Odysseus Journey To The Underworld Essay

Odysseus Journey To The Underworld Essay-88
We can see contrasts in the living and the dead directly in the text as well, as Homer writes, “Life-giving earth has buried them” and details how Achilles, a great hero of the , would rather “live working as a wage-labourer for hire by some other man, one who had no land and not much in the way of livelihood, than lord it over all the wasted dead” (Homer, 11.380, 624-28).Most of the people that Odysseus encounters and describes have some sort of relationship with the divine, so it may seem that Homer was showing that this afterlife was reserved only for beings of a special status.Instead, they are fluttering shades, whose “sinews no longer hold the flesh and bone together” and whose spirits cannot be grasped or held, but instead slip through one’s embrace, “like a shadow or a dream” (Homer, 11.271-72, 257).

We can see contrasts in the living and the dead directly in the text as well, as Homer writes, “Life-giving earth has buried them” and details how Achilles, a great hero of the , would rather “live working as a wage-labourer for hire by some other man, one who had no land and not much in the way of livelihood, than lord it over all the wasted dead” (Homer, 11.380, 624-28).Most of the people that Odysseus encounters and describes have some sort of relationship with the divine, so it may seem that Homer was showing that this afterlife was reserved only for beings of a special status.Instead, they are fluttering shades, whose “sinews no longer hold the flesh and bone together” and whose spirits cannot be grasped or held, but instead slip through one’s embrace, “like a shadow or a dream” (Homer, 11.271-72, 257).

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This is not totally clear, however, as Odysseus mentions “a thousand tribes of those who’d died,” but departs the underworld in fear immediately following this development (Homer, 11.818).

We also see examples of continuity rather than contrast in the case of some of the heroes (Said, 177).

The underworld, in this case, is more a general area where Hades rules and the souls of the dead reside.

In applying theoretical approaches to Homer’s conception of the underworld, we can come to at least a few conclusions about what his depiction meant.

In life, one is full of strength and knowledge, but in death, this is essentially nonexistent (until some extent of knowledge is regained by the drinking of blood).

Whether the dead may know what is occurring seems to suggest that they have no influence over the living, though they can threaten to call upon the gods to act on their behalf.It shows how the dead live on in the afterlife and gives us some imagery of their final resting place as well.There is no specific divide that separates those being punished from those simply living in the underworld as Homer describes it in the nekyia, but this appears in other parts of the Odyssey (Book IV, for example) or in later texts of Greek mythology, as does more imagery of rivers, fields, etc.Ajax refuses to speak to Odysseus because of their previous squabbles in life. holding a golden sceptre, and passing judgments on the dead, who stood and sat around the king, seeking justice, throughout the spacious gates of Hades’ home” (Homer, 11.733-37).In this way, Minos continues to be in a position of power and judgment, as he was a king in life.Homer’s Book XI is significant because it gives us the earliest written depiction of the Greek underworld.While not strictly intended to give direction as to how to get to the underworld, it implicitly does so by showing how others have ended up there and by mentioning how the spirit is released.This shows how the dead may move around in the afterlife and have a place to call their home.We can presume that these shades of the dead resemble who they were during life, since Odysseus is able to recognize and describe them.For one, there is the myth-and-ritual theory, which says that in creating myths (or writing them down, as Homer does), “ancients sought to explain religious rites [or rituals] that they did not understand” (Graf, 40). Animal sacrifices in Greece have been traced back to the Bronze Ages, and possibly even earlier.Their meaning may not have been clear then or after, so this theory suggests that Homer may have been giving ritual sacrifices significance by showing that they were the process by which the living could interact with or more generally pay tribute to the dead.

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