Business from Achilles
Hephaestus forging the shield of Achilles.
bas-relief marble, date unknown, from the Pinacoteca Capitolina,
Palazzo Conservatori, Rome.
People always ask if I was afraid of him.
No. Working the metal has made me heavy
in the chest and arms and back. And if he were invincible
why would he need what I was making for him?
He didn't look so menacing anyway:
In a right state, he was, pacing up and down
while I worked. You’d have thought he was a bride
waiting for the wedding gown.
I hammered and crafted through the night
to make what he ordered, and all the time
he distracted me with talk: “Hephaestus,
you can replace the armour that Hector took
but who can bring back my love Patroclus?”
“Be quiet please,” I answered: “even for me
This inlay is tricky.” When it was finished,
He quibbled over the price. I told him
It would last a lifetime. I was right,
But as it turned out, that wasn’t saying much.
If you have any thoughts on this poem, David Whippman
would be pleased to hear them.