The Shield of Achilles. From the Illiad.

Essay by Anonymous UserUniversity, Bachelor'sB, November 1994

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The Shield of Achilles:

The shield of Achilles plays a major part in the Iliad. It portrays the story of the Achaeans and their fight against the Trojans in a microcosm of the larger story. Forged by the god, Hephaestus, who was a crippled smith, it depicts the two cities and the happenings within, as well as Agamemnon's kingly estate. To gain insight into the details and intricacies of the shield, one must look at the shield itself, the cities depicted within the shield, and the King's Estate and other scenes which are also depicted. These items will give even an amateur reader a fair understanding of the importance of Achilles' shield and the Iliad.

Hephaestus, the god of fire, is the smith whom forged Achilles' shield. He begins with twenty hot bellows and fires bronze, tin, gold, and silver in his kiln. He then proceeds to hammer the metals upon his anvil to create a massive shield for Achilles to wield.

The shield itself is made of five layers of metal with a triple ply shield strap edging on the rim. On the shield are scenes showing the heavens and earth and sea, two noble cities, a king's estate, fallow fields, a thriving vineyard, a herd of longhorn cattle, and a dancing circle. Once Hephaestus completes the shield he makes a breastplate and helmet for Achilles. The armor he forges is indestructible and worthy of a god. Through Homer's description of the shield and how it is forged, the reader can begin to understand the importance and value of this device in a literary context.

The two cities depicted on the shield represent a city in Greece and Troy. One of the cities is filled with men dancing and singing and brides marching through...