i’m still fucked up over achilles being oscar’s favourite “character in romance” but i think i might be able to talk about it with some semblance of coherence now
one main thing is that achilles is mainly characterised as a warrior, a war hero, aristos achaion, all that epic iliad stuff. and there comes oscar wilde, in 1877, when “greek love” was used as coded language for homosexuality, and calls achilles his favourite character in romance. it fucks me up.
of course, i don’t know that oscar was thinking of his connection with patroclus, but from what i know about oscar it seems plausible to me. plato referred to achilles and patroclus as lovers, oscar with his classics knowledge and interest for greek things must have known this. i mean, he wrote in that famous letter to bosie “i know hyacinthus, whom apollo loved so madly, was you in greek days”. oscar knew his gay greeks, and i don’t think it’s improbable that he meant that achilles was romantic with patroclus. which brings us back to why i’m crying.
but it doesn’t end there! because then he goes on to say that alexander, which i can only assume means alexander the great, is his favourite character in history. alexander, who took inspiration from achilles and patroclus in his own companionship with hephaestion.
i guess i’m emotional because in a very dangerous time to be non-straight, oscar still had characters to see himself in. representation is important to us today, but imagine what it must have been like then, when he literally ended up behind bars for this “greek love”, to have that? wow.
so anyway, i will cry about this for the next five to ten years. bye.
ps. this information, about oscar’s favourite characters, comes from merlin holland’s ‘the wilde album’.