The Design of Mediterranean Culture.

Homer, Iliad Book 18: The Great Shield of Achilles

© John Van Sickle:


earth, sea, sun, moon waxing & waning, constellations (Great Bear=Dipper; Orion) [483-89]

[land & sea: agriculture & maritime work, signs of daily, monthly, seasonal time to farm & navigate]

CITY DOMAIN [490-540]
[one at peace, the other at war]
  City at Peace [491-508]
[night celebration promote new life / day litigation over price for a life taken]  
By night: promise of propagation
weddings, feasting, dancing, music, admiration (desire), streets & houses [491-496]

By day: dispute over death
[market, court (elders’ council), murder trial: dispute over ‘price of life’ (ransom) [497-508]

City at War [509-540] Debate: assail & sack or share out property (ransom)

Defense & foray: ambush by water kills herdsmen making music

Fray on the field: Death.

[Work in fields (agriculture) & care of livestock in meadows, hills (pasturage, herding)]
  [Agriculture. 541-572]
[seasonal work in field & vineyard: georgic domain (cf. literary tradition)]  
Plowing fields [541-549]
[Regular, rhythmic work, drinking, feast prepared.]

Harvesting grain [550-560]
Reaping: mowing, binding, children gather; King oversees, offers feast, women cook.

Gathering Grapes: vintage, vendemmia, vendange [561-72]
[Vineyard walled, boys & girls pick, dance steps, harpist sings of desire.]

Pasturage [573-89]
Herding cattle & sheep, bucolic domain (cf. pastoral tradition)  
Cattle driven from pens to graze [573-86]
Dung in pens, bull killed by lions (incursion from wilderness) .

Sheep graze in meadow [587-89]
Shelters & dwellings: inhabited landscape, not wild.

DOMAIN of DANCE[590-605] [ Located between city & country: floor to thresh grain from country for city (King), then dance to thank god(s): chorus & admiring crowd, origin of drama & theater].
Like the dance floor made "once upon a time" by Daidalus in Knossos [Crete, cf. myths of Minos, Minotaur, Pasiphae, Ariadne, Theseus]; boys & girls in elegant dress & rhythmic movements, music, [desire], metaphor {dance movements like potter’s wheel.
OCEAN STREAM [606-607]
    Stream surrounds the whole shield: Greek conception of the world.
[line numbers refer to the original Greek & any line-for-line translation, e.g. that by Richmond Lattimore]