Anyway, if you’re interested in both Classics and LBGT literature, then I would very seriously urge you to put down The Song of Achilles and pick up An Arrow’s Flight by Mark Merlis. It’s a fantastic retelling of Sophocles’ Philoctetes, a tragedy in which the son of Achilles, Pyrrhus, is manipulated by the callous warmonger Odysseus into stealing a prophesied weapon from the incurably wounded Philoctetes so that the Greeks can conquer Troy. In Mark Merlis’ version, Pyrrhus is a young gay prostitute, the Trojan War is one of the many vague cruel expectations of heroic hypermasculinity, Odysseus is a ruthless 1980s politician who sees the gay community as political scapegoats, and Philoctetes’ incurable wound is HIV.
It’s not the sort of dreamily romantic fanfiction I think most of us expect from LBGT-revisionist retellings of the Classics (which stories I do enjoy! and which stories I think most definitely do have a place & a purpose!), but it is a frank and unflinching examination of the USA’s gay community during the AIDS crisis, as viewed through the clever lens of Greek tragedy. I seriously recommend that Classics students with an interest in LBGT history check it out. General content warnings include explicit sex, slurs, and homophobia & serophobia.
I mean, this is crazy. There are literally thousands of people in Camelot, and out of everyone you could have picked to mess with, you pick me. I mean, if there was an Olympics for bad luck, you didn’t just medal, pal. You Michael Phelps-ed it.
Merlin [to Cedric], The Curse of Cornelius Sigan