The Journey to the Underworld in Greek Literature
Online Course in Ancient Greek, March 13th-May 1st 2021
The Greeks perceived the afterlife as a place of darkness where pale spirits of the dead wandered about in a state of shock. Few mortals had the fortune (or misfortune) of seeing Hades before death; one spoke with the shades of the dead; another brought back the soul of a friend to the world above; there was even one who undertook the journey to explore the afterlife and describe it to the living. Catabasis–descent to the underworld–is a theme that has animated the imagination of the Greeks from the time of Homer up through the advent of Christianity and furnished these authors with an opportunity to explore to a variety of questions whether philosophical, psychological, or about the nature of ritual. On occasion the portrayal of Tartarus, where all falsehoods are exposed and appearances unmasked, lends itself to remarkable satire of the world above.
This course is a journey through a thousand years of Greek literature: we will examine the rape of Persephone, see Odysseus summon the shade of Tiresias, enter the inner sancta of Eleusis, descend into the cavern of Trophonius at Lebadaea, follow the soul of Er in his otherworldly wanderings, and hear the stories of Menippus as well as Zalmoxis the Thracian.The conclusion of the course will feature one of the most discussed and interesting stories in Christian theology–the descent of Jesus to Hell and the freeing of the patriarchs imprisoned in Šeol.
Each session will be conducted entirely in Ancient Greek and will expose participants to reading texts both in prose and poetry with passages excerpted from several sources: the Odyssey, Homeric Hymns, Herodotus, Aristophanes, Plato, Diodorus Siculus, Lucian, and the Church Fathers.The various exercises incorporated into the sessions will foster a command of Attic Greek as well as the other dialects of Greek in which the selected passages are written.
|Saturday, March 13th 2021, 17:00-18:15 CET||The Afterlife of the Greeks; nekyia.|
|Saturday, March 20th 2021, 17:00-18:15 CET||Persephone in Tartarus.|
|Saturday, March 27th 2021, 17:00-18:15 CET||Cavern of Trophonius|
|Saturday, April 3rd 2021, 17:00-18:15 CET||Er and Reincarnation (pt. 1)|
|Saturday, April 10th 2021, 17:00-18:15 CET||Er and Reincarnation (pt. 2)|
|Saturday, April 17th 2021, 17:00-18:15 CET||Subterranean Chamber of Zalmoxis.|
|Saturday, April 24th 2021, 17:00-18:15 CET||Menippus, Heracles, and the dead according to Lucian.|
|Saturday, May 1st 2021, 17:00-18:15 CET||
The descensus Christi