Title: "The Shield Of Achilles" Books: "The Iliad" Homer, "The Odyssey" Homer

1097 words - 5 pages

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The Shield of Achilles

The shield of Achilles is a symbol of human life as a whole. Homer uses the shield to portray the actions of humankind during peace and war. Made out of bronze, tin, gold, and silver, the shield is an artistic beauty. However, the beauty not only comes from the precious metals, but also the carvings and emblems sketched into the shield's five folds.

Homer starts out by describing the earth, sea, and the sky, emphasizing the "tireless sun," the "moon waxing into her fullness," and "all the constellations that festoon the heavens." (Iliad 18. 484-485) Next, he describes "two cities of mortal men". ...view middle of the document...

Besieged by a hostile army and fighting for its life, this city represents the darkness of mankind. However, Homer uses positive imagery to describe the soldiers marching out into battle by saying, "Ares led them, and Pallas Athene. These were gold, both, and golden raiment upon them, and they were beautiful and huge in their armor." (Iliad 18. 516-518) Even though the situation is chaotic and violent, the vibrant descriptions of the heroic soldiers give us a little light in the darkness.

After the description of these cities, one good, one bad, Homer goes back to emphasizing the peaceful nature of humankind. He portrays scenes of farmers plowing the earth, laborers harvesting on a king's precinct, young men and women picking grapes in the merry vineyard, and then he moves on to the slaughtered ox, which will be cooked into a feast. Once again, a peaceful and calm scene is interrupted by a small burst of violence, just like in Homer's description of the first city. However, I couldn't help but notice the stark contrast between the peaceful land described here in The Iliad and the peaceful island described in The Odyssey. When Odysseus arrives at the land of the Cyclopes, he notices a small little island just off the coast that is uninhabited. He describes the island as having "no human kind to disturb them … wild goats beyond number breed there … neither again is it held by farmers … never plowed up and never planted, it goes without...

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