Read the Commentary on Chapter 15, paying particular attention to Bernstein's The Formation of Hell, Death, and Retribution in the Ancient and Early Christian Worlds.
Investigate the images of Odysseus in the Underworld from the Perseus Vase Catalog.
You have read significant portions of Book 11 of Homer's Odyssey, (M/L, pp. 250-255) sometimes called the Nekuia, in which Odysseus travels to the underworld to consult Tiresias. You may wish to read the entire Nekuia, as well as Book 24.1-204: the suitors in the Underworld.
You have read pertinent selections from Vergil's Aeneid, Book 6, (M/L, pp. 262-270) in which the Trojan Aeneas travels to the Underworld to speak with the shade of his dead father Anchises. You may wish to read all of it.
You may wish to compare Plato's description of the soul in the Myth of Er (M/L, pp. 255-262) in the Republic to that given inPhaedrus 245c-257a. What similarites do you see between the two? How do they differ?
For a comic perspective you may wish to read Aristophanes' Frogs, in which the god Dionysus travels to Hades to bring back one of the tragic poets of the past. Pay particular attention to the Frog chorus (316-459) and their song of initiation into the mysteries. What resonances do you see between what they sing of and what you know of ancient mystery cult?
Read Maxwell Anderson's poem "The Fire Is Out in Acheron."
Read Dante's Inferno. Write an essay in which you compare the ancient view of the Underworld with Dante's Christian vision. How is Dante indebted to the ancient sources? How is he unique?
For a comprehensive view of the Underworld motif read Alan Bernstein's The Formation of Hell, Death, and Retribution in the Ancient and Early Christian Worlds.
For a scholarly analysis of the ancient view of the human soul you may wish to read Jan Bremmer's The Early Greek Concept of the Soul.
Compact Discs and Videos
Listen to Mozart's opera, Il Sogno di Scipione (The Dream of Scipio), based on Somnium Scipionis, Cicero's Roman adaptation of Plato's depiction of the Afterlife in his Myth of Er.
As we all know from the movie Amadeus, Antonio Salieri was the great rival of Mozart. In the last scene of his opera, Les Dana´ds, the Danaids are punished in the Underworld.
Schubert has three songs describing the Heaven and Hell of the realm of Hades and our journey there, which should be heard: "Elysium, "Fahrt zum Hades," and "Gruppe aus dem Tartarus."
Read the passage from Seneca's Thyestes describing the torments of Tantalus, and the two selections from Lucian's dialogues between Charon and Menippus, and Hermes and Menippus.
What do you mean when you throw a sop to Cerberus? Explain Elysian Fields; words derived from the Furies; and from lethe. Understand the meaning of Stygian, Tartarean, tantalize, and Sisyphean. What do we mean when we refer to someone as a Rhadamanthus?