Describe how the dead souls were drawn to the blood in Book XI of "The Odyssey."

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linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the end of Book X, Circe agrees to let Odysseus and his men leave but tells them they have one more journey to make before they can go home. They must go to Hades and consult the ghost of the blind prophet Tiresias, who will tell him how to return to Itaca.

In Book XI, Odysseus does as he was told:

I made a drink-offering to all the dead, first with honey and milk, then with wine, and thirdly with water, and I sprinkled white barley meal over the whole, praying earnestly to the poor feckless ghosts, and promising them that when I got back to Ithaca I would sacrifice a barren heifer for them, the best I had, and would load the pyre with good things. I also particularly promised that Teiresias should have a black sheep to himself, the best in all my flocks. When I had prayed sufficiently to the dead, I cut the throats of the two sheep and let the blood run into the trench, whereon the ghosts came trooping up from Erebus- brides, young bachelors, old men worn out with toil, maids who had been crossed in love, and brave men who had been killed in battle, with their armour still smirched with blood; they came from every quarter and flitted round the trench with a strange kind of screaming sound that made me turn pale with fear... but I sat where I was with my sword drawn and would not let the poor feckless ghosts come near the blood till Teiresias should have answered my questions.

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The Odyssey

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