiction queer literary studies Greek mythology adaptation theory LGBTQ+

Files in this item

Files Size Format View
Jokivuori_Alina_thesis_2023.pdf 387.8Kb PDF

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show full item record