What does Odysseus learn from his conversation with Achilles?

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In book 11, Odysseus and his men sail to Oceanus, where they proceed to make sacrifices in order to meet the shades of death. After Odysseus speaks with the shade of Teiresias, who instructs him to leave Helios's cattle unharmed, he meets the shade of Achilles. Odysseus initially attempts to comfort Achilles by commenting on his revered legacy, but Achilles responds by saying that he would rather be a slave than remain among the dead. Achilles then asks Odysseus about his family and comments on his desire to defend his father against people who disrespect Peleus's home.

Odysseus responds by telling Achilles that his son, Neoptolemus, fought bravely in battle and played a significant role in their victory over Troy. After Achilles listens to Odysseus elaborate on his son's exploits, his shade swiftly moves away, rejoicing and celebrating his son. Through Odysseus's interaction with Achilles, he discovers that the underworld is an awful place where comfort and pleasure do not exist. From...

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on November 22, 2019