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Why care about that shield? I will get another, just as good

Updated: May 20, 2022

After his victory [against the Spartans], Aristomenes [king of Messenia] dedicated his shield at the sanctuary of Delphi, where Pausanias claims to have seen it personally.

"Upon it is an eagle with wings outspread so that they touch the rim."

Aristomenes had lost that shield in the battle, and went to considerable effort to retrieve it. This was because the shield of a heavy infantryman was a bulky object, and the first thing that one discarded when running away. Aristomenes wanted to avoid the implication of cowardice.

His contemporaries elsewhere in Greece were less bashful. The contemporary poet Archilochus lost his shield as he fled a lost battle, and he remarked of the fact:

“Some Thracian now has the pleasure of owning the shield, I unwillingly threw into the bushes. It was a perfectly good shield,
but I had to save myself. Let it go. Why care about that shield? I will get another just as good.”

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