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p. 9310. An infernal journeylocked

  • Barbara Graziosi

Abstract

Of all his many adventures, Odysseus’ journey to the Underworld is his most extreme. He manages to reach the place most distant from home, and from life itself, yet return even from there. His nekyia—‘dialogue with the dead’—is arguably his greatest feat, and one that has been replayed again and again in literary history. ‘An infernal journey’ describes other ancient heroes who have visited the Underworld: Heracles, Theseus, and Orpheus, and Enkidu, the friend of the Babylonian epic hero, Gilgamesh. For all the difficulties, there is in this Homeric poem, in its protagonist, and his many returns, not just a will to live, but a determination to take pleasure in the tale.

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