Den gudomliga döden : Hur död och dödande uppfattas i Homeros Odysséen

Detta är en Kandidat-uppsats från Uppsala universitet/Antikens kultur och samhällsliv

Författare: Tuva Johansson; [2016]

Nyckelord: Homeros; Odysséen; död; gudar; rättvisa; öde;


How people perceive life and death changes over time and space. The question of a peoples’ comprehension about life and all that comes with it is significant in understanding a long gone civilization. The purpose of this essay is to investigate the different ways which people in Homers Odyssey die, and whether these were considered “good” or “bad” according to the values and rules of the society of that time. Furthermore, I will examine if there are more or less acceptable reasons to kill someone. Both overarching aims will be attained by studying the Odyssey and analyzing all that has to do with death, perception of justice, the gods, and fate, to the extent of which this is possible.

The epic poem, being one of few surviving literary works of the 8th century B.C. and possibly the oldest preserved Greek and European literary work, is a rare glimpse into the minds of a 3000-year-old people. The Odyssey will be explored using an empirical approach with my own opinions and values as a framework in order to better understand the concept of death in the ancient Greek world as Homer echoes it. The main source being used in my analysis is undoubtedly the Odyssey itself, since this contains all of the deaths and all of the conceptions of death that I wanted to access. Apart from the Odyssey I have also looked at the Iliad, to be able to illustrate similarities and differences between the two epics.

                      Robert Garlands’ book The greek way of death as well as Death in the greek world by Maria Serena Mirto have given me a solid foundation concerning death overall in the ancient greek world. Garland writes about death as a process and examines the current evidence surrounding it, while Mirto, a bit more personally, analyzes the different stages of death and how people reacted to them. More centered information on the subject I have collected from Jasper Griffins’ Homer on life and death and Eric A. Havelocks’ The greek concept of justice. Griffin explores how life and death is depicted in the Homeric epics, and more closely the significance of death and the power of the gods. Havelock analyzes in his book the works of mainly three ancient writers (Homer, Hesiod and Plato) and the influence these have had over time on the development of justice in the minds of the ancient greek people.

                      I came to the conclusion that there was indeed more or less “good” and “bad” ways to die, just as there was more or less “accepted” reasons to kill a man according to other men and the gods respectively, depending on the situation. People die in many diverse ways in the epic, each of which gives something to the discussion concerning how people perceived life and death in the age of Homer. 

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