Gods and Heroes in Greek Mythology Essay Example

The Greeks affiliate themsleves with stories about godlike men, long wars, and how their close relationships to the gods. As the Greeks were very spiritual, they heavily relied on the gods for aid when they are in need. Which is why it’s understandable that the Greeks would also believe in the afterlife and where the dead go. In Homer’s the Odyssey, there are many graphic and descriptive details that assert that the Greek’s believe in life after death. Some beliefs presume the dead often give their good or bad omens when called upon, as well as the dead can no longer be physical and wallow in grief of their loved ones they left behind. Odysseus journey through the Underworld of Hades provides first hand experience of what happens to the dead once there.

Once arriving to Hades, the environment is misty, gloomy, dark and melancholy. Yet that does not discourage Odysseus from summoning the dead to achieve his goal. Odysseus gives a heifer and a black ram’s blood as offerings and from there “...out of Erebus the souls of the dead gathered.” Many of those ghosts were people Odysseus associates himself with when they were alive. Tiresias may not have been one the godlike man was close to, but he believed that Tiresias was a great enough prophet to make such an outrageous journey for. The Greeks were not only spiritual, but very passionate about their omens in which they receive in many ways. Ghosts were no exception as Odysseus was trying to return home. Even after receiving his prophecy from the Theban prophet, the ghosts bombard Odysseus with familiar faces he recognized when they were alive.

Moreover, there were encounters with ghosts whom Odysseus was familiar with that touched his heart. One specific encounter was with his mother, Anticleia, that died while he was out on his journey home. When he tried to comfort her, he didn’t understand why the dead weren’t physical. His mother explains to him that “when we die, the sinews no longer hold flesh and bone together.” The Greeks presumes that the dead are alive on hades, but do not give them the benefit of physical touch like the living has. The importance of physical touch is a significant element to being alive, as people are able to hold each other back. Drop that and people have no influence on each other. Yet, in the underworld, it’s portrayed as sorrowful as the dead are longing to touch someone especially those they love.

Lastly, some encounters with those ghosts show characteristics that all they do is live in an endless void filled with sorrow wondering how the living are doing. The one of many infamous heroes in the underworld rely on Odysseus information to hear about their young and their homelands for instance when Achilles asks about Neoptolemus. Such questions asked were “Did he come to the war and take his place as one of the best?” (pg 309) and about the how is some is doing generally. The hero Agamemnon even advises Odysseus to weary of women when where his son, Orestes, is as he “has not yet perished from the Earth” (pg 307) Curiosity gets the better of the dead, but all they can do is dwell on their past as they cannot see the past their lives. It is dreadful for to those who passed, as they didn’t intend to leave anyone behind. The Greeks believe time has stopped for the ghosts as they cannot know or see anything after they die unless called upon, which is the hassle.

Furthermore, the highly spiritual Greeks paint the afterlife as a sad place even if they presume the people closest to them live there. The feelings of the living are clearly gone in the underworld as the dead can no longer touch and only mourn for human connection. The Greeks portrayal of the underworld is what the living could visualize today the imagination and spiritual power has disappeared over the long time. These beliefs are what frame a lot of what presume today and will continue for many years as the messages within Greek literature are iconic.


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