Shield Of Achilles In The Iliad

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The description of the shield of Achilles is an integral part in The Iliad, and becomes even more so when one notices that both the shield and The Iliad itself are representations of all of human life. Each major scene on the surface of the shield is reflected in the content of The Iliad. A step-by-step look at each image on the shield will be helpful here, followed by a description of the parallel scenes in the text of The Iliad. It can be seen that the essential qualities of humanity are all depicted in these two mediums. The first part of the shield of Achilles described is the center, depicting the earth, the seas, and the cosmos, particularly the constellations. This central part of the shield evokes the gods on Mount Olympus, who…show more content…
At the front of the herd, two lions are attacking a bull. Both bulls and lions can be found throughout The Iliad, as these animals are symbols of strength and prowess in battle. In Book I, Agamemnon is compared to “a bull rising head and shoulders over the herds, / a royal bull rearing over his flocks of driven cattle” (I.569-570). Additionally, Adamas was compared to a bull as he died “hugging the shaft he writhed, / gasping, suddering like some wild bull in the hills” (XIII, 659-660). Sarpedon and Patroclus are compared to a bull and a lion as they fight in Book XVI. Patroclus the lion kills Sarpedon the bull, just as the lion on the shield takes down the bull. Additionally, Automedon is described as “a burly farmhand wielding a whetted ax, / chopping a field-ranging bull behind the horns” (XVII, 593-594). Bulls seem to be a symbol of power, but also may be depicted as ultimately incapable of winning a fight, since the bulls described as losing a battle are similes for only…show more content…
Sheep were a common sacrifice in the text, and were also used as a measure of a man’s wealth, since some kings are described as “rich in sheep.” There are a few references to sheep in the text, including in Book VIII when the Trojans are described as “penned in the walls of Troy like sheep” Additionally, Homer describes the Trojans in Book IV “like flocks of sheep in a wealthy rancher’s steadings, / thousands crowding to have their white milk drained, / bleating nonstop when they hear their crying lambs” (IV, 504-506). When comparing Trojans to sheep, Homer highlights the fact that ultimately the Trojans are weak and will not be able to hold off the Greeks, no matter how strong they can be at times. In the final scene on the fourth circle, young men and women dance at a festival. This is a scene of joy, unmarred by any stife. It is important to note that there are few places in The Iliad of which this can be said: most happy moments in the text also contain elements of sadness. The closest The Iliad comes to a scene of revelry is in the funeral games for Patroclus. The men enjoy competing against each other in games, but the scene is shadowed by remembrance of their dead

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