“The central image of Homer’s great epic story of the wrath of Achilles,” Atchity writes in his Introduction to this brilliant new study of the poem’s structure, “is the invulnerable shield made for the poem’s hero at the Olympian forge of Hephaistos.” Atchity’s subsequent revelation of the imagery as the guiding aesthetic provides a complete interpretation of the Iliad from the viewpoint of image and theme.
The major portion of Atchity’s new interpretation is devoted to a comparison of the characters of Helen and Achilles, around whom center, Atchity shows, “galaxies” of characters and images that can be identified in orderly or disorderly terms, the relationship of which is the theme of the Iliad. In addition, Atchity pays particular attention to the poem’s presentation of the art of words, thus making clear the relationship of memory, cognition, and action in the epic tradition.
About the Author
Kenneth John Atchity is Assistant Professor of English and Literature at Occidental College, Los Angeles, California.