Pope's drawing of the shield of Achilles


The poet and satirist Alexander Pope (1688–1744) translated Homer’s epic poem The Iliad into English, completing the work in 1720. This is an extract from the manuscript draft of his translation showing a rough sketch by Pope of the shield of Achilles.

In The Iliad, the warrior Achilles had new armour forged by the god Hephaestus at the request of Achilles’ mother Thetis. The lively description of the shield, engraved with depictions of the earth, the skies and the sun, and with images of cities at war and peace, is one of the best known fragments of Homer’s epic. The passage has inspired many writers since, and in 1952 W H Auden referenced Homer’s work in ‘The Shield of Achilles’, a poignant poem about the horrors of the Second World War.

Full title:
Part of the final lines of Achilles' lament for his friend Patroclus in Book XIX of the Iliad; with Pope's attempt to envisage the shield forged by Hephaestus for Achilles
Manuscript / Draft / Drawing
Homer, Alexander Pope
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Public Domain in most countries other than the UK.

Held by
British Library
Add MS 4808

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