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Homer > Achilles in the Underworld: Iliad, Odyssey, and Aethiopis, by Anthony T. Edwards

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message 1: by Lia (last edited May 10, 2018 03:08PM) (new)

Lia | 522 comments Mod
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the conception of a more fortunate existence after death was widespread before Homer. Belief in a realm of Hades was complemented by an alternative land of the blessed, usually an island located at the edges of the earth, where kings and other favored individuals enjoyed a happy eternity

the Aethiopis grants Achilles a blessed immortality

the Odyssey places him exactly where the Iliad leads us to expect him, in the underworld.



message 2: by Lia (new)

Lia | 522 comments Mod
I have SO many questions.

First of all, if mortality is not absolute, and Achilles had alternatives to Hades, that would seem to completely alter the theme/ meaning of the Iliad. As one of the footnotes acknowledged, Achilles’ mortality is fundamental to the Iliad.


message 3: by Lia (last edited May 10, 2018 03:02PM) (new)

Lia | 522 comments Mod
Some possible explanations for the inconsistency:

the eschatology of the Iliad may be eccentric in comparison to that of the Odyssey and Aethiopis


So, within the same cycle, different heroes have different sets of options available to them, depending on the context of the Troy Cycle as a whole.

within the cycle as a whole it should not be surprising if two poems appear to differ in their presentation and exploitation of eschatological options [...]the crucial issue is simply whether a poem does or does not know of alternatives to Hades. It is clear that the Odyssey, the Aethiopis, the Cypria, and the Telegony do. It remains uncertain whether the Ilias Parva, Iliou Persis, or Nostoi are aware of such alternatives


“Plot holes” like this would not survive modern worldbuilding. It’s difficult to comprehend how this could be unproblematic for the ancients, when they treated these texts seriously as guide to religion and proper conducts.


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