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Peace & War in a world full of contradictions

A word of contradictions

“War and peace” . …. Or ” War for peace” … as many want to claim?
No matter where the truth lies! In a world full of contradictions, in a world where the same evil game is repeated again and again, in the name of the most “noble” purposes, in a world where people lose every day their homelands, it is probably high time to think again about our priorities and where human happiness lies .

The shield of Achilles

Homer’s Iliad, even if it was written in the 8th century BC, is perhaps the oldest poem of the world, which in 130 unique verses tries to give an answer to the world’s oldest dilemma: “war or peace”?  There, in book 18, there is an excellend description of  “the “Shield of Achilles”.

Achilles, the well-known hero, lends his armour to his best friend Hector, in order to duel with Paris, the prince of Homeric Troy. Patroklos is killed on the battlefield, and Paris takes his armour as a loot. The loss of his best friend (often is called soul mate), prompts Achilles to return to battle and to avenge the death of his best friend. That’s why his mother, the goddess Thetis, asks the god Hephaestus to provide replacement armour for her son. Hephaestus, the god of fire, is the blacksmith who forged Achilles’ shield.

The description of this exceptional shield is given by Homer in 130 excellent lyrics, full of symbolism and meaning. The decoration is organized in 9 circles, where  two “noble” cities are depicted;  and also scenes showing the heavens and earth and sea, the constellations, a battlefield, a king’ s estate and the life of peasants, a thriving vineyard, dancing boys and girls, and much more. The two cities of the shield are said to represent Greece and Troy.

Peace or War?

One of them is filled with men dancing and singing and brides marching through the streets.
In the king’s estate, bountiful harvests of ripe grain are reaped. And the king stands in silence among the endless bundles of barley. An ox is being prepared for the harvest feast while women fix the midday meal.
In the vineyard the pickers run along a footpath. Among them a young boy plays his lyre and sings.

The other city is circled by an army. A quarrel breaks out….. Half the army wants to share whatever they have captured until now and the other half wants to plunder the city and capture more. Turmoil, death and blood …. surrounds each city.

Hidden Homeric symbolisms

Contemporary research scholars have decrypted these scenes.
Αccording to their opinion they represent our world with all its contradictions: war and peace, joy and work, normality and crisis …

The description of the shield is a symbol of peaceful life in any “Troy” of this world; and a reminder of what will follow when this Troy “falls”.

Now centuries after Homer and his Iliad, it is our turn to decide which of the two models Homer describes we want for our own world and the world of our children.



                                          © Lato,
Het Griekse Taal– & CultuurCentrum van Amsterdam


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