Talk:Achilles and Patroclus

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I removed a link to Classical definition of effeminacy which Dbachmann had added. I'm not sure how it's directly relevant to the discussion of Achilles and Patroclus — I don't recall Achilles or Patroclus being described as an example of ἀνανδρία or μαλακία. Obviously the Homeric and modern sections need work, and if either word is used with reference to these two in Homer the link should be restored, I suppose; but it's not a quality I tend to associate with either of these two. Of course, differing opinions are welcome; I don't own this page. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 20:14, 13 March 2006 (UTC)

Unclear declaration[edit]

"It is not possible to designate the roles found in the Iliad between Achilles and Patroclus along pederastic lines. Achilles is the most dominant"

If something is unclear to ascertain and how can this declarative statement be made? I'm just a bit confused by this. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 15:14, April 23, 2006 (UTC)

What is confusing? Haiduc 20:34, 23 April 2006 (UTC)
The sentence is unclear. I'm pretty sure it means something like "The relationship of Achilles and Patroclus does not conform to the pederastic erastes/eromenos relationship familar to us from classical Athens," which would be clearer. It might be helpful to mention that the Iliad portrays Achilles as younger than Patroclus, and if their relationship were a pederastic one, that would make Achilles the eromenos, the more passive partner. --Akhilleus (talk) 05:04, 1 May 2006 (UTC)
It might be simpler to say that their relationship is seen as an example of warrior same-sex love in the style of Gilgamesh and Enkidu (if I can find a source I'll post it) and that it probably predates the formal adoption of pederastic practices. Haiduc 10:23, 1 May 2006 (UTC)
One good source for that comparison is David Halperin's article, "Heroes and their Pals," in his book, "One Hundred Years of Homosexuality" (Halperin, David M., One Hundred Years of Homosexuality: and Other Essays on Greek Love. New York: Routledge, 1990. London: Routledge, 1990.). You can find a scholarly review of this book here: Halperin's article also compares the David/Jonathan relationship from the Biblical Books of Samuel and Kings. All three stories definitely pre-date the 6th-5th century pederastic practices of Athens; I added a note about Halperin's argument in the article. (talk) 04:06, 18 January 2012 (UTC)meerkat7


From what I remember the friendship between Achilles and Patroclus which was the whole theme of the Iliad, was the "Warth of Achilles" and what was Achilles so worked up (wrathful) about? How about the fact that Agamemnon took his booty slave girl know the same slave girl he slept with at night. Which became the MAIN reason of why he left the battle field and wasn't it Patroculus who sought Achilles out to return to battle only to have Achilles turn his back on Patroculus; only to not be there when his close friend Patroculus was killed. Lets see how many military men who form close friendships with one another walk away from battle because of some chick, turn their backs on their friends when they are sought out to return to battle to help the team out, only to learn later on that their close buddies were killed in the same battle and would not react the way Achilles does. So yeah, he would be hunted by his actions which caused the death of his close friend. The idea that the glorification of friendship that the Greeks so admired could have been nothing more than an excuse for sodomy, is totally ridiculous in its self.

Also regarding the following paragraph:

Evidence of this debate is found in a speech by an Athenian politician, Aeschines, at his trial in 345 BC. Aeschines in placing an emphasis on the importance of pederasty to the Greeks argues that though Homer does not state it explicitly, educated people should be able to read between the lines. “Although (Homer) speaks in many places of Patroclus and Achilles, he hides their love and avoids giving a name to their friendship, thinking that the exceeding greatness of their affection is manifest to such of his hearers as are educated men.” Most ancient writers followed the thinking laid out by Aeschines.

That is a misleading statement taken from a speech known as The Contra Timarchus (Kata Timarkou; Against Timarchus) Aeschines does not put emphasis on the importance of pederasty in a positive way but a negative way, he uses it to speak against allowing Timarchus his political rights, based on his having spent his adolescence as the kept boy (pederasty) of a series of wealthy men. Neither pederasty nor homosexuality were as widely accepted in ancient Greece as some modern "scholars" would like us to think. Think about it, if pederasty and homosexuality were so openly accepted by ancient Greeks why is it that out of tens of thousands vases/paintings, 80,000 to be exact were found in Attica alone, why is that only about 30 have paintings which might accurately be depicted as homosexual secenes? Why is that some 20th century "scholars" took such a minute precentage and made the absurd charge that they represented the "norm" of ancient Greek society? If that's the case then you might as well say that with all the ponographic material (printed, internet and film) floating around today of homosexuality and kiddie porn that its the "norm" of most modern societies as well. BeNNoulA 6 July 2006 (UTC)

OK, a couple of points:
  • First of all, the article never suggests that the glorification of friendship is "an excuse for sodomy" — it points out that there's a strong historical tradition which viewed the friendship as having a sexual component, which is a very different thing.
  • I haven't read Against Timarchus, but even if the account you give is accurate, it still supports the article's reading: Aeschines refers to Achilles and Patroclus as an example of a sexual relationship between men, which educated readers would recognize. He's probably mentioning it so as to take it out of the arsenal of Timarchus' supporters, who might otherwise point to the Achilles/Patroclus relationship as a positive example — but Aeschines says, in effect, "Homer has the decency not to show the details".
  • The article doesn't deny the importance of Briseis to Achilles — that's just not what the article is about. The reason this has a separate article is that the discussion of the nature of Achilles' relationship to Patroclus (was it sexual or not?) was taking up disproportionate space in the Achilles and Iliad articles. The fact is that the subject has been debated since antiquity, and is still controversial today. If you feel that the article is too heavily weighted towards the interpretation that they were lovers as well as friends, please add cited examples of notable thinkers (ancient or modern) who make the "non-sexual war buddies" argument. The article shouldn't impose one interpretation or another on the legend, but should report what scholars (ancient and modern) have written. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 18:13, 17 July 2006 (UTC)

"The idea that the glorification of friendship that the Greeks so admired could have been nothing more than an excuse for sodomy, is totally ridiculous in its self." This I can't agree with. The realtionship between Achilles and Patroclus throughout the Iliad is contrasted with the relationship between Hektor and Andromache. This is why Achilles feels such intense and unhuman loss at the death of Patroclus. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 13:16, July 30, 2006 (UTC)

For what it's worth, I agree with your reading. By the way, you can sign your posts by typing four tildes, like this: ~~~~. It'll produce a signature and timestamp, like this: —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 17:24, 30 July 2006 (UTC)

I don't have The Iliad in front of me but I seem to recall that after the unsuccessful "embassy" of Odysseus, Ajax and Phoenix to Achilles to implore him to return to the battlefield, it is quite plainly stated by Homer that each of Achilles and Patroclus retired to bed, separately, each accompanied by a captive female who is mentioned in the text. Hardly the actions you would expect of lovers -- although, of course, that could have been an "interpolation" by a later author precisely to dispel any conclusion that they were lovers...Partnerfrance (talk) 21:39, 4 April 2015 (UTC)

Genealogy of Achilles and Patroclus[edit]

If people are going to make them "lovers", should it not be mentioned somewhere in the article that according to their family tree in Greek Mythology they were related through their fathers' side thus making any supposed "sexual relationship" an incestuous one.

Aegina who was the daughter of the river god Asopus was the mother of Menoetius by Actor and the mother of Aeacus by Zeus.

Menoetius mortal King of Opus was the son of Actor & Aegina; and the father of Patroclus.

Aeacus immortal King of Aegina was the son of Zeus & Aegina; and the father Peleus who was in return the father of Achilles.

So basically according to the Greek Mythology Family Tree:

Patroclus and Achilles' dad, Peleus, were 1st cousins, thus making Achilles and Patroclus either: a) 2nd cousins or b) uncle(Patroclus) and nephew(Achilles). In other words Achilles and Patroclus have the same paternal grandmother(Patroclus) and great-grandmother(Achilles), hence the reason why probably ancient Greeks made Patroclus older of the two. Mallaccaos, 28 July 2006

No, they're neither second cousins nor uncle and nephew. They're first cousins once removed. See cousin chart.
And I hope that by "people" you're not referring to the editors of the article: everything here is sourced to ancient authors, so anyone who made Achilles and Patroclus lovers is long since dead. The editors of this article are just reporting the accounts given by ancient authors. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 21:41, 28 July 2006 (UTC)
Ok, first cousins then, since those same ancient writers made them first cousins shouldn't it mentioned in the artcile since it pretains to who they were? Mallaccaos, 28 July 2006
Sure. You can add it if you like, you know; I don't own this page. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 03:41, 29 July 2006 (UTC)
Great!! Thank you. Regards. :) ~Mallaccaos, 29 July 2006
No problem. I hope you don't mind that I edited the section a bit — you generally need to link a name or term only once in an article, not every time it occurs. However, I did link to two separate sections of the incest article which are relevant here: incest#Sexual relations between cousins and other distant relatives and incest#In mythology. I also added "arguably", since first cousins once removed (and half-cousins at that, since Menoetius and Aeacus had different fathers) are on the edge of consanguinity, the rules about which vary in different cultures. (Putting the homosexual element aside, for example, first cousins were not forbidden to marry in the Church of England (see here). —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 21:22, 29 July 2006 (UTC)
Not at all, feel free to edit the paragraph for the better all you want. I also wanted to add that incestuous relationships in the ancient Greek world, while not that common, were known to take place on occasions, such as the Hellenistic Ptolemaic dynasty and the marriage between the Spartan princess Gorgo whom married her half uncle King Leonidas. I just didn't know how to word the whole paragraph without going too off track from the main theme being Achilles and Patroclus. If you can think of a way to word it into the article so it flows nicely feel free to use it, since its public info anyway. Regards. :) ~Mallaccaos, 29 July 2006

The best thing would probably be to find a Wikipedia article discussing incestuous relationships in the ancient Greek world, and link to that (like I linked "in mythology" to incest#in mythology). I think a specific discussion of other examples on the Achilles and Patroclus page is a bit too off-topic (especially since many societies had different rules for actual people and mythological figures), but if there's a suitable discussion elsewhere it would be good to link to it. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 22:43, 29 July 2006 (UTC)

I'm not sure I see the relevance of incest to this article. From our perspective, perhaps A. & P. might be seen as an incestuous relationship, but I think the term usually describes heterosexual relationships. The more important point is that (as far as I know) the ancient Greeks didn't see A. & P. as an incestuous couple. --Akhilleus (talk) 04:00, 31 July 2006 (UTC)

I would tend to agree with most of what you say, but incest says "Incest can occur between same-sex as well as opposite-sex relatives." I don't know enough about sexual taboos in ancient Greek culture to speak to the issue of what they would or wouldn't have considered incestuous (although my instinct says that it wouldn't have been a concern). Mallaccaos seemed to feel strongly that it should be included, and I concurred in the interest of maintaining NPOV. Does anyone know a source we could cite (or link to elsewhere on Wikipedia) about the matter? —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 06:10, 31 July 2006 (UTC)
I just want to add that any modern definition of "incest" is not going to apply here. This is an ancient LITERARY text, and one that was passed down for generations purely orally. The conflation between the time period of the Iliad's composition (roughly 8th century BCE but with material from earlier centuries) and the time of Aeschines and Demosthenes (5th to 4th centuries BCE) is inexcusable: over 300 years had passed between Homer's storytelling (which by no means shows or implies a sexual relationship between these warriors) and the lawcourt attack of Aeschines, which was relying on popular ideas of that time about close relationships between men, and superimposing the entire pederastic institution onto Homer. Distinguishing between these two time periods is crucial, if anyone is going to understand that the later history and understanding of the relationship is different from the original portrayal in Homer. (talk) 04:14, 18 January 2012 (UTC)
Sorry, meant to add that "incest" could not apply to this relationship in ancient Greece of any period. Legally, it tended to be confined not only to male/female relationships but to parent/child relationships. Cousins or foster brothers in some sort of love relationship (even) would not have counted as "incest," especially since it was quite common for uncles to marry nieces in the 5th century BCE, as a way of keeping the family inheritance intact. I'll cite a source when I can find one. (talk) 04:19, 18 January 2012 (UTC)


In disagreement with one line of the article, there were homosexual relationships that were particularly famous of Sparta. Therefore to say that homosexuality did not exist in Greece is simply incorrect. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 22:51, September 7, 2006 (UTC)

Perhaps the sentence was unclear or misleading. Homosexual relationships certainly existed in ancient Greece; however, the Greeks did not, as a rule, categorize sexual relationships by the gender of their participants, so the concept of homosexuality did not exist. There's a detailed discussion at Homosexuality in ancient Greece. I've reworded the sentence to make the distinction clearer here, though. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 03:13, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

Wrath of Achilles[edit]

I seem to recall that Achilles' wrath was against Agamemnon (because of the stolen slave), not Hector. But I wait for more competent opinions before changing the article. Elvetico 08:55, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

When Agamemnon takes Briseis, Akhilles sulks in his tent. When Hektor kills Patroclus, he goes on a killing spree. The latter is μηνις (wrath); the former is more like saying "if you're going to be like that, I'm taking my ball home." —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 09:37, 23 January 2007 (UTC)
Yes, but "Sing, O goddess, the rage of Achilles son of Peleus, that brought countless ills upon the Achaeans." This rage is the one against Agamemnon, isn't it? Elvetico 11:01, 23 January 2007 (UTC)
Yes, Achilles' rage/wrath/anger (mēnis) is caused by Agamemnon's theft of Briseis. Achilles is obviously quite upset when Patroclus is killed, but his anger at Hector is never called mēnis, as far as I know. Nevertheless, at least a few people who write about the Iliad say that Achilles has a second mēnis after Patroclus is killed. At any rate, I agree that the article is in error when it says "the death of Patroclus is the prime motivation of Achilles' wrath, the subject of the poem." --Akhilleus (talk) 16:50, 23 January 2007 (UTC)
Akhilleus (the Wikipedian) is right. This article is out of line. Probably a result of its being tagged as a part of "LGBT studies" rather than "classical studies", which gives us "LGBT students" looking at classical literature, rather than classical philologists evaluating homoerotic aspects of the Iliad. The claim that "knowing whether Achilles was erastes and Patroclus eromenos, whether the opposite was true, or whether their love was egalitarian, is crucial to the thematic makeup of the Iliad" is just preposterous. All you need to know to understand the "thematic makeup of the Iliad" is that there was love between Achilleus and Patroclus. If this love had an erotic aspect, and if so who was on top, is really not the most urgent question the reader needs to consider. --dab (𒁳) 08:22, 3 November 2010 (UTC)
Agree with Dbachmann and Akhilleus the Wikipedian. If I may be blunt, the article seems to exist only as a battleground between those who want to claim Achilles as a gay icon, and homophobes with a preconception of what makes a 'manly man' and without any understanding of ancient Greek homosexuality. In addition to a sad lack of sources for most claims, the article seems to operate on the assumption that there is a reality that can be uncovered, as if the true sexuality of Achilles and Patroclus can be determined through historical methods. In fact the sexuality of Achilles and Patroclus exists for us only in the various fictional portrayals. The Homeric version is no more "real" than an Alexandrian version: they are all just expressions of the artists and culture that produced them. And sheesh, until a couple of minutes ago, the article used the verb 'blossomed' of the relationship. Cynwolfe (talk) 17:40, 30 November 2011 (UTC)

Removed spoken word sources[edit]

There used to be a link to an .ogg file of a spoken-word version of the myth on this page. It was removed a while back, but the following box remained:

The Achilles and Patroclus myth as told by story tellers
Bibliography of reconstruction: Homer Iliad, 9.308, 16.2, 11.780, 23.54 (700 BC); Pindar Olympian Odes, IX (476 BC); Aeschylus Myrmidons, F135-36 (495 BC); Euripides Iphigenia in Aulis, (405 BC); Plato Symposium, 179e (388 BC-367 BC); Statius Achilleid, 161, 174, 182 (96 CE)

As far as I can tell, this box was just a list of sources used by whoever compiled the spoken-word version of the myth; since that's been deleted, the box is superfluous. However, it does seem to be a decent partial listing of the ancient sources which refer to Achilles and Patroclus, so I'm leaving it here. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 04:34, 6 October 2013 (UTC)

[citation needed][edit]

"He dreams that all Greeks would die so that he and Patroclus might gain the fame of conquering Troy alone[citation needed]." It's a quote from Achilles from the Iliad. So one can debate if he dreams about it, but why does it have the tag it has? Someone just create an Ilaid footnote to the proper section. It may be one of the oddest comments Achilles makes in all the Iliad, wishing all his other friends to die. He received Ajax and Odysseus as friends at his ship, making it clear his anger was for Agamemnon and Agamemnon only. -- (talk) 23:47, 9 December 2013 (UTC)

Literary Significance?[edit]

Before anything, hi, I'm a university student editor for this page. I hope to make this article better, but I understand my limitations.

The literary significance section has been labeled as not being written in encyclopedic style since 2010, and so I'm attempting to rewrite and clarify the section appropriately. In doing so, I've noticed that much of the information in the section seems irrelevant to a discussion about the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus,(ex: the discussion of death as a theme in Homer doesn't really add anything of importance). I plan to remove much of what is written, but is there any particular reason it was added that I'm just not getting? Kjimenez25 (talk) 15:10, 2 December 2016 (UTC)

In the end I completely deleted the section and inserted what seemed relevant elsewhere. I neglected to include the perspective that their relationship was egalitarian, for lack of having found material that spoke of that perspective explicitly in my research. If anyone finds the part in KJ Dover's book where he speaks about the egalitarian interpretation, I encourage them to add it.
I also added more relevant context about what occurs between Achilles and Patroclus in the Iliad. Earlier comments expressed frustration that the page is a battleground over different interpretations of this relationship, and I thought adding more about what is explicitly mentioned in the text would make it clearer to the reader that the view of A&P as somehow romantically/sexually involved is a discussion that sprang from Ancient Greek cultural understandings rather than from Homer himself.
Lastly, I reworded and consolidated some of the good, existing ideas on this page for clarity and to help keep the page more concise. Part of this endeavor was also inserting new citations where there were none previously, or to replace older citations that could no longer be accessed. Kjimenez25 (talk) 06:40, 10 December 2016 (UTC)