By Darya SemchukThu. 16 May. 20245min Read

Series Explained: The Song Of Achilles Summary

Transport yourself back to the Greek Heroic Age and immerse yourself in the grand tale of the Trojan War, as seen through the perspective of Patroclus.
Series Explained: The Song Of Achilles Summary

If you love the epic tales of ancient Greece but couldn't quite find the time to delve into the entirety of The Song of Achilles series, fear not! We're here to provide a concise journey through the captivating narrative penned by Madeline Miller.

This series, rooted in Greek mythology, intricately weaves the lives of legendary figures like Achilles and Patroclus, offering a fresh perspective on their bond and love and the tumultuous events surrounding the Trojan War.

Please be warned:
 There are massive spoilers for the entire The Song of Achilles series ahead!

So, please sit back and let us guide you through the captivating world of
The Song of Achilles.

Summary of The Song of Achilles (The Song Of Achilles #1)

The Song Of Achilles book cover image

  • Book Title: The Song Of Achilles
  • Author: Madeline Miller
  • Year Published: 2011 
  • Goodreads Rating: 4.33/5 
  • Availability: Purchase it from Amazon

Madeline Miller's "The Song of Achilles" is a mesmerizing reimagining of Greek mythology. It focuses on the deep bond between Achilles, the legendary hero of the Trojan War, and Patroclus, an exiled prince. Through lyrical prose, Miller brings to life the emotional complexities of their relationship, from their childhood friendship to their eventual romance.

Set against the backdrop of the Trojan War, the novel explores themes of love, honor, fate, and the human condition, offering a fresh perspective on timeless characters and events. As the narrative unfolds, readers are swept into a world of gods and mortals, where the power of love and the weight of destiny collide in an unforgettable tale of heroism and sacrifice.

The story is told from the perspective of Patroclus, who, after his father exiled him to live in the court of Peleus, soon falls in love with his host's son, the superhuman Achilles. From childhood, his demi-god status means he is swifter, more beautiful, and more skilled than all his peers.

Astonishingly, to Patroclus's eyes, Achilles returns his love, and the two boys grow into adulthood and have a love affair. Achilles remains a godlike figure to Patroclus: "Then I turned to look at him. He was on his side, watching me. I had not heard him turn. I never heard him."

The sense of impending tragedy is never far away from these lovers. Achilles has long known that he must choose between a short, glorious life and a long one in obscurity. Miller ramps up the dramatic irony inherent in their story. Both know Achilles will never return from Troy: he is fated to die there. But Patroclus is too obscure to figure in prophecies, so he dreads the horror of life after Achilles's death: "I rose and rubbed my limbs, slapped them awake, trying to ward off a rising hysteria. This is what it will be, every day, without him. I felt a wild-eyed tightness in my chest, like a scream. Every day, without him."


How Did The Song Of Achilles End?

After Patroclus is killed, his body is burned, and his ashes are added to an urn. Later, Achilles is also killed, and his ashes are placed in the same urn. Patroclus feels Achilles' ashes against his own and longs to be buried with him. The others then build a tomb for Achilles.


Patroclus cannot find peace because he is not buried with Achilles. He whispers to Odysseus, who attempts to persuade Achilles' son to bury Patroclus' ashes with his father's, but the request is refused. As the Greeks depart, Patroclus laments that his hopes went with them.

Summary of Galatea (The Song OAchilles #2)

Galatea book cover image

  • Book Title: Galatea 
  • Author: Madeline Miller
  • Year Published: July 4, 2013
  • Goodreads Rating: 3.93/5 
  • Availability: Purchase it from Amazon

In "Galatea," the main character, Galatea, once a statue, is now alive thanks to her husband's prayers to the goddess. Galatea is kept hidden because her husband fears others are unworthy of the goddess' gift.

When Galatea wonders why he didn’t just marry a girl from the town, Galatea, above all, exists to fulfill his fantasies and ideal of beauty and virtue.
When her husband visits her, they undergo a strange and rehearsed ritual in which Galatea pretends to be asleep (and fights the desire to feign a snore). He exclaims that she must be made of stone because how could a real woman be so beautiful? She then wakes from the stone, and as Galatea explains bluntly, “That’s when I’m supposed to open my eyes like a dewy fawn, and see him poised over me like the sun, and make a little gasping noise of wonder and gratitude and…” you know the rest. During this one visit, Galatea finds out that he is working on a new statue – this one for himself, he says, of a ten-year-old girl. Galatea seems jealous (or, more likely, unsettled and worried about this girl’s future, if it’s anything like hers). Her husband then notices the stretch marks on her stomach, asks how long they have been there, and calls them ugly, saying he would chisel them off if she were still made of stone.

We learn that Galatea and her husband have a ten-year-old daughter together, Paphos, who was conceived the first time they were together. Galatea misses her daughter dearly, who is also beautiful and stone-pale. A tutor taught Paphos some lessons, and she passed these on to Galatea in secret, but her husband sent the tutor away after a fit of jealousy.
Galatea believes that her husband didn’t expect her to be able to talk.  He only thought of her beauty and body when he wished her to live. Now, her husband admonishes her growing lack of shame and humility, physically abusing her and leaving her covered in bruises.

One day, with a bit of money found on the street, Galatea and Paphos set off for the countryside in secret, but they are too easily identifiable and found soon after. She knows she must be more devious to craft an escape route.
On another visit from her husband, Galatea tells him that she is pregnant, which he says is not possible because he leaves his seed on her stomach. But she puffs out her stomach and says that with the gods, anything is possible. The doctor gives Galatea tea to abort the pregnancy; she waits until he is gone and then doubles over in pain and tells the nurses that they must fetch the doctor back. As soon as the nurse leaves her, Galatea escapes and runs towards the town. She sees Paphos asleep at her house and doesn’t want to frighten her. So she finds a pot of sand, spills a little on the floor, and spells out Paphos.

She then enters her husband’s studio, sees the new statue of the girl in the center of the room, and then goes to her husband’s bedroom. “Ah, my beauty is asleep,” she says as he would say to her before joining her in bed. Then, she runs out of the house, and he rushes after her.
He follows her towards the sea, grabbing her in the water and expecting her to fight. But she doesn’t, and instead seizes him around the ribs, and the weight pulls them both under. As she returns to her roots and uses the gift she was born with – heavy, heavy stone – we hear, “He had no chance. He was only flesh.”

How Did Things We Left Behind End?

Before sinking to the bottom of the ocean floor, Galatea thinks of Paphos and her stone sister. Then, she imagines how the crabs will come for her husband, and she settles into the ocean floor and sleeps.

Does Galatea die at the end?
 At least in my interpretation, yes. Galatea sacrifices herself to kill her husband so that her daughter can be free and the new statue of a girl will not come to life and suffer.

Summary of Circe (The Song OAchilles #3)

Circe book cover image

  • Book Title: Circe
  • Author: Madeline Miller
  • Year Published: April 10, 2018
  • Goodreads Rating: 4.24/5 
  • Availability: Purchase it from Amazon

Circe, the daughter of the titan Helios and naiad Perse, falls in love with the mortal fisherman Glaucus. She transforms him into a god using the sap of magical flowers, but he rejects her for a nymph. Circe's jealousy makes her accidentally turn the nymph into a six-headed monster. She confesses her deeds to Helios, who realizes that all his children with Perse are witches capable of extracting power from herbs and draughts.

After admitting her witchcraft, Circe is banished by Zeus to eternal exile on the island of Aiaia. During exile, she studies and hones her witchcraft, tending gardens, and experimenting with draughts. Over the centuries in Aia, Circe interacts with many mythic figures. She receives visits from the Olympian god Hermes, with whom she becomes a lover. She is once escorted off the island by the mortal Daedalus at the request of Circe's sister and the Queen of Crete, Pasiphaë. During the brief visit to Crete, Circe helps her sister birth the Minotaur and uses her witchcraft to help tame the monster. Many years later, the hero Jason and his wife, the witch Medea (Circe's niece), arrive on Aiaia after having stolen the Golden Fleece from Circe's brother Aeëtes, murdering Medea's brother Absyrtus in the process. Circe cleanses them of the crime and warns Medea of Jason's waning interest but is rebuffed.

Circe becomes lonely after her confrontation with Medea and is excited to host a group of sad sailors who arrive one night in Aiaia for food and rest. However, once the sailors realize that Circe lives alone on the island with no men to protect her, the ship captain rapes her. Circe then uses her witchcraft to kill all of the men. Remorseful about having killed so many men and now wary of visitors, when the next ship comes to her island, she uses her witchcraft to transform the men into pigs.

Circe bestows the same fate upon hundreds more sailors who come to her island over the coming years. One particular ship arrives led by the hero Odysseus, who charms Circe into sparing his crew and hosting them on her island over the winter. Odysseus and his crew ultimately stay in Aiaia for one year, during which a romance grows between Circe and Odysseus. After Odysseus leaves to journey back to Ithaca, Circe gives birth to a son, Telegonus.

How Did
Circe End?

After raising her son Telegonus, Circe realizes that goddess Athena poses a threat to him. To protect the island, Circe casts a spell while Telegonus grows up. As a teenager, Telegonus asks to leave the island to meet his father. Circe reluctantly agrees and gives him the tail of the stingray god Trygon on a spear. However, when Telegonus meets his father, Odysseus attacks him and accidentally kills him with the poisoned spear. Telegonus feels guilty and returns home with Odysseus' wife, Penelope, and son Telemachus.

After losing Odysseus, Athena visits Aiaia to offer her patronage to Telemachus, who refuses. Telegonus accepts his place and begins his heroic journey. Feeling lonely without her son, Circe negotiates with Helios to end her exile. With Telemachus' help, Circe uses the poison spear to turn Scylla to stone and gathers more of the flowers she once used on Glaucos. Finding love with Telemachus, Circe uses the flowers' magic on herself to become mortal and live out her days traveling with Telemachus.

How to Read The Song of Achilles on PDF

Reading The Song of Achilles on PDF Reader Pro offers convenience, customization, and efficiency. Features like customizable settings, annotation tools, and search functionality allow you to personalize your reading experience and easily navigate the text.

The digital format also reduces environmental impact by eliminating the need for paper copies. 


Get Started with PDF Reader Pro Today!

PDF Reader Pro enhances your reading experience by providing a seamless and eco-friendly way to engage with the story.

Get Started with PDF Reader Pro Today!