Three Visits to the Underworld

Look back over the following:

1) Enkidu's dream of the house of the dead on page 29.

2) Odysseus' description in Book 11, pages 332-340, 342-347.

3) Aeneas' journey in Book 6. 3) Aeneas' journey in Book 6.

  • People sit in darkness.
  • Dust and Earth are the food of the dead.
  • They are clothed in wings.
  • There is no distinction between kings and paupers.
  • The gods are also there.
  • A book of the dead is kept.
  • Dark, shadowy region
  • The dead require a sacrifice of blood.
  • They can not be touched.
  • They can prophecy the future.
  • Some are punished with various torments.
  • A realm of desolation and night
  • One enters it by the woods.
  • It is full of monstrous mythical creatures.
  • The souls of the dead must cross a ferry.
  • It is divided up by regions for various crimes.
Virgil draws on Homer's images of the underworld in basic ways. Dante (as we will see) draws on Virgil's portrait in more dramatic ways.
Note how each of the above understands the house of the dead to be a dark, shadowy place, that the dead can be recognized, and that all suffer some kind of loss, while some are even punished.





"All manner of thing shall be well/ When the tongues of flame are in-folded/ Into the crowned knot of fire/ And the fire and the rose are one." -- T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding