Odysseus descends into the realm of Hades

When I revealed to my companions where our path now lies, they were horrified, but, obeying my order, they boarded the ship and we sailed to the far north. The sorceress Kirka sent us a fair wind. He quickly drove our ship. Finally, we reached the waters of the gray-haired Ocean and landed on the shore of the sad country of the Cimmerians, where the god Helios never shines for people. This country is forever covered with a cold fog, forever enveloping it in a thick veil of night twilight. There we dragged our ship ashore, took the sheep and black ram given to us by Kirka for sacrifice to the underground gods, and went to the place where Cocytus and Piriflegeton flow into Acheron near a high cliff.

Odysseus summons the souls of the dead
Odysseus summons the souls of the dead.
(Design on a vase.)

Arriving there, I dug a deep hole with my sword, made three libations over it with honey, wine and water, pouring everything with barley flour, and stabbed the victims over the hole. The blood of the victims poured into the pit. The souls of the dead flocked to the pit in a great crowd and raised a dispute about who should drink the sacrificial blood first. Here were the souls of brides, youths, elders and husbands slain in battles. Horror seized me and my companions. We burned the sacrifices and appealed to the gloomy god Aida and his wife goddess Persefona. I drew my sword and sat down next to the pit to keep the souls of the dead out of it. The soul of the young Elpenor approached first. Before us, his soul rushed to the gates of the kingdom of the souls of the dead. Elpenor begged me to give his body to burial, so that his soul could find peace in the kingdom of Hades. I promised to fulfill his request. The soul of my mother Antikleya also flew to the pit. She was alive when I left Ithaca. No matter how painful it was for me, but I didn’t let her into the pit either, since the soothsayer Teiresias was supposed to drink blood first. Finally, the soul of Tiresias appeared. After drinking blood, an incorporeal soul turned to me and told me that the god Poseidon, the shaker of the earth, is angry with me because I blinded his son, the Cyclops Polyphemus . But even against the will of Poseidon, I will reach my homeland, as Tiresias predicted to me, unless my companions touch the bulls Helios on the island of Trinacria. But if my companions kill the bulls, then death will befall them all, I alone will be saved and after great disasters I will return home. There I will take revenge on the suitors, but after taking the oar, I will have to wander until I meet a people who do not know navigation, who have never seen ships; I recognize this people by the fact that the one I meet asks me why I carry a shovel on my shoulder. In this country, I must sacrifice to Poseidon and only then return home. At home, I must make a rich sacrifice to all the gods; only then will I live peacefully in Ithaca until my death. This is what the prophetic Tiresias predicted to me and left. I saw a lot of showers. The soul of my mother told me, having drunk blood, what was done in her native Ithaca before her death, and reassured me, saying that my father was also alive Laertes, and < a href="/en/glossary/penelopa">Penelope, and the young Telemachus. I wanted to embrace my dearly beloved mother, three times I stretched out my arms to her, but three times her light shadow eluded me. I saw the shadows of many heroes in the kingdom of Hades, but I can’t list them all, the whole night would not be enough for this. It's too late now, it's time to interrupt my story, it's time for everyone to rest.

So said Odysseus. But all those gathered began to ask Odysseus to continue the story, his queen Areta and the king Alkinoy. Everyone was ready to listen to Odysseus until dawn. Odysseus began to continue his story.

- I saw the soul of the king Agamemnon in the kingdom of Hades. He bitterly complained about his wife Clytemnestra and Aegisthus, who killed King Mycenae on the day of his return . The soul of Agamemnon advised me not to trust my wife Penelope when I returned to Ithaca. I also saw the souls of Achilles, Patrokl, Antilochus and Telamonides Ajax. I told Achilles about the great deeds of his son Neoptolem, and he rejoiced, although he had bitterly complained earlier about the joyless life in the kingdom ofthe dead and wished to be the last laborer on earth rather than to be king in the kingdom of the souls of the dead. I wanted to reconcile with the great Ajax - I seriously offended him when we argued for the armor of Achilles - but Ajax silently left without saying a word to me. I also saw the judge of the dead, King Minos. I saw the torment of Tantalus and Sisyphus. Finally, the soul of the greatest of heroes, Hercules, approached me, he himself is on Olympus, in the host of immortal gods. I waited for the souls of other great heroes of bygone times to approach, but the souls raised such a terrible cry that I fled to the ship in fear. I was afraid that the goddess Persephone would send a terrible gorgon Medusa.

We quickly launched the ship into the water of the gray-haired Ocean and left the country of the Cimmerians. Soon we safely reached the island of Eei and, having landed on the shore, we forgot ourselves in a peaceful sleep.