Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Homer's world

Book 18 of Homer's Iliad contains a remarkable description of the surface of Achilles' shield. Made by the god Hephaestus, the lame blacksmith, the shield offers an enigmatic picture of life in its totality: sun and moon, war and peace, city and country, the seasonal endeavors of agriculture and pastoralism and vintage, all encircled by the River Ocean. I like to think of the shield as the god's silent, somber celebration of all the possibilities of life beyond the Iliad: the city at war (i.e., life as it's lived in the Iliad) represents only a small part of the whole.

Above, a remarkable visualization not of Achilles' shield but of the geography of the Homeric world, creator unknown. (Click for a larger view.) If this picture were a real snowglobe, I'd buy it in a second. More via the links:

Homer’s Snowdome (Strange Maps)
Homer's view of the earth (henry-davis.com)
An explanation (henry-davis.com)
(Thanks, TRH!)

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