Achilles had given his armour to his friend Patroclus, who died in the battle and the armour was taken by the Trojans. Achilles' mother, the goddess Thetis, asked Hephaestus to forge a new armour to provide her son. The shield was described in detail by Homer in his epic Iliad, and it was said to depict a number of things in concentric circles. From the centre of the shield to the outer area, the scenes depicted in each circle were:
- the Earth, the Sky, the Sun, the Moon, and the star formations.
- two cities; one in which a wedding took place; another which was besieged by an army.
- a thrice-ploughed field.
- a king's field during the harvest season.
- a vineyard.
- a herd of cattle.
- a sheep farm.
- people dancing.
- the stream of Oceanus.
Thus, the shield depicted the entire world and life in general.