In Book 11 of "The Odyssey", why can’t Odysseus hug his dead mother?

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podunc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Odysseus encounters his mother Anticleia in the Underworld, she explains why they are not able to embrace one another:

" . . . All people are like this when they are dead. The sinews no longer hold the flesh and bones together; these perish in the fierceness of consuming fire as soon as life has left the body, and the soul flits away as though it were a dream."