The Shield of Heracles

The Shield Of Heracles

The Shield of Heracles

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The Shield of Heracles ( Aspis H─ôrakleous) is an archaic Greek epic poem consisting of 480 hexameter verses. The subject of the poem is the expedition of Heracles and Iolaus against Cycnus, the son of Ares, who challenged Heracles to combat as Heracles was passing near Itonus, told in a turgid and laboured diction; the section has apparently survived because of the pleasure taken in its meticulous description of the imagery and vignettes presented in extravagantly high relief on the shield made for Heracles by Hephaestus. The work was in antiquity uncritically ascribed to Hesiod, but was probably written in the 6th century BCE, in conscious imitation of a Homeric style: "...even so he fell, and his armour adorned with bronze clashed about him."

To serve as an introduction, fifty-six lines have been taken from a continuation of Hesiod's Eoiai or Catalogue of Women book IV, in which each section begins, e oiai, "or, like her who...". The late 3rd-early 2nd century BCE critic Aristophanes of Byzantium noted the borrowing, which was the basis for his conclusion that the Hesiodic poem was not in fact by Hesiod; in modern times two fragments of papyrus from Oxyrhyncus have confirmed what critics have understood all along: they give the preceding lines of the Eoiai continuing into the first lines of the poem itself, demonstrating its place as an interpolation embedded in the Hesiodic poem.R. Janko. "The Shield of Heracles and the Legend of...
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