Friday, April 20, 2018

From an AMA with Madeline Miller

I think Heath Ledger might have made a wonderful Achilles. He wasn't in my mind when I wrote, but after the book came out, I was watching 10 Things I Hate About You for the first time (I know, I am behind the times), and thought of it


In the case of Circe, it took me five years, and I threw out 500 pages before I could get to my actual first sentence. But after that it goes faster, thankfully!


I have always loved Philoctetes, who gets a brief mention in both The Song of Achilles and Circe. He's Heracles' friend who lights the funeral pyre to incinerate Heracles and make him a god. In thanks, Heracles gives him his magic bow. But on the way to the Trojan War, he is bitten by a magical snake and the wound festers, weeping and stinking. So Odysseus leaves him on the island, where he spends the next TEN YEARS alone, with his excruciating, foul wound. Then the Greeks realize that there's a prophecy that they can't defeat Troy unless he fights on their side. So they have to go retrieve him. And he's NOT HAPPY. This is all the subject of a gorgeous, moving tragedy by Sophocles (Philoctetes), which is one of my all-time favorite pieces of ancient poetry. Philoctetes' monologues about being old and in pain, and feeling left behind by the world are heart-breaking. Even though it has a surprisingly happy ending for a tragedy, it still makes me tear up.

Trivia fact: Philoctetes is the one who kills Paris.