Create a new account

It's simple, and free.

"The Shield of Achilles"

"The Shield of Achilles" reveals much about Greek life in the eighth century B.C. and about the degree of social development reached to that time. The story of the shield suggests a society not only where metal is worked but also where there are an urban culture and a rural culture interconnected in the economy, where art is valued as a means of expression, and which is protected by a military structure and a warrior culture.

First, this is a society that has achieved a higher level of organization. Certainly, it is a society that has reached the Bronze Age. Civilization developed following a pattern based on the ability of the human population to learn to use different tools at different stages, different materials from which those tools were made, and different modes of food production. With the development of more sedentary habitats, urban centers eventually developed and produced civilizations with certain similar characteristics, though these developments may have taken place at different rates in different areas. Civilization began with agriculture, developed metalworking in the Bronze Age, and progressed to more advanced metalworking in the Iron Age. This society is still in the Bronze Age, and metalworkers such as Hephaestus know how to forge metal and shape it to their needs. In the scene depicted, Hephaestus is creating a shield which will be the strongest made. The fact that such a shield is required at all shows that this is a war-like society either in need of defense or prepared to invade others. We know we are in the Bronze Age by the ingredients used--copper, tin, silver, and gold.

Hephaestus is a god, but the actions he takes as he creates this shield mirror those of human artisans of the period. He may have more bellows and be producing more goods at one time, but the image offered is that of a busy forge where metal is worked into a variety of goods. The tools he uses are the tools a human artisan...

Page 1 of 5 Next >

More on "The Shield of Achilles"...

APA     MLA     Chicago
"The Shield of Achilles". (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 14:00, March 19, 2019, from