No because we need to talk about how absolutely hilarious it was when Patroclus kissed Achilles in front of Briseis.
Like please imagine yourself as Briseis. You’re living in your small farming village outside of Troy with your family. There’s been talk of war, but not just any war, a war that’s going to be spoken about for centuries. A terrible, bloody thing where men will die by the thousands. You’ve all heard the whispers on the wind- The Greeks have Achilles. The greatest warrior of your time. The boy who can’t be killed.
They descend upon the farming villages first, as you all knew they would. It’s strategic- Dismantle the working class and the royalty will follow. You’re holed up somewhere in a barn with a group of children behind you, some of them your siblings, some of them family friends, when the men enter the building. You know what that means. If they’re taking the time to search and loot the village, all the able bodied men are dead. Your father is dead. You don’t have time to process it before one of the Greeks pulls you to your feet and carries you away. He leaves the children. You’re the only one old enough to be considered a prize.
You’re standing on a podium, clothes tattered and covered in mud. Your hair is wind swept and tangled. Your hands are bound and there’s a thousand eyes tracing your body. You know why you’re here; your mother had pulled you aside a few nights before the war started and sat you down. She told you about the girls who get taken. She needed you to be prepared- as prepared as you could be. You think you’re going to this barbaric looking King who’s much taller than you and much broader than you- Terrifying, loud, and proud. Some of the worst things a man can be.
But then you’re turned in the other direction, to face another leader, a Prince to be exact, and you feel the color drain from your face. They’ve spoken of bright blonde hair and a nimble body, green eyes and bloodied hands. You’d seen him in your nightmares. Achilles. Aristos Achaion. The savior of the Greeks, kills a hundred men by the day. He wants you and he’s not taking no for an answer. Not only are princes known for their appetites but he’s young, younger than the rest by years, and you know that only means he'll be all the more ravenous. The rumors say that he's half god, and the stories of his presence on the battlefield speak enough of his stamina- He won't tire easily like the old Kings might.
Now you’re in his tent, you and him and another boy. His advisor, maybe? His right hand, at least, to be so comfortable in the Prince's tent. That boy approaches you slowly, timidly, speaking gibberish to you in hushing tones. Did you miss something? Did Achilles bring you back as a present for this man? Why was Achilles still here, then? To ensure you behave? As if you weren’t equally terrified of them both. The companion touches you and it’s gentle. Your mother told you it was a rarity and you should be eternally grateful if they’re gentle. Be gracious, she said, but you can’t bring yourself to do it. You flinch away, lash out. There’s a pause, a few more words, and he tries again. You kick away.
He huffs. He’s annoyed. Frustrated. You’re making it worse for yourself, you know you are. He straightens up, glancing around the tent- for what, you don’t know, and then suddenly, he’s grabbing Achilles by the shirt and dragging him into a kiss. A kiss. Not the way your father greets his friends, but the way your father greets your mother. It’s hard pressed, white knuckle grip releasing from a wrinkled tunic. And now Achilles, Aristos Achaion, the boy who can’t be killed, is standing there with reddened cheeks and eyes wide as saucers.
And now this companion of his, this much smaller, much less proud boy, this boy who’s not suited for war in any regard, stands there with nothing shameful on his face, and motions between the two of them at you, as if to say- This man you fear, this half god, this man who kills by the hundreds, this man who will kill multitudes by the time he dies, this boy who can’t be killed, he answers to me and we won’t hurt you.
The saddest part of Song of Achilles isn't the fact that Patroclus or Achilles died.
It's the fact that Patroclus had to sit and watch as Achilles lost his mind. He watched helplessly as Achilles went and killed Hector so violently and fulfill the prophecy, which then led to his own death.
Patroclus watched the love of his life slowly kill himself and there was absolutely nothing he could've done to prevent it.
“i love him.”
“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.”
“She is a goddess, beautiful and terrifying”
Thetis, inspired by my recent reading of The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller