Aaron between the two texts go much deeper

Aaron BreeneProfessor SilvaFinal Essay12/11/17The Parallels of Two Circular Shields In any war body armor is a crucial part of an army’s arsenal. Both The Aeneid by Virgil and The Iliad by Honor illustrated the importance of a leader’s body armor by going into painstaking detail to describe what was on their respective protagonist’s shield. Virgil dedicated 140 lines of The Aeneid to describing Aeneas’s armor. Honer in the Iliad similarly chose to write 138 lines about Achilles new armor. The plot where the armor comes into play is very similar in both texts. The main characters reach a lull in the story and in order to overcome the enemy they need a gift from the gods. The main character’s mother then hand delivers the shield to them. The parallels that can clearly be seen between the two texts go much deeper than just plot. Virgil and Honor both employ many similar stylistic techniques in order to scrupulously describe the armor but primarily the shield. Virgil and Honor use a technique called ekphrasis, meaning to describe something in vivid detail through poetry. The description of the shield is so unique because these two poets are describing a piece of art, the shield, through another form of art, poetry. This double art form causes the reader to not only learn about the physically appearance of the shield but also the deeper meaning behind some of the physical art. Both authors use ekphrasis to describe the shield in such a way that makes it sound as if the art is moving and alive. On line 918 Virgil uses this style when he writes, “all the Arabs and Sabaeans, turned their back and fled before this terror.”(918-920) The engraved characters on the shield are obviously not moving but Virgil uses action adjective to make it seem as if they are. Homer does the same thing in his poetry, “the two lions, breaking open the hide of the great ox, gulped the black blood”(lines 582-583). It is very interesting how Homer uses both the past and present tense in one sentence, “breaking” “gulped”. This stylistic choice lets the reader feel as if the action is playing out in front of them. This allows the authors to tell a story while at the same time describing what is carved into the shields. Both grand and one of a kind the shields are very well thought out, however they definitely have their differences. Achilles’s shield depicts many generic scenes while at the same time depicting a larger array of scenes, from fighting to peaceful countryside farms. The shield is almost thought to be like a map or microcosm of the Greek world having “the earth upon it, and the sky, and the seas water, and the tireless sun, and the moon waxing into her fullness.”(lines 483-484) The events that are depicted are bonal. The most lively depiction that occurs on the shield is a “quarrel” in which “two men were disputing over the blood price for a man who had been killed”(497-498). The reader assumes that these scenes are symbolic because of their genericness. For example one of the scenes is a field that have been plowed three times. This is a very mundane event so it is assumed that it is symbolic in some way. Achilles shield has a lot more symbolism and little to no politics. Most of the scenes and images on the shield are rural and peaceful, for example one scene is simply a “great vineyard” and another i scene is just “sheep flocks”. I believe that Homer is trying to show two things with these images. One is the contract between these peaceful countryside scenes and the Trojan War which is extremely bloody and chaotic.  The other point Honer is trying to make is that the scenes on Achilles shield represent what he is fighting for. If Achilles loses to Hector in the battle and Troy wins the war then all of this Greek farmland will be taken by the Trojans. This is quite dissimilar to Aeneas’s shield. The art engraved on Aeneas’s shield depicted a much smaller amount of subject matter. It starts off with 6 short scenes (which will be talk about later). The majority of the shield is scenes from the Battle of Actium. Aeneas’s shield holds the future and fate of the Rome on it. This is no help to Aeneas because he does not understand it but the magnitude of the events is anything but mundane.   “Upon his shoulder he lifts up the fame and fate of his sons’ sons.” Aeneas is lifting the shield up but the shield is much more than just a piece of armor, it is the fate of his nation and lineage.This is a testament to Aeneas’s character, his willingness to understand that the images on the shield are extremely important and have the faith of his country depicted yet his first and only reaction is to go straight into battle. Aeneas knows that no matter what is on the shield the only thing he can do to help his people is to fight the battle that is in front of him. How both authors detail there protagonist receiving their armor is very similar. Both Achilles and Aeneas barely acknowledge the art that is on the shield but rather are mesmerized by the power in which the shield radiates. This is very interesting because both others just spent at least the last 100 lines describing the shield’s illustrations in painstaking detail. Virgil’s personal characteristics and nationalistic pride becomes clear as he describes the whole shield as just to do with Rome. While Honor depicted, “earth upon it, and the sky, and the sea’s water and the tireless sun” these are much more broad and universal scenes.The way in which both authors chose to describe how the shield was being built is very interesting. Honer goes for a more in the moment feel. He does this by starting every paragraph with the following, “He made…He made…He made…He made…And the renowned smith of the strong arms made… And the renowned smith of the strong arms made…He made” (541-606). The shift from “he made” to “And the renowned smith of the strong arms made” does not seem to have a deeper meaning to it besides to break up the repetitiveness. However writing this scene in a present moment step by step walk through makes for an interesting read. Honer starts off the paragraphs with “he made” and then goes into the scene in which he is making (give example). As spoken about earlier in this analysis the shield is like a miniature globe so the way in which Hephaestus is crafting this shield symbolizes that he is now making the world, as if it is a game of MineCraft and he can simply make events happen. This approach to the text  then ties back to the debate between faith verses free will. Are the gods simply orchestrating the Greek’s history and future or do the humans have any say in their actions? Now looking at the Aeneid Virgil’s paragraphs all start past tense, for example “For there the Lord of Fire had wrought the story of Italy” (810) or “Carved in the upper part was Manlius” (lines). This past tense description makes the reader feel more passive in the construction of the shield, as opposed to in the Iliad, where the reader feels like he is actually watch the shield being built. The style of using past tense works however because it makes more symbolic sense. When Aeneas finally received the shield he does not understands what the scenes are because they are in the future. Having the building of the shield in the past tense symbolizes that these future event are already quite literally “carved” into stone/metal.On the structural side of writing Homer and Virgil choose very similar types of sentence lengths. Generally quite long sentences describing the art on the shield with a few short sentences sprinkled in sparingly. Both authors use many ellipses and commas in order to make their sentences long yet still easy to follow. Not all their writing styles are similar though, Homer took a different approach than Virgil when it came to number of paragraphs in the excerpt describing the shield Virgil wrote 140 lines but only used 3 paragraphs. On the other hand Homer wrote 138 lines and used 12 paragraphs. That means that Homer wrote more lines and used four times the amount of paragraphs. Virgil uses about 1 paragraph for every 2 scenes that are on the shield. Where as Homer does not seem to have a distinct pattern when it comes to paragraph scene breakdown. Both shield have depictions of peace and war on them. Aeneas’s shield has the Battle of Actium and in contrast a peaceful scene of the future of Rome when Caesar will reign. Achilles’s shield depicts a “marketplace, where a quarrel had arisen” and on the same shield scenes of farmers just tending to their fields. This comparison of war versus peace is intriguing because both of these shield description are within a larger war epic poem. I.E. the war between the Trojans and the Greek or war between the Trojans and the Italians.  The differences are in many cases a shadow of the authors. One excerpt from the description of the shield that I found incredibly interesting is on time 878-895. In these lines Virgil describes a scene on the shield where three leaders, Augustus Caesar, Agrippa, and Antonius are all sailing towards each other. Virgil starts off by describing Caesar as being “on his high stern” as if he is just naturally above his crew both in rank and in stature. This is an interesting take on Caesar because although he was corrupt he is said to have been a quite a fair leader. This is an example of Virgil’s bias coming through in his work. Virgil goes on to write “Augustus Caesar is leading the Italians to battle, together with the senate and the people, the household gods and Great Gods”(lines 878-881). The fact that Caesar can lead all of these groups into battle as one group is a testament to is leadership and the trust people had in him. This shows that Caesar was a man of the people who had the backing of the senate at the time of the Battle of Actium. Virgil could have stopped there and the reader would have felt the power in which Caesar held however Virgil took it a step further. Caesar is then described in this quote as leading not only his people and the senate into the battle but also the household gods and the Great Gods who were thought to be the highest source of power in ancient Roman culture. Due to this Virgil’s description in these lines contradicts Greek culture. Virgil is putting Caesars power above the gods while at the same time saying that he is one with his people and has their approval. Virgil’s positive bias towards Caesar is extremely clear in this excerpt. In fact because this was written at the time of Caesar’s reign this would have been propaganda in favor of Caesar. This is very different from Homer’s description of Achilles shield. How both authors detail their protagonist receiving their new armor is very similar. Virgil describes Aeneas reaction when his mother first gives him his new armor in the following way, “Aeneas marvels at this mother’s gift…he is glad for all these images”(line 951-952). Homer takes a very similar approach when he writes, “He (Achilles) was glad, holding in his hand the shining gifts…looking at the intricate armor”(lines 17-19). These two characters just got a new set or armor hand crafted by the gods and the emotion that they feel is “glad”? This seems extremely underwhelming for both what they have received and the context in which they received it in. Without this armor they could not go into battle well protected. Without this armor they would stand no chance against their enemy and then lose the war for their respective countries. Yet there emotional to receiving the armor is simply “glad”. In conclusion Virgil and Honor described their main character’s shields very similarly. They did this using a technique called ekphrastic. Both the protagonists had reached a point in the story where in order for them to save their people they had to go into battle and fight. It was because of this circumstance that the gods hang crafted a shield for the respective warrior. The shields were made mostly of gold and were constructed using multiple layers. On these layers were depictions of both peace and war. The correlations can be seen quite clearly but it is only when the reader digs a little deeper and reads in between the lines do they see how different these two shields are.