Homer’s Description of the Shield of Achilles





Homer’s Description of the Shield of Achilles

Religious Practices and Beliefs

In Homer’s description regarding the Shield of Achilles, Homer provides an intricate elucidation of the religious beliefs and practices that comprised the late Dark Age Greece. In Iliad, with respect to the Shield of Achilles, Homer indicates the Greek gods that received worship during the periods. For instance, Homer provides a lucid illustration of the Greek god, Hephaestus. The manner in which Homer describes the act of manufacturing Achilles’ armor before his involvement in the Trojan War provides a clear depiction regarding the manner in which the Greeks observed their gods at that time. As such, the illustration provided by Homer regarding the god Hephaestus shows how the god received adoration and worship among the Greeks basically due to his power in enabling basic living, farming and cultivation. This is evident in the passage when Homer surmises the creation of two cities onto the shield of Achilles, the creation of a vineyard, a field with harvest corn, a herd of domestic cattle, homesteads and sheltered sheepfolds as well as pasture.

Political System

The description by Homer based on the Shield of Achilles illustrates the Greek society during the period. In the passage within Iliad, Homer describes the Greek political system while narrating the manufacturing of Achilles’ armor by Hephaestus. As such, Homer illustrates the political system by providing an instance in which the council of elders seeks to solve a dispute between two individuals engaged in a dispute regarding blood money. Homer depicts the elders as the just structure of the political system based on their role in advocating justice and dispute resolution within the Greek society. Nonetheless, the political system extended to the fields of diplomacy based on the xenia institution inculcated within the Iliad. The xenia institution marked a guest-friendship between persons from different demoi. Homer provides a description by providing a situation between the Greek, Diomedes and the Lycian, Glaucus in which both men met in battle but the hostility dissipates when both learn that their past families had a xenia relationship.

Military System

The description provided by Homer regarding the Shield of Achilles also illustrates the Greek military system during the Dark Ages. Homer provides an illustration of this in the passage by surmising the capture of an enemy city by the army. This is evident where Homer provides a situation in which the army and the villagers/city dwellers, inclusive of the young and old, engage in a vicious battle that left both sides salvaging their dead men. Connecting to the previous assertion, the military system received praise and adoration in the event that they attacked, captured and pillaged an enemy village. Accordingly, Homer provides in the Iliad that parents hoped for their sons to join the military and even kill in order to satisfy their hearts as their guardians. Furthermore, exuding expertise in murder and pillaging exhibited honor, glory and wealth to the triumphant troop.

Social System

Homer’s description of the Greek social system in the Shield of Achilles indeed depicts the exuberant nature of their social system. The Greek social system comprised a male-dominated society in which men dictated the women’s rules as well ass performed the tasks of breadwinning for their families. Furthermore, the Dark Age characterized the Greek social system in terms of communities that depended mainly on farming, especially herding and cultivation. This is evident in the passage where Homer provides that the illustration of numerous men ploughing a fair fallow and relatively ploughed field. Furthermore, the women received minor duties within the society such as making porridge as provided by Homer in the passage.


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