The Shield of Achilles


  • Νicholas RICHARDSON University of Oxford



AFTER a brief review of some critical approaches to the Shield of Achilles in Iliad book 18, from Lessing onwards, the text is considered scene by scene, with special attention to the portrayal of movement & activity, in contrast to calm & stillness, and also to the references to sounds. The aim is to illustrate the subtle & gentle way whereby the poet leads us on gradually from the physical work itself, through the slow-moving images of the cosmos, to increasingly complex scenes of human life, and even to a miniature heroic narrative (the City at War). From these he brings us back, with alternation of stillness & movement, calm & violence in the depiction of the natural world, to the cosmic frame, and finally to the Shield itself. References to sounds pervade the work, but these are in counterpoint with those of silence & stillness, so that the aspects of ‘seeing’ and ‘hearing’ are held in balance.

Author Biography

Νicholas RICHARDSON, University of Oxford

Emeritus Fellow, Merton College, Oxford



How to Cite

RICHARDSON Ν. (2012). The Shield of Achilles. Ariadne, 17, 85–103.