To what extent do you regard The Shield Of Achilles as characteristic

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To what extent do you regard The Shield Of Achilles as characteristic of Auden’s work as whole?

At first glance Auden’s poem the ‘Shield of Achilles’ appears to be focused on the classical world. The poem’s classical nature is first indicated by the title- Achilles was of course a famous Greek hero, and throughout the poem there are further classical references, many of which Auden has taken from Book XVIII of Homer’s Iliad- ‘Marble well-governed cities’ (l.3), ‘…athletes at their games’ (l.46),
‘Hephaestos, hobbled away’ (l.61). However, the poem also combines these classical details with the modern world- ‘Proved by statistics’
(l.17), ‘Barbed wire enclosed an arbitrary spot’ (l.31). Although there is this unusual
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Auden implies in ‘ The Shield Of Achilles’ that although the context of war may change through history, the content doesn’t; war is frequently irrational: Where logic brought them, somewhere else, to grief.

(‘The Shield of Achilles’, l.22)

Auden’s use of occasional modern day diction (‘statistics’, l.17) allows us to realise that he is also referring to modern day situations. Thus Auden is also implying that humans don’t ever learn form their mistakes; we continue to go to war. Auden also refers to this cyclical nature in ‘September 1, 1939’

Exiled Thucydides knew…

The habit-forming pain,

Mismanagement and grief:

We must suffer them all again

(‘September 1, 1939’, ll.23-33)

Here Auden is talking of the Athenian philosopher and historian
Thucydides who is again underlining that human history will keep repeating because humans do not seem to learn from it:

For the present stalk abroad

Like the past and its wronged again

Whimper and are ignored…

(‘A Walk After Dark’, ll.31-33)

those who ‘whimper’ continue to be ‘ignored’ by those in power and so mistakes continue to be made. Similarly in ‘The Shield Of Achilles’, the ‘strong iron-hearted man-slaying Achilles’ (ll.65-6) is seen as a great hero in classical times because of his warrior status. However, in today’s world the general perception of Achilles would be exceedingly different as violent, warrior-like attitudes

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