The startled boy is fixed in a circle of gold. He has a shock of hair like a lion’s mane. He thought he was a lion, king of his world. He thought he was lord of all. But he was wrong. Now there is outrage in his eyes.

The undulant coils of hair encircling his face might actually be waves of water. He looks appalled, horribly breathless, like someone on the point of asphyxiation. He could be a drowner coming up for air, or sinking into unplumbed depths.

The gilded boy also resembles a seraph: blessed head without a body. His cheeks are puffed out, like the cheeks of a seraph. But he has no angel’s trumpet to blow, no place in the heavenly host.

He is a face on a shield.

---Excerpt from "Reflections on The Shield of Achilles" by Andrew Graham-Dixon