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123 The Song of Achilles Quotes by Madeline Miller

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By Karabo Baloyi
Jun 13, 2022
04:35 P.M.

“The Song of Achilles,” Madeline Miller’s adaptation of Homer’s "The Iliad," is a 2011 novel based on Achilles and his relationship with Patroclus. It is a great read for anyone interested in fresh adaptations of classic Greek literature. Here are 40 memorable quotes from the award-winning novel.

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In 2011, author Madeline Miller released a re-imagined novel based on Homer's classic, "The Iliad." Several authors over time have adapted this classic poem, but Miller’s novel was unique because it was told from Patroclus’s perspective.

The novel follows Patroclus' relationship with Achilles, which had a significant effect on the Trojan War. The novel’s masterful imagery contains many quotes from the characters which paint a vivid image of love, trust, and heartbreak. Here are 125 of the best for you to appreciate.

Patroclus's quote: “I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell; I would know him blind, by the way, his breaths came and his feet struck the earth. I would know him in death, at the end of the world.” | Image: AmoDays

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THE MOST MEMORABLE "THE SONG OF ACHILLES" QUOTES

“My mother told you the rest of the prophecy. And you think that no one but me can kill Hector. And you think to steal time from the Fates?” — Achilles

“Kill me. It will not bring him back. He was worth 10 of you. Ten! And you sent him to his death.” — Briseis

“Our men liked conquest; they did not trust a man who was conquered himself.” — Patroclus

“Until this moment I had been a prince, expected and announced. Now I was negligible.” — Patroclus

“I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell; I would know him blind, by the way his breaths came and his feet struck the earth. I would know him in death, at the end of the world.” — Patroclus

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Chiron's quote: “Do not let what you gained this day be so easily lost.” | Image: AmoDays

“All I saw was his beauty, his singing limbs, the quick flickering of his feet.” — Patroclus

"Our goddess of the moon is gifted with magic, with power over the dead. She could banish the dreams if she wished. She did not.” — Patroclus

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“The presence of the other boys did not comfort me; our dead come for their vengeance regardless of witnesses.” — Patroclus

“Do not let what you gained this day be so easily lost.” — Chiron

Patroclus's quote: “All I saw was his beauty, his singing limbs, the quick flickering of his feet.” | Image: AmoDays

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“We reached for each other and I thought of how many nights I had lain awake in this room loving him in silence.” — Patroclus

“We were like gods at the dawning of the world and our joy was so bright we could see nothing else but the other.” — Patroclus

“A surety rose in me, lodged in my throat. I will never leave him. It will be this, always, for as long as he will let me.” — Patroclus

“I should have known better than to call upon the gods.” — Patroclus

Patroclus's quote: “Our goddess of the moon is gifted with magic, with power over the dead. She could banish the dreams if she wished. She did not.” | Image: AmoDays

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MEMORABLE "THE SONG OF ACHILLES" QUOTES

“We had been silent. We were 14, and these things were too hard for us. Now that we are 27, they still feel too hard.” — Patroclus

“The never-ending ache of love and sorrow. Perhaps in some other life I could have refused, could have torn my hair and screamed, and made him face his choice alone.” — Patroclus

“But is it not a sort of genius to cut always to the heart.” — Patroclus

“He is half of my soul, as the poets say.” — Patroclus

Patroclus's quote: “The presence of the other boys did not comfort me; our dead come for their vengeance regardless of witnesses.” | Image: AmoDays

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“The thick warmth of his sleepy breath against my ear. If you have to go, I will go with you. My fears are forgotten in the golden harbor of his arms.” — Patroclus

“I saw then how I had changed. I did not mind anymore that I lost when we raced and I lost when we swam out to the rocks and I lost when we tossed spears or skipped stones.” — Patroclus

“Tears came and fell. Above us, the constellations spun and the moon paced her weary course. We lay stricken and sleepless as the hours passed.” — Patroclus

Patroclus's quote: “We reached for each other and I thought of how many nights I had lain awake in this room loving him in silence.” | Image: AmoDays

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SARCASTIC "THE SONG OF ACHILLES" QUOTES

“There are no bargains between lions and men. I will kill you and eat you raw.” — Achilles

“There is no answer. Whichever you choose, you are wrong.” — Patroclus

“But most ugly of all are his eyes — blue, bright blue. When people see them, they flinch. Such things are freakish. He is lucky he was not killed at birth.” — Patroclus

“He did not fear ridicule, he had never known it.” — Patroclus

Briseis's quote: “Kill me. It will not bring him back. He was worth 10 of you. Ten! And you sent him to his death.” | Image: AmoDays

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“But what if he is your friend? Or your brother? Should you treat him the same as a stranger?” — Achilles

“It was the same way he had looked at the boys in Phthia, blank and unseeing. He had never, not once, looked at me that way.” — Patroclus

“Nothing could eclipse the stain of his dirty, mortal mediocrity.” — Patroclus

“My mind is filled with cataclysm and apocalypse. I wish for earthquakes, eruptions, and floods.” — Patroclus

Patroclus's quote: “Our men liked conquest; they did not trust a man who was conquered himself.” | Image: AmoDays

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“Son of Laertes, I do not remember inviting you to speak.” — Menoetius

“Ah. Well, why should I kill him? He’s done nothing to me.” — Achilles

PROFOUND "THE SONG OF ACHILLES" QUOTES

“No man is worth more than another, wherever he is from.” — Chiron

“True. But fame is a strange thing. Some men gain glory after they die, while others fade. What is admired in one generation is abhorred in another.” — Odysseus

Madeline Miller's quote: “Exile might satisfy the anger of the living, but it did not appease the dead.” | Image: AmoDays

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“He was watching me, his eyes as deep as earth.” — Patroclus

“I found myself grinning until my cheeks hurt, my scalp prickling till I thought it might lift off my head. My tongue ran away from me, giddy with freedom.” — Patroclus

“Maybe her gods are kinder than ours, and she will find rest.” — Patroclus

“He had light enough to make heroes of them all.” — Odysseus

“Now I know how to make you follow me everywhere.” — Achilles

Achilles's quote: “When I am dead, I charge you to mingle our ashes and bury us together.” | Image: AmoDays

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“The memories come and come. She listens, staring into the grain of the stone.” — Patroclus

“When he speaks, at last, his voice is weary and defeated. He doesn’t know how to be angry with me, either. We are like damp wood that won’t light.” — Patroclus

“It was all she said, but I felt the shiver go through the men around me. Even as a child I felt it, and I marveled at the power of this woman who, though veiled, could electrify a room.” — Patroclus

“He was watching me closely, reading my face over and over, like a priest searching the auguries for an answer. I could see the slight line in his forehead that meant utmost concentration.” — Patroclus

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Patroclus's quote: “The greater the monument, the greater the man.” | Image: AmoDays

“He is worth more to you, perhaps. But the stranger is someone else’s friend and brother. So which life is more important?” — Chiron

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“It was almost like fear, in the way it filled me, rising in my chest. It was almost like tears, in how swiftly it came. But it was neither of those, buoyant where they were heavy, bright where they were dull.” — Patroclus

“Her skin, we suddenly remembered, was rumored to be gilded, her eyes dark and shining as the slick obsidian that we traded our olives for.” — Patroclus

“For who can be ashamed to lose to such beauty?” — Patroclus

Achilles's quote: “My mother told you the rest of the prophecy. And you think that no one but me can kill Hector. And you think to steal time from the Fates?” | Image: AmoDays

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SHORT "THE SONG OF ACHILLES QUOTES"

“I hope that Hector kills you.” — Briseis

“Do you think I do not hope the same?” — Achilles

“I was not invited. I interrupted.” — Ajax

“‘Philtatos, best of men, and slaughtered by your son.” — Achilles

“I wish he had let you all die.” — Achilles

Patroclus's quote: “Her skin, we suddenly remembered, was rumored to be gilded, her eyes dark and shining as the slick obsidian that we traded our olives for.” | Image: AmoDays

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“‘I wish I had known,’ I said, the first day when he showed it to me.” — Patroclus

“I don’t think I’ve ever told you how I like it.” — Achilles

“Dear gods, I think, let him not hate me.” — Patroclus

“Bring him back to me.” — Achilles

Ajax's quote: “I was not invited. I interrupted.” | Image: AmoDays

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“I am air and thought and can do nothing.” — Patroclus

“Name one hero who was happy.” — Chiron

“I feel like I could eat the world raw.” — Achilles

Related: 130 Quotes from Lil Peep About His Life, Music, and Other Passions.

Patroclus's quote: “Bury us, and mark our names above. Let us be free.” | Image: AmoDays

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"THE SONG OF ACHILLES" QUOTES FILLED WITH IMAGERY

“I taught him how to skip stones, and he taught me how to carve wood. I could feel every nerve in my body, every brush of air against my skin.” — Patroclus

“The rosy gleam of his lip, the fevered green of his eyes. There was not a line anywhere on his face, nothing creased or graying; all crisp.” — Patroclus

“I stopped watching for ridicule, the scorpion’s tail hidden in his words. He said what he meant; he was puzzled if you did not.” — Patroclus

“I almost did not come, because I did not want to believe it.” — Patroclus

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“This was a man who moved like the gods were watching — every gesture he made was upright and correct. There was no one else it could be but Hector.” Patroclus

Patroclus's quote: “This is what Achilles will feel like when he is old. And then I remembered — he will never be old.” | Image: AmoDays

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“An ugly man, with a face sharp like a weasel and a habit of running a flickering tongue over his lips before he speaks.” — Patroclus

“This is how I think of us when I remember our nights at Troy — Achilles and I beside each other, Phoenix smiling and Automedon stuttering through the punch lines of jokes, and Briseis with her secret eyes and quick, spilling laughter.” — Patroclus

“I conjured the boy I knew. Achilles, grinning as the figs blur in his hands. His green eyes laughed into mine. Catch, he says. Achilles, outlined against the sky, hanging from a branch over the river.” — Patroclus

“Later Achilles would play the lyre, as Chiron and I listened. My mother’s lyre. He had brought it with him.” — Patroclus

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“It was enough to watch him win, to see the soles of his feet flashing as they kicked up sand, or the rise and fall of his shoulders as he pulled through the salt. It was enough.” — Patroclus

Patroclus's quote: “He collects my ashes himself, though this is a woman’s duty. He puts them in a golden urn, the finest in our camp, and turns to the watching Greeks.” | Image: AmoDays

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“Something shifted in me then, like the frozen surface of the Apidanos in spring. I had seen the way he looked at Deidameia; or rather the way he did not.” — Patroclus

“Agamemnon posted guards to watch Troy every hour of every day. We were all waiting for something—an attack, or an embassy, or a demonstration of power.” — Patroclus

“Her voice was low and lovely, carrying to every corner of the hall.” — Patroclus

“At that moment she was worth all the prizes in the center of the hall, and more. She was worth our lives.” — Patroclus

METAPHORICAL AND SERIOUS "THE SONG OF ACHILLES" QUOTES

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“And her skin shone luminous and impossibly pale as if it drank light from the moon.” — Patroclus

Thetis's quote: “You have killed him and taken your vengeance. It is enough.” | Image; AmoDays

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“Thetis spends the whole novel fighting the limitations placed on her, desperately trying to eke out the best she can from a bad situation. This makes her fierce and terrifying.” — Patroclus

“Our mouths opened under each other, and the warmth of his sweetened throat poured into mine. I could not think, could not do anything but drink him in, each breath as it came, the soft movements of his lips. It was a miracle.” — Patroclus

“The ship’s boards were still sticky with new resin. We leaned over the railing to wave our last farewell, the sun-warm wood pressed against our bellies. The sailors heaved up the anchor, square and chalky with barnacles, and loosened the sails.” — Patroclus

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“Her mouth was a gash of red, like the torn-open stomach of a sacrifice, bloody and oracular. Behind it, her teeth shone sharp and white as bone.” — Patroclus

“There was more to say, but for once we did not say it. There would be other times for speaking, tonight and tomorrow and all the days after that. He let go of my hand.” — Patroclus

Patroclus's quote: “He was spring, golden and bright. Envious death would drink his blood, and grow young again.” | Image: AmoDays

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“His face twisted with embarrassment, and in spite of itself my heart lightened. It was such a boyish response. And so human. Parents, everywhere.” — Patroclus

“I shift an infinitesimal movement, towards him. It is like the leap from a waterfall. I do not know, until then, what I am going to do.” — Patroclus

“And when he moved it was like watching oil spread across a lake, smooth and fluid, almost vicious.” — Patroclus

“He knew, but it was not enough. The sorrow was so large it threatened to tear through my skin.” — Patroclus

“Then they took their seats at the oars that fringed the boat like eyelashes, waiting for the count. The drums began to beat, and the oars lifted and fell, taking us to Troy.” — Patroclus

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Madeline Miller's quote: “People are people, whatever age they’re living in. The circumstances may have changed — we go to war with planes instead of chariots, but experiences of grief, longing, rage, and love remain the same.” | Image: AmoDays

“Achilles smiles as his face strikes the earth.” — Patroclus

“There was nothing clever to say, so I said something foolish.” — Patroclus

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“This, I say. This and this. The way his hair looked in the summer sun. His face when he ran. His eyes, solemn as an owl at lessons. This and this and this. So many moments of happiness, crowding forward.” — Patroclus

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Madeline Miller" quote: “Perhaps such things pass for virtue among the gods. But, how is there glory in taking life?” | Image: AmoDays

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"THE SONG OF ACHILLES" QUOTES TO WIDEN YOUR IMAGINATION

“Bury us, and mark our names above. Let us be free.” — Patroclus

“He looked different in sleep, beautiful but cold as moonlight. I found myself wishing he would wake so that I might watch the life return.” — Patroclus

“I lay back and tried not to think of the minutes passing. Just yesterday we had a wealth of them. Now, each was a drop of heartsblood lost.” — Patroclus

“We cannot say who will survive the holocaust of memory. We are men only, a brief flare of the torch.” — Odysseus

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“The greater the monument, the greater the man.” — Patroclus

Madeline Miller's quote: “Perhaps such things pass for virtue among the gods. But, how is there glory in taking life?” | Image: AmoDays

“Perhaps he simply assumed — a bitterness of habit, of boy after boy trained for music and medicine, and unleashed for murder.” — Patroclus

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“This is what Achilles will feel like when he is old. And then I remembered — he will never be old.” — Patroclus

“I began to surprise Achilles, calling out to these men as we walked through the camp. I was always gratified at how they would raise a hand in return, point to a scar that had healed over well.” — Patroclus

“The sound was pure and sweet as water, bright as lemons.” — Patroclus

“There is no honor in betraying your friends.” — Patroclus

Madeline Miller's quote: “Homer survives because his poetry was outstanding, yes, but also because he’s been passed down by so many by luminaries like Vergil and Ovid, Shakespeare, James Joyce, and Margaret Atwood, but also by countless others. I wanted to do my part for these tremendous stories.” | Image: AmoDays

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“As for the goddess’s answer, I did not care. I would have no need of her. I did not plan to live after he was gone.” — Patroclus

“If I had had words to speak such a thing, I would have. But there were none that seemed big enough for it, to hold that swelling truth.” — Patroclus

“He collects my ashes himself, though this is a woman’s duty. He puts them in a golden urn, the finest in our camp, and turns to the watching Greeks.” — Patroclus

“Those seconds, half seconds, that the line of our gaze connected, were the only moment in my day that I felt anything at all.” — Patroclus

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Patroclus's quote: “The sound was pure and sweet as water, bright as lemons.” | Image: AmoDays

"THE SONG OF ACHILLES" QUOTES ABOUT DEATH AND DARKNESS

“This is what it will be, every day, without him. I felt a wild-eyed tightness in my chest, like a scream.” — Patroclus

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“The flames surround me, and I feel myself slipping further from life, thinning to only the faintest shiver in the air. I yearn for the darkness and silence of the underworld, where I can rest.” — Patroclus

“He is a weapon, a killer. Do not forget it. You can use a spear as a walking stick, but that will not change its nature.” — Iphigenia

“Achilles’ eyes were bright in the firelight, his face drawn sharply by the flickering shadows. I would know is in dark or disguise, told myself. I would know it even in madness.” — Patroclus

Madeline Miller's quote: “In making Achilles and Patroclus lovers, I wasn’t trying to speak for all gay men, just as when I write straight characters, I don’t claim to speak for all straight people.” | Image: AmoDays

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“When he died, all things soft and beautiful and bright would be buried with him.” — Patroclus

“He was spring, golden and bright. Envious death would drink his blood, and grow young again.” — Patroclus

“You have killed him and taken your vengeance. It is enough.” — Thetis

“It is right to seek peace for the dead. You and I both know there is no peace for those who live after.” — Priam

“When I am dead, I charge you to mingle our ashes and bury us together.” — Achilles

Patroclus's quote: “Achilles’ eyes were bright in the firelight, his face drawn sharply by the flickering shadows. I would know is in dark or disguise, told myself. I would know it even in madness.” | Image: AmoDays

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“He smiled, and his face was like the sun.” — Patroclus

“Achilles weeps. He cradles me, and will not eat, nor speak a word other than my name.” — Patroclus

“I rose and rubbed my limbs, slapped them awake, trying to ward off a rising hysteria.” — Patroclus

"THE SONG OF ACHILLES" QUOTES THAT DELVE INTO THE AUTHOR'S MIND

“Divine blood flows differently in each god-born child.” — Madeline Miller

“It had warmth as a fire does, a texture and weight like polished ivory. It buoyed and soothed at once.” — Madeline Miller

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Patroclus's quote: “When he died, all things soft and beautiful and bright would be buried with him.” | Image: Amodays

“Exile might satisfy the anger of the living, but it did not appease the dead.” — Madeline Miller

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“In the darkness, two shadows, reaching through the hopeless, heavy dusk. Their hands meet, and light spills in a flood like a hundred golden urns pouring out of the sun.” — Madeline Miller

“Take Odysseus’ wife, Penelope, a brilliant, resourceful woman who ends up in a terrible situation — in her husband’s absence, she is being held hostage in her own home by men who claim to be courting her. She tries to make them leave, but because she’s a woman they refuse, blaming their bad behavior on her desirability.” — Madeline Miller

Madeline Miller's quote: “A part of what makes myths live is their multiplicity, the way different voices retell them in every generation.” | Image: AmoDays

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“People are people, whatever age they’re living in. The circumstances may have changed — we go to war with planes instead of chariots, but experiences of grief, longing, rage, and love remain the same.” — Madeline Miller

“In making Achilles and Patroclus lovers, I wasn’t trying to speak for all gay men, just as when I write straight characters, I don’t claim to speak for all straight people.” — Madeline Miller

“A part of what makes myths live is their multiplicity, the way different voices retell them in every generation.” — Madeline Miller

Patroclus's quote: “I stopped watching for ridicule, the scorpion’s tail hidden in his words. He said what he meant; he was puzzled if you did not.” | Image: AmoDays

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“Life for women in ancient Greece was hard—you had to fight for every inch of ground you got. Both Thetis and Briseis are strong, passionate women and in another time and place their lives would have been very different.” — Madeline Miller

“Homer survives because his poetry was outstanding, yes, but also because he’s been passed down by so many, by luminaries like Vergil and Ovid, Shakespeare, James Joyce, and Margaret Atwood, but also by countless others. I wanted to do my part for these tremendous stories.” — Madeline Miller

“Perhaps such things pass for virtue among the gods. But, how is there glory in taking life?” — Madeline Miller

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“Part of the tragedy of their characters is how much they have to offer and how little of that they get to realize.” — Madeline Miller

Patroclus's quote: “Her mouth was a gash of red, like the torn-open stomach of a sacrifice, bloody and oracular. Behind it, her teeth shone sharp and white as bone.” | Image: AmoDays

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If you aren’t familiar with Greek literature, Miller’s “The Song of Archilles” is the perfect introduction to a rich world of stories about the gods, goddesses, heroes, and rituals of Ancient Greeks.

The novel received overall positive critical reviews from publications such as the Guardian and the Washington Post. If you’re in need of a fresh read, this book, and the many memorable quotes you’ll get from them are perfect for you.

If you loved these quotes, you'll love this compilation of quotes from the wise Uncle Iroh.

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