Books from Beyond

OK, I know that I vowed not to do this page. But then I had a change of heart. You see, the thing is, no matter how much (or little) I like writing things that I feel about the Underworld, I feel the books connected to it (particularly the older ones), tell us more about ancient and medieval beliefs about the Hellenic Underworld than do just about anything else.  Sure, we can look at hymns, but how much does that say? They tended to be used by cults (i.e., the Pythagoreans, the Orphics, and the Elusions), not the general public.  But the general public did read the Iliad, the Odyssey and the Aeneid.

Similarly, I think itís good to have some scholarly discussion of these vital books without, well, getting into the ďlook at this word hereĒ sort of discussion.  And, in my goal to create a page thatís not too scholarly to be read by a normal person, thatís pretty important. Similarly, in my attempt to create a page thatís not in some way biased by new religious views, I think that itís vital to show the Hellenic Underworld as something at least approaching what the Ancient Greeks saw it as hence the desperate need for the Iliad and the Odyssey.

In the first draft of this page, I listed a lot more books. I also quoted from them.  To put it gently, that was a lot of work, and I donít intend to re-read the Aeneid.  That hurt.  Iíll include my page of quotes from the Iliad, since I already have them, but not all have to do with the Greek Underworld. Or rather, you might think that they donít.  In a poem essentially about life and death, pretty much everything eventually gets back to that. Read it if you want, and decide for yourself.  Incidentally, I found the original list of books, but not the pages for the books themselves.  I'll list them so that you can see books that include the Greek Underworld just in case for some reason you want to read them.

The Iliad, by Homer, c. 800 BC The great foundational epic of the western world.

The Odyssey, by Homer c. 800 BC (but later than the Iliad) Odysseus visits Hades.  Etc.  Etc.

Theogony, by Heisod c. 700 BC Haven't you always wondered how the Gods were born?

Antigone, by Sophocles, 442-441 BC Antigone's buried alive for buring her brother. How can this *not* involve Hades?

Alcetis by Euripides, 438 BC A story about a woman who comes back to life has got to have a few neat lines.  More information about the story of Alcetis can be found on the Underworld Stories page, under Heracles.

Heracles, by Euripides, 424-423 BC He's just returned from the Underworld, and is talking about it!

The Aeneid, by Vergil, 19 BC Aeneas visits the Underworld, in the great Roman epic.

The Inferno, by Dante, c. 1321 Dante visits a new Underworld, based on the classical one.

The Tanglewood Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorn, 1851 The first children's tales about Greek Mythology! These stories are absolutely marvelous.

The Goddesses in Every Woman by Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D., 1984 Archetypes under Documents is based on this.

The Goddess Letters by Carol Orlock, 1987 Not my favorites, but you might like them.

Gods in Every Man by Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D., 1989 Psychology...hmmm.  Oh well. It's the companion to her earlier book and lists Hades.

Persephone Returns by Tanya Wilkinson, 1996 More psychology.

World Without End by Molly Cochran and Warren Murphy, 1996 Oh no! Modern day people in Atlantis guessed it, Greek Gods.

Olympus, short stories edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Bruce D. Arthurs, 1998 These are some really cool short stories dealing with everyone's favorite Greek Underworld Gods!  It's actually one of my favorites. Who'da thought that buying one short story book would be so much fun?

Essays and Other Amusing Tidbits

Quotes -- collected by Julia Nolan  A set of quotes from and about the Iliad, the Odyssey, and Hades. Most deal with fate or death or destiny in some way.
Man and Myth by Julia Nolan An essay comparing Achilles and Socrates as it debates the meaning of life in the Classical World and the afterlife.
Hidden Meanings by Julia Nolan An essay about potentially different meanings in the Aeneid. Not a lot on the Underworld, but it does have some quotes and whatnot.  ; )
Dangerous Women by Julia Nolan An essay about the women in the Odyssey.  Pay special attention to the magical abilities of both Circe and Helen.

If you liked this page, you might also like my page on Achilles or my new novel, Virtual Image, a story set in a cyberpunk world to the plot of the Iliad.

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