Home Forums Litterae Forum The Iliad Were Achilles and Patroclus lovers?

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    If, as the Ancients assumed, Patroclus and Achilles were lovers rather than merely comrades, does that change our reading of The Iliad? Does the romantic subtext make the work more or less heroic?


    Tim Chrapkiewicz

    Yes, no doubt. The problem that we have in the 21st century is what exactly is meant by lovers. In todays society the term lover has connotations of a sexual nature . . . more physical and less cerebral. I’m not quite sure that is what the ancients thought about as “love”. Not being present 2,700-plus years ago I can just speculate, however, after reading Plato’s Symposium, I got the feeling that physical (i.e. sexual) love was more basal and that the cerebral love was the “feeling” they were looking for. An older male was meant to be a mentor to a younger man, just as a father, today, is considered a mentor to his son. Likewise a father “loves” his son . . . obviously not sexually, but in a more cerebral context.

    I’m thinking that this is the love between Patroclus and Achilles . . . although I’m not sure that the analogy exactly fits as Petroclus is older than Achilles but you get my point.

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