Boldly imagined and exquisitely written, For the Most Beautiful, a debut novel by classicist Emily Hauser, chronicles the defeat of Troy through the eyes of female characters almost entirely disregarded in Homer’s Iliad — Briseis, princess of Pedasus, and Krisayis, daughter of the High Priest of Troy. In this Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE) exclusive, James Blake Wiener interviews Emily Hauser, asking questions as to the difficulties she faced in writing her first novel, and why ancient Troy lingers so vividly in the western imagination.
As a young girl growing up in New York City, Madeline Miller felt a strong attachment to the literature and culture of Greco-Roman civilization. Mesmerized by the heroic exploits of Hercules, Achilles, and Aeneas, Miller pursued her passion at Brown University, where she received a BA and MA in Latin and Ancient Greek. Miller also studied in the Dramaturgy department at Yale University’s School of Drama, where she learned the art of adapting classical texts to modern tastes.
In Miller’s debut novel, The Song of Achilles, the timeless tale of Homer’s Iliad is given new form and direction via the perspective of Achilles’ beloved companion, Patroclus. The heart of the novel is tale of friendship and love between two men, with interlocking fates. Seamlessly blending Homeric convention with modern diction, Miller’s novel is an absorbing and enchanting read. In this interview, James Blake Wiener of the Ancient History Encyclopedia took the time to speak with Miller about her new novel and what inspired her to write about the ancient world.