The Shield of Achilles in Homer's Iliad Essay

The Shield of Achilles in Homer's Iliad Essay

Length: 1091 words (3.1 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Throughout the Iliad the warriors' dream of peace is projected over and over again in elaborate similes developed against a background of violence and death. Homer is able to balance the celebration of war's tragic, heroic values with scenes of battle and those creative values of civilized life that war destroys. The shield of Achilles symbolically represents the two poles of human condition, war and peace, with their corresponding aspects of human nature, the destructive and creative, which are implicit in every situation and statement of the poem and are put before us in something approaching abstract form; its emblem is an image of human life as a whole.

 

Forged by Hephaestus, this shield includes all manner of imagery to dazzle and overawe Achilles' opponents. Made out of bronze, tin, and priceless gold and silver, this glittering, triple-ply "world of gorgeous immortal work" is blazoned with "well-wrought emblems across its surface." Starting out describing the earth, the sea, and the sky, Homer goes into detail and uses imagery to talk about such specifics as the "blazing sun," the "moon rounding full," and "the constellations, all that crown the heavens." .

 

He then starts going into detail about the two mortal cities. The first city opens with a description of a wedding and a wedding feast. Sharing details such as the glowing torches, the choirs singing, the young men dancing with flutes and harps, and the women who rushed to the doors, were moved with wonder. Then it goes into a mass of people streaming into the marketplace where a quarrel had broken out and two men struggled over the blood-price for a kinsman just murdered. Their quarreling is settled when they call for a ...


... middle of paper ...


...r to Menelaus now. Thee tapestry is too intricately woven, so as the central blame is Helen, most of the individuals involved are in the war for widely different motives.

 

This war involves a human side, including the admission of fear and scenes of domestic life, not in a sentimentalized version. This more complete and responsible depiction shows that there's not one single center to the war, just as there's not one single god for the Greeks.

 

Running along the outermost rim of the shield is the Ocean River, the river that is at once the barrier between the quick and the dead, and also the frontier of the known and imagined worlds. One of the last descriptions on the shield, this river could perhaps be a symbol for total inclusiveness and eternity, and for the stability of the larger perspective.

 

 

 

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Homer’s Iliad - The Shield of Achilles Essay

- Homer’s Iliad - The Shield of Achilles Homer devotes the final passages of Book 18 of The Iliad to the description of the shield of Achilles. Only a quarter of the description concerns warfare, the essential grist of the epic. Instead, the bulk of the description presents a peaceful society and rural idylls, a curious choice for the most ferocious warrior of the Greeks, and an odd thing for both armies to fear. A narrative emerges from the scenes of the shield, and it is this that fits Achilles and repulses everyone else....   [tags: Iliad essays]

Strong Essays
1597 words (4.6 pages)

Essay about The Iliad, by Homer

- The Iliad written by Homer in the days of Ancient Greece has become one of the most epic poems of all time. It is a poem that has been debated for centuries. Within the tale of Achilles and the wrath of war lies a magnificent object that is shortly mentioned in Book 18. The brief section in Book XVIII, lines 505-660, described the shield that Achilles would carry into battle. However, it also tells us something about the nature of Achilles and his heroic image full of rage and anger. In order to understand the significance of the Shield of Achilles, one must closely look within the different layers of the shield itself....   [tags: Shield of Achilles]

Strong Essays
966 words (2.8 pages)

Analysis Of Homer 's ' The Iliad ' Essay examples

- Peace and War Throughout generations, humanity has evaluated and defined war and peace among our civilizations. The difference between these two subjects has been greatly reflected throughout many literatures and has been approached at many different outlooks. These separate perspectives are expressed through the writings of Homer and Lao Tzu. In The Iliad, Homer evaluates war and peace through his use of symbolism and emphasize on one’s own decision. Contrarily, In Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu assesses war and peace through ones full understanding of when each is needed and how to approach them....   [tags: Achilles, Iliad, Trojan War, Homer]

Strong Essays
1195 words (3.4 pages)

Essay on Analysis Of Homer 's The Iliad

- In Homer’s The Iliad, there are various scenes where war is depicted through similes that relate it back to nature. Through the use of this literary device Homer shows how cruel the war is in contrast to how peaceful nature is. Many people are slaughtered in this story; this overwhelming amount of death is portrayed alongside the vivid descriptions of the beauty of nature. The culture that this poem was written in was very familiar with aesthetically pleasing scenes in nature, as the Greeks often admired it....   [tags: Iliad, Homer, Achilles, Trojan War]

Strong Essays
928 words (2.7 pages)

Essay on Analysis Of Homer 's ' The Iliad '

- In historical times, war was viewed as glorious, especially during the medieval era, as depicted in countless novels and narratives with which fighters were portrayed as heroic and brave. Contrary to this viewpoint, modern civilization sees war as an orgy of destruction that despite sometimes being necessary demolishes entire cultures and puts families into disarray and ruin. Within the Iliad, Homer incorporates these two conflicting viewpoints into a complex and deep attitude towards war. In the historical epic, Homer reveals the devastation that fighting inflicts on soldiers both physically and emotionally, and he depicts the grief and sorrows of the families of soldiers killed during the...   [tags: Trojan War, Iliad, Homer, Achilles]

Strong Essays
1498 words (4.3 pages)

Essay on The Shield Of Achilles : The Story And It 's Meaning

- The Shield of Achilles: The story and it’s meaning in The ‘Iliad’ The Shield of Achilles shows life in two different perspectives; it shows normal life in peace, as it symbolizes everything past the battleground; as well as it implies that war creates only one unique aspect of life. This shield has a very low impact on the story as a whole, but it also provides a viewpoint on the entire Trojan War. This protective piece of armor reminds us that humans may serve not only as fighters, but also as regular living beings that have to survive....   [tags: Trojan War, Achilles, Iliad, Greek mythology]

Strong Essays
2038 words (5.8 pages)

Similes Are Used By Homer Within The Iliad Essay

- Similes are used by Homer within the Iliad to induce pathos by contrasting the unnatural bestiality of battle with vivid imagery from the natural world. The innocence of nature within the smilies not only allows for a break from the endless grim of war, but also increases the connectability of the epic. Not everyone, even during the historical time period the Iliad was composed in, experienced war. Therefore, the comparison of war to something common, like nature, allows the audience to connect with the work and experience the pathos it induces....   [tags: Homer, Trojan War, Achilles, Iliad]

Strong Essays
830 words (2.4 pages)

Comparing The Iliad And The Aeneid Essay

- In ancient times, shields spoke yields of their owner and their beliefs. Sometimes, they even showed their owner’s eminent fate. In the Iliad and the Aeneid, the shields of heroes—Achilles and Aeneas—are described both similarly and differently. There are many similarities in their shields: both having received the shields from their goddess mothers. Both shields were made by Hephaestus/Vulcan. The shields were also described in depth, making the shields seem comparable. However, they differed in the images on the shields....   [tags: Achilles, Iliad, Trojan War, Troy]

Strong Essays
834 words (2.4 pages)

Achilles' Shield Essay

- As long as there is thought there will always be debate as to the relevance and applications of any figure that has potential symbolism deeper than its appearance. We see it with the Bible, with its accompanying fundamentalism, literalism, interpretationalism, and its downright detractors. Attention given to an object for such a prolonged time is bound to foster battleground for linguists, philosophers, and literary scholars. Additionally, we see it with the Shield of Achilles in Homer's The Iliad....   [tags: The Iliad Essays]

Strong Essays
745 words (2.1 pages)

Achilles Shield Essay

- Achilles’ shield, made by Hephaestus, the god of fire, plays a part in the Iliad. It tells the story of the war between the Greeks and the Trojans. Hephaestus depicts the two cities and the activities going on in them, and Agamemnon’s, the Greek’s king, estate. Homer thought that seeing what it is on the shield could help the reader understand the importance of Achilles' shield and the Iliad. Hephaestus used fine metals and put lots of scenes of things going on not only in that time period but also in respect to the Iliad’s plot....   [tags: Free Essay Writer]

Free Essays
515 words (1.5 pages)