Mircea Eliade "From Primitives to Zen": THE MEAD OF ASPHODEL, WHERE THE SPIRITS DWELL


(Homer, 'Odyssey,' XXIV, 1-18)

Meanwhile Cyllenian Hermes called forth the spirits of the wooers. He held in his hands his wand, a fair wand of gold, wherewith he lulls to sleep the eyes of whom he will, while others again he wakens even out of slumber; with this he roused and led the spirits, and they followed gibbering. And as in the innermost recess of a wondrous cave bats flit about gibbering, when one has fallen from off the rock from the chain in which they cling to one another, so these went with him gibbering, and Hermes, the Helper, led them down the dank ways. Past the streams of Oceanus they went, past the rock Leucus, past the gates of the sun and the land of dreams, and quickly came to the mead of the asphodel, where the spirits dwell, phantoms of men who have done with toils. Here they found the spirit of Achilles, son of Peleus, and those of Patroclus, of peerless Antilochus, and of Aias, who in comeliness and form was the goodliest of all the Danaans after the peerless son of Peleus.

Translation by A. T. Murray in the Loeb Classical Library, vol. II (New York, 1919), P. 403

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