On Retelling Greek Classics: An Exploration of the Modern Epics with Madeline Miller

Presented on: Thursday, March 21st at 7:00 PM EDT



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You’re invited to a fascinating exploratory conversation with Madeline Miller, bestselling author of The Song of Achilles and Circe, as she chats with us about her body of work and her process in retelling Greek classics into modern epics in fiction. 

In The Song of Achilles, Achilles, "the best of all the Greeks," son of the cruel sea goddess Thetis and the legendary king Peleus, is strong, swift, and beautiful, irresistible to all who meet him. Patroclus is an awkward young prince, exiled from his homeland after an act of shocking violence. Brought together by chance, they forge an inseparable bond, despite risking the gods' wrath.

When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, all the heroes of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the cruel Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.

In Circe, to Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child--neither powerful like her father nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power: the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts, and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus. But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from or with the mortals she has come to love.

About the Author: Madeline Miller is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of two novels: The Song of Achilles, which won the Orange Women’s Prize for Fiction 2012, and Circe, which was short-listed for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019. Her books have been translated into over thirty two languages. Miller holds an MA in Classics from Brown University, studied in the Dramaturgy department at Yale School of Drama, where she focused on the adaptation of classical texts to modern forms, and taught Latin, Greek, and Shakespeare to high school students for over a decade.


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