Chapter 1 provides an overview of ancient Greek and Roman descent tales, and a synthesis of themes that they share with each other and contemporary adaptations. The focus is on the Odyssean Nekyia; the history of the tradition of Heracles’ descent, reenacted by the god Dionysus in Aristophanes’ comedy Frogs (405 BCE); the catabasis of Aeneas in book 6 of Vergil’s Aeneid; two versions (from Vergil’s Fourth Georgic and Ovid’s Metamorphoses) of Orpheus’ trip to Hades to retrieve Eurydice; and finally the myth of Persephone in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter. Spanning a period of roughly eight centuries, these ancient tales convey a sense of the underworld as a literary space or intertextual archive that can be accessed and adapted by successive generations of storytellers. The chapter ends with a list of elements shared by ancient and contemporary descent narratives.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.