The Shield of Achilles

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 275
  • Published : March 8, 2006
Open Document
Text Preview
While Auden's The Shield of Achilles gives a glimpse of the mythology concerning the great Trojan War, the lines themselves are immersed in their own battle of legos vs. pathos as the two main characters' dissenting views and one's triumph over the other illustrate an everlasting plight of humanity. Thetis, the mother of Achilles, is hope personified, as she acts in desperation to save her son from death, in spite of the knowledge of his inevitable fate. As she watches Hephaestus forge the indestructible shield for her son, she relentlessly searches for signs in the shield's pictorial that her hope may be justified. Hephaestus, on the other hand, as Thetis' adversary, epitomizes pragmatism, the antagonist of hope, while sourcing from despair and wretchedness. In classical mythology, he proved wretched from birth, coming into life as a cripple and depicted here as a "thin-lipped armorer" who "hobbled", while "Thetis of the shining breasts" was one of the Nereids, sea-nymphs renowned for beauty. As Thetis seeks "vines and olive trees, marble well-governed cities and ships upon untamed seas", symbols of peace and prosperity, Hephaestus gives her "an artificial wilderness and a sky like lead….congregated [by] an unintelligible multitude, a million eyes, a million boots in line, without expression, waiting for a sign" undoubtedly the sign of a raging war. As Thetis seeks "ritual pieties….libation and sacrifice", an appeal to the deities for aid and guidance, Hephaestus provides "an arbitrary spot where bored officials lounged (one cracked a joke)" seemingly in mockery of Thetis' hope and "three pales figures [whom] were led forth and bound to three posts driven upright in the ground", iconically the most well-known biblical illusion of the assassination attempts on Christianity. As Thetis seeks "athletes at their games, men and women in a dance", a return to simple pleasures, Hephaestus portrays "girls that are raped…two boys [who] knifed a third", the most...
tracking img