The Shield of Achilles is referenced in Homer’s Iliad and was used by Achilles when he fought the Trojan prince Hector. The shield is best known for its intricate designs.
During the Trojan War, Troy had gained the upper hand over Greece, and had begun to threaten Greek shipping. Patroclus, a close fiend and mentor of Achilles, convinced the great warrior to let him lead an army of Myrmidons in a battle to turn the tide of the conflict. Achilles agreed, even lending Patroclus his armor for the upcoming battle.
Patroclus drove off a force of Trojans, but defied Achilles’ orders to withdraw and pursued the enemy to the gates of Troy. While Patroclus and his army killed scores of Trojans, the god Apollo removed Patroclus’s wits just when it appeared victory was within his grasp. This allowed Hector to kill him with a spear. The prince then removed Patroclus’s armor and kept it for himself.
Enraged at the loss of his friend and mentor, Achilles prepares to battle the Trojans. In need of protection with his armor gone, Achilles’ mother asks Hephaestus, the Greek God of Blacksmiths and Metalworking, to craft her son a new shield. Hephaestus fashioned a shield with circular layers featuring different designs, such as the Earth, sky, and sun, a king’s estate, a vineyard, a dance floor, and two cities. Some have interpreted the shield as showing a microcosm of life in Ancient Greece.
Shield in hand, Achilles journeys to Troy and finds Hector. The prince runs away from him at first, but then Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom and Warfare, appears before him in the form of his brother Deiphobus and tells him to stand his ground. Hector turns to confront Achilles, and the two fight. In the end, Achilles gains the upper hand and kills Hector.
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