What is the significance of the agricultural and peacetime imagery on Achilles’ shield? Why are there scenes of peace on a tool of war?”

Book: Aeschylus, Agamemnon and Eumenides [458 BCE] Trans. Robert Fagles (London: Penguin)
You must bring a printed copy of your response to class, but hold onto it and be prepared to refer to it in discussion.

Each response will consist of:

a half-page (single-spaced) critical summary or précis of the reading, of approximately 300 words. Your précis should demonstrate a critical understanding of the reading and its arguments, and offer a personal assessment of its claims / strategies.
Clearly separated out, at the bottom of the same page, 2 critical questions arising from your reading. Your questions should touch on some specific idea in the reading, seek clarity on some point, or push its argument in a new direction.
Your responses should briefly summarize the main ideas in a text, using your own words in place of the author’s words (you may also include some direct quotes if you like). What is the central idea or ideas the author is trying to get across? What examples from the text support this idea? What conclusions do they reach?

You must also give your own assessment or ‘take’ on the text: what struck you as most interesting – or most problematic? When you were reading it, what came to mind? Would you challenge any of the premises or conclusions here? Think of this as akin to a review (of a movie, book, exhibition, etc.), where you must give enough background to your reader about the content and nature of the work, but also elaborate a critical reflection that is your own.

Questions for discussion: Your 2 questions will bring up ideas that occurred to you while you were reading the text or writing your response, of a kind we can take up in class: what didn’t you understand? What do you want clarification on? What kinds of other questions or ideas might be applied to the author’s argument? 

A good question is reflective and open-ended, and should not have a single answer easily found in the text. For instance, if you are responding to Book 18 of the Iliad,

not: Q. “Who makes Achilles’ shield?” (Answer: Hephaistos)

But rather:

Q1. “What is the significance of the agricultural and peacetime imagery on Achilles’ shield? Why are there scenes of peace on a tool of war?”

Q2. “Achilles knows he is fated to die after he kills Hector. But he allows himself to get drawn back into the fighting anyway, to meet this fate head-on. Why? Does he have a choice?” 

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