Monday, November 28, 2016

The Armor of Achilles


According to legend, Achilles’ mother Thetis begged the god Hephaestus to provide replacement armor for her son before he was to fight Hector at Troy. In response, the god gave her the finest armor ever made, including a magnificent shield, which was said to be impregnable except for the feet which were not protected by armor back in those days.

The shield in particular was said to have been of immaculate quality and was described by Homer himself as “a round shield depicting the earth, the sea, the sky, the sun and the moon, the constellations, and several images of farming, dancing, and harvesting”. Achilles' armor was the object of a feud between Odysseus and Telamonian Ajax (Ajax the greater). They competed for it by giving speeches to their Trojan prisoners on who was the bravest. The men came to a consensus in favor of Odysseus. Furious, Ajax cursed Odysseus, which earned the ire of Athena.

Athena made Ajax so mad with grief and anguish that he began killing sheep, thinking they were his comrades. When Athena lifted his madness, Ajax was left so ashamed that he committed suicide.

Odysseus eventually gave the armor to Neoptolemus, the son of Achilles. The armor was kept by him until his death when it was lost to antiquity.

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