NARRATOR: The sculpture in front of you shows on the right Achilles holding in his arms the dead body of his friend Patroclus. This is a key event in Homer's ancient poem, the Iliad, about the war of the Greeks against the City of Troy. Hector, the mighty Trojan warrior, kills Patroclus but hears his own death predicted in the dying man's last breath.
HOMER: You too, I swear it, have not long to live. Already Destiny and Death are very close to you, death at the hands of Achilles.
NARRATOR: There was a battle over the body and the Trojans stripped it of the magical armour that Patroclus had borrowed from Achilles. The Greeks fought back against this final insult to reclaim the body and sent word back to their camp.
HOMER: Suddenly Achilles gave a loud and dreadful cry, and his Mother Thetis heard him where she sat in the depths of the sea..... Then she herself took up the cry of grief, and there gathered round her every goddess… .. that was in the deep salt sea....
NARRATOR: If you look at the left-hand-side of the sculpture you can see Thetis being supported by her nymphs as she reaches out to Achilles.
HOMER: 'Mother… . my dearest friend is dead, Patroclus, … whom I loved as much as my own life? … … And Hector, who killed him, has stripped him of my splendid armour… .I have no wish to live and linger in the world of men, unless, before all else, Hector is felled by my spear and dies, paying the price for slaughtering Patroclus.
NARRATOR: Achilles was as good as his word and swiftly avenged his friend.
EXHIBITION: If you could keep only one memory, what would it be? This summer the V&A presents a dramatic vision of the future through an immersive exhibition experience. Sky Arts Ignition: Memory Palace is a walk-in story that brings to life a new work of fiction by the author Hari Kunzru.