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Image and MythA History of Pictorial Narration in Greek Art$
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Luca Giuliani

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226297651

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226025902.001.0001

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Images of the World

Images of the World

The Eighth Century

(p.19) Chapter 2 Images of the World
Image and Myth

Luca Giuliani

, Joseph O’Donnell
University of Chicago Press

This chapter uses the shield of Achilles, a quintessential example of a picture that aspires to depict the whole world, as a backdrop in defining description and narration. This shield is described in the eighteenth book of the Iliad, when the divine craftsman Hephaistos forges new weapons for Achilles. It is described as such; “The shield consisted of five layers, and he made all sorts of decorations for it, executed with consummate skill.” The arrangement of the individual images on the shield is left open to interpretation, but the poet implicitly seeks to represent nothing less than the entire world with these “decorations.” The descriptive character of this text is associated with an idiosyncratic grammatical form that clearly deviates from the characteristic form of epic narration. The dominant tense is the aorist; however, there are hardly any aorist forms to be found in the shield's description.

Keywords:   description, narration, shield of Achilles, Iliad, Hephaistos, epic narration, aorist

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