Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Shield of Achilles in Prezi

In Book 18 of the Homeric Iliad, the goddess Thetis asks the artisan-god Hephaestus to create new armor for her son, Achilles. Patroclus, Achilles’ friend, had fallen in battle at the hands of the Trojan Prince Hector, who stripped the fallen hero’s armor as a prize.

As Hephaestus makes the armor, the poem describes in great detail the marvelous shield that Achilles will carry into decisive battle when he goes to face Hector. The shield depicts scenes representing the world of the cosmos, of nature, and of human civilization, in peace and war. It provides context for the upcoming the battle of heroes, and Achilles’ personal battle with grief, rage, and a shattered understanding of right and wrong.

This passage of the Iliad is at 18.474-18.608 [Greek and English].

Sam Hill (Furman Class of 2016), a student in the First Year Seminar “Homer & History” created a visualization of this important and complex passage. He integrated canonical citations to the text of the poem, line-by-line, with an artistic rendition of the shield created by artist Kathleen Vail using the online presentation tool Prezi.

His work is here:

Kathleen Vail has shown extremely generous appreciation for Mr. Hill’s re-use of her art. This is a model of how art, literature, scholarship, and technology can add to understanding.