Iliad Questions and Answers
by Homer

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In the Iliad, what does the Shield of Achilles represent? How does the shield place the events of the Iliad into perspective?

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Achilles's shield depicts all the modes of life. Love, death, war, peace, farming and festivals, sieges and battles—everything is represented on the shield, which Achilles both uses to protect himself and continually carries. Equally, we could argue that the shield therefore represents the protection offered to Achilles by the world, or that Achilles must defend the world and all its possibilities.

Perhaps the saddest thing about Achilles is that he embodies the possibilities of peace and war, life and death, until he takes the battle field. Then he makes the fatal choice and loses all the possibilities of human life by choosing the route of war.

The shield displays society at war and at peace, so it is a bird's eye view of Troy both before and after the outbreak of war—what it was, what it is now, and what it will be. It also represents the before and after of the individuals involved in the story. Happiness, marriage, harvest, joy, etc., have given way to siege, fire, starvation,...

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