• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

To what extent do you regard 'The Shield Of Achilles' as characteristic of Auden's work as whole?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

To what extent do you regard 'The Shield Of Achilles' as characteristic of Auden's work as whole? At first glance Auden's poem the 'Shield of Achilles' appears to be focused on the classical world. The poem's classical nature is first indicated by the title- Achilles was of course a famous Greek hero, and throughout the poem there are further classical references, many of which Auden has taken from Book XVIII of Homer's Iliad- 'Marble well-governed cities' (l.3), '...athletes at their games' (l.46), 'Hephaestos, hobbled away' (l.61). However, the poem also combines these classical details with the modern world- 'Proved by statistics' (l.17), 'Barbed wire enclosed an arbitrary spot' (l.31). Although there is this unusual combination of classical and modern, the poem can be seen as timeless: Column by column in a cloud of dust They marched away enduring a belief Whose logic brought them, somewhere else, to grief. ('The Shield of Achilles' ll.21-23) Here the army who are 'enduring a belief' (l.21) that they are doing good can be as easily applicable to the modern day (i.e. ...read more.

Middle

Auden also refers to this cyclical nature in 'September 1, 1939' Exiled Thucydides knew... The habit-forming pain, Mismanagement and grief: We must suffer them all again ('September 1, 1939', ll.23-33) Here Auden is talking of the Athenian philosopher and historian Thucydides who is again underlining that human history will keep repeating because humans do not seem to learn from it: For the present stalk abroad Like the past and its wronged again Whimper and are ignored... ('A Walk After Dark', ll.31-33) those who 'whimper' continue to be 'ignored' by those in power and so mistakes continue to be made. Similarly in 'The Shield Of Achilles', the 'strong iron-hearted man-slaying Achilles' (ll.65-6) is seen as a great hero in classical times because of his warrior status. However, in today's world the general perception of Achilles would be exceedingly different as violent, warrior-like attitudes to problems are increasingly condemned by today's society; the response to a "well-aimed stone" (l.55) shouldn't be to throw a stone back. It is this kind of moral "vacancy"(l.54) that leads warriors to wreak destruction upon society. ...read more.

Conclusion

('Epitaph on a Tyrant', ll.1-6) The poem is referring to a dictator whose ideas of perfection, which cause children to 'die on the streets', are another man's nightmares, thus perfection should not always be strove for. Although like many of Auden's poems 'The Shield Of Achilles' is characteristic in certain features, it is perhaps impossible to outline a characteristic Auden poem. 'The Shield of Achilles' lacks many features that would make it characteristic. For example, poems such as 'Moon Landing' and a 'Walk After Dark' are rife with colloquial ('Mneh'- 'Moon Landing', ll.22) and recherch´┐Ż ('Lacrimae rerum'- 'A Walk After Dark', l.30) language, whereas ' The Shield of Achilles has none, instead the language in the poem obeys the poem's principle of contrast- it alternates between classical and modern language. Therefore it's reasonable to say that there are many re-occurring themes throughout Auden's poems, but not that there are entire poems which are 'characteristic'. 1 It is notable that 'Ist September 1939' appeared on many websites after the September 11th attacks in 2001. Vicki Rounding 2709B ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Classics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Classics essays

  1. To what extent does the architecture of Rome highlight the aims of the emperors?

    has brought joy to many ordinary Romans but also adheres to the traditions of Rome in that the leaders are seeking to please the Plebeians as opposed to the emperor only looking after his own interests. Titus even sought to improve on the displays the newly constructed amphitheatre would bring

  2. Free essay

    TMA 03 - Classical Studies

    All the fights beforehand were acts of mercy in comparison. Now the frivolities were banished and we are offered sheer butchery...The only outcome for the combatants is death...' Seneca obviously does not agree with the spectacle of death, even though combatants in question were criminals and killed other people.

  1. Do You Know "Achilles' Heel"?-- Analyzing the Relationship between Greek Myths and English Language

    Here's one you are probably familiar with it. It's the word promethean which describes a daringly creative or defiantly original act, because of the Titan Prometheus, who defied the wrath of Zeus and stole fire in order to benefit humankind.

  2. Classical Civilisation AS coursework - the Mycenaean age

    New pottery shapes and styles began. They produced three handled jars, kraters (large bowls) and kylikes (goblets with long stems). Backgrounds were being painted red or black as opposed to light, matt tones. Forms appeared more natural, like the Minoan art.

  1. A103_TMA03 Classical Studies

    family The citizens were given the right to attend feasts and free spectacles by popular public figures, important for, the purpose which was to gain approval for any proposals they were to make and divert their attention from more important concerns.

  2. How important is the episode in Phaecia to the whole poem? ...

    A visitor gives his name when he feels ready. When Odysseus does tell Alcinious his name he waits until the time is right, when he knows that he has won their respect. Odysseus, although he is a great warrior and has many victories to gloat about, he never shows any aspects of being hubris, unlike the suitors behaviour.

  1. When Heinrich Schliemann emerged from Turkey in June of 1873 with a sizeable treasure, ...

    new life with his uncle who, in turn, enrolled young Schliemann in school. (http://emuseum.mnsu.edu/information/biography/pqrst/schliemann_heinrich.html). According to Fitton on page 54, Schliemann recalled in one of his diary entries that around the age of eight that Schliemann received a copy of a book called Universal History for Children "containing an illustration

  2. To what extent does the evidence support the view that Roman emperors paid very ...

    Dio writes that when Augustus appointed Agrippa as aedile, he ?repaired all the public buildings and all the streets, cleaned out the sewers, and sailed through them?. However, it is unlikely that Dio could have known for certain this event actually happened when he was writing almost three centuries after it occurred.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work