Myths of the Underworld Journey: Plato, Aristophanes, and the 'Orphic' Gold Tablets

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Cambridge University Press, Sep 20, 2004 - History
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This book was first published in 2004. Plato, Aristophanes and the creators of the 'Orphic' gold tablets employ the traditional tale of a journey to the realm of the dead to redefine, within the mythic narrative, the boundaries of their societies. Rather than being the relics of a faded ritual tradition or the products of Orphic influence, these myths can only reveal their meanings through a close analysis of the specific ways in which each author makes use of the tradition. For these authors, myth is an agonistic discourse, neither a kind of sacred dogma nor a mere literary diversion, but rather a flexible tool that serves the wide variety of uses to which it is put. The traditional tale of the journey to the Underworld in Greek mythology is neither simple nor single, but each telling reveals a perspective on the cosmos, a reflection of the order of this world through the image of the other.
 

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Contents

Introduction The Start of the Journey
1
Definition of Myth
4
The Tale of the Journey to the Underworld
13
Distinct and Different Ways
20
The Route of the Texts
25
The Ends of the Road
27
Roadmaps of Déviance The Orphic Gold Tablets
29
Placing the Gold Tablets
30
A Carnivalesque Reflection
120
Dionysoss Comic Katabasis
121
Entering the Realm of Hades
125
Dionysos Rows Charons Skiff
126
Rendezvous at Withering Heights
135
Finding the Path in the Underworld
136
Join the Festivals of the Mystai
138
Guidance to the House of Hades
146

ObstacleSolutionResult
34
Orphic Controversies
37
Replacing Orphism
40
Finding the Path in the Underworld
46
Finding the Way to the Right Spring
49
The Second Spring from the Lake of Mnemosyne
50
Memory
52
Conclusion
55
Audience with Persephone in the A and P Tablets
56
The Thirsty Soul and the Guardians of the Spring in the B Tablets
61
Conclusion
63
Statement of Identity
64
Gender Issues
65
Ritual Purity
69
The Payment of the Penalty
70
Struck by Lightning
73
Divine Lineage
75
Statements of Identity as Solution
80
Eschatological Hopes
82
The Symposium of the Blest
84
Rebirth
88
Apotheosis
91
Conclusion
99
Conclusions
102
The Ritual Approach
104
Conclusion
108
Gold Tablet Sigla
110
Descent to the Depths of Comedy The Frogs of Aristophanes
111
The Abuse of a Pattern
113
Aristophanes and the Mysteries
117
Confrontation with the Powers of the Underworld
147
Declaration of Identity Herakles Slave or Dionysos?
149
Conclusion
156
The Upward Path of Philosophy The Myth in Platos Phaedo
159
Mythos and Logos in Platos Dialogues
161
Entering the Real of Hades
171
Departure from the Mortal World
172
Philosophy Replaces Funeral Ritual
180
Ghosts in the Graveyard
184
Obstacle Wandering Astray in Hades
188
Following the Guide on the Simple Path
190
Soul Goes to Its Appointed Place without Wanderings
191
Confrontation with the Powers of the Underworld
195
The Judgement of the Soul
196
Heroic Deeds Virtue Relations with the Gods and Philosophy
198
The Places of Punishment and Reward
207
Conclusion
219
The End of the Road
221
Retracing the Paths
222
Orphism as Origin or Orientations?
227
Mythic Reflections of the World
228
The Power of Myth
231
The Agon for Authority
232
Audience and Influence
234
Manipulations of Myth
236
Bibliography
241
Index Locorum
263
Index
273
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