Classical Mythology: What the Hell? Adventures in the Underworld

What the Hell? Adventures in the Underworld

Of all the dangerous adventures undertaken by heroes in classical myths, none held as much peril as a journey to the Underworld, the realm of the dead. Hades did not welcome visitors. For the living, the trek was long and hard even for those who avoided the main entrance. What's worse, a trip to the Underworld was almost always one-way; very few who entered the realm of Hades ever returned.

Despite the forbidding nature of the Underworld, quite a few mythic characters had adventures there. Surviving the dangers of the Underworld—experiencing the realm of the dead as well as the realm of the living—certified a hero as genuine.

Those who dared undertake this journey included goddesses, great heroes, tricksters, lovers, and fools. These adventurers were linked only in their general response to the Underworld: It's not even a nice place to visit, and I sure wouldn't want to live there.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Classical Mythology © 2004 by Kevin Osborn and Dana L. Burgess, Ph.D.. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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