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Story Summary: Return From Troy, Episode 6

Odysseus in the Underworld

On this page we have split the telling of this episode into its two main sections and provided a summary of each.

A prince among the dead (5:33)

If they are ever to get home to the things they miss they must journey north to the land of the dead and find Tiresias. As they travel it grows cold, icy, foggy and misty. They hit a sandbank. Odysseus and two men take a pair of sheep ashore. They struggle painfully through bleak grey places. At the banks of the river Styx they sacrifice the sheep, and so summon the spirits of the dead who want to drink of the blood so that they may remember their lives. Amongst the dead Odysseus sees the great hero Achilles who had fought alongside him through the Trojan war and died in battle. Odysseus begins to tell him of the great victory of the Greeks but Achilles stops him; to Achilles victory is meaningless and life is everything.

The vision of a blind man (4:37)

Odysseus finds Tiresias and gives him blood to drink. From Tiresias he learns what he must do in order to overcome the danger that awaits him. During his voyage he will approach the uninhabited island of the sun god Hyperion. There he will find cattle grazing but he must not harm them. After that he must make another journey: he must travel to the mainland with an oar on his shoulder. This he must carry to a crossroads and there place it in the ground before making sacrifices to the sea. Then he will have made peace. As more ghosts gather around the pool Odysseus suddenly flees in terror; he has seen the face of his own mother.

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