The Iliad

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The Shield of Achilles Symbol Analysis

The Shield of Achilles Symbol Icon
The shield of Achilles is forged by Hephaestus in Book 18. The shield is supernaturally strong, but it also contains a supernatural level of detail. Using many metals, Hephaestus creates a picture of the entire world, starting from the cosmos and working down to the everyday details of human experience. The shield is a symbol of the inextricable link between warfare and all other parts of life. Because the rest of the world is contained in the shield, warfare can be thought of as the key to every other part of life.
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The Shield of Achilles Symbol Timeline in The Iliad

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Shield of Achilles appears in The Iliad. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 18
The Gods Theme Icon
Wartime Versus Peacetime Theme Icon
Hephaestus sets to work. He forges the famous shield of Achilles that contains on it a picture of the entire world. It includes the sea, the... (full context)
Book 22
Honor and Glory Theme Icon
The Gods Theme Icon
Fate and Free Will Theme Icon
Mortality Theme Icon
...at Hector and misses, but Athena passes the weapon back to Achilles. Hector’s spear hits Achilles’ shield but cannot pierce it. Hector turns to Deiphobus but cannot find him. He soon realizes... (full context)