What happens in the Underworld in The Odyssey?  

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In book 10, Odysseus learns from Circe that he and his men must visit the Underworld to receive important information from Tiresias, the blind prophet. Although Circe leaves careful instructions, Odysseus's men, not surprisingly, are unhappy to have to visit the land of the dead.

There, Odysseus does meet Tiresias, along with many other famous dead people. Tiresias tells him that Poseidon is punishing the Achaeans because of Polyphemus's blinding. More importantly, after foretelling events that will happen, Tiresias warns Odysseus not to touch the flocks of the sun in Thrinacia—unless he wants more trouble, including losing his crew.

Also notable is Odysseus's meeting with his dead mother, Anticleia, who he had not known had died. She tells him it was grief over him that killed her. Odysseus as well sees Tantalus, a man who is punished by being shown grapes and water, only to have them fade or pull away whenever he tries to eat or drink them. Spooked by all the dead clamoring around him, Odysseus finally flees Hades.

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In Homer's epic poem The Odyssey, the protagonist Odysseus and his crew visit the Underworld. Their journey is guided by directions from Circe, the sea witch, who instructs them to make a sacrifice at the entrance to the world of the dead. Upon this sacrifice, ghosts visit the men. Odysseus is visited by three ghosts in particular.

Elpenor, a crew member, asks Odysseus to perform traditional burial rites for him. Odysseus acquiesces, reinforcing his characterization as a good leader and empathetic man. 

Anticleia, Odysseus' mother, next approaches. This is upsetting to Odysseus, who was unaware that his mother had died. At first, he does not let her drink the blood. When he does, she explains that she had died of grief and longing for Odysseus. She also reveals the dire nature of Penelope and Telemachus' situation. 

Odysseus also speaks with Tiresias, who offers further guidance and warnings for their trip home. In particular, he helps Odysseus to negotiate his relationships with the various gods who he has interacted or will interact with. 

 

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