At a glance:
W. H. Auden’s “The Shield of Achilles” is a nine-stanza poem that uses an episode from Homer’s ancient Greek epic Iliad (c. 800 b.c.e.; Eng. trans., 1616) to meditate on the violence and brutality of the modern world. The poem begins with an unnamed woman looking over the shoulder of an unnamed man; the two are named in the last stanza, but those who know the Iliad well will immediately recognize from the poem’s title that the woman is the goddess Thetis, the mother of the Greek hero Achilles. The man over whose...
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- Please explain "The Shield of Achilles" by W. H. Auden.
- What does the Shield of Achilles' central allusion reveal about the relation of modern poet to literary tradition?
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- Assess the importance of Auden's use of myth in The Shield of Achilles.
- In relation to "The Shield of Achilles," what is a specific heroic deed for which Achilles is known?