The Odyssey, publication XI:

Odysseus travel to the underworld and also meets the prophet Tiresias, that reveals the can be fried fate that Odysseus and also his crew. Odysseus has actually a chance to speak to various other souls in the underworld, including his mother, a parade of exceptional women, and also Trojan battle heroes such as Agamemnon, Achilles, and Ajax. He also meets Hercules and also watches the cruel and unusual penalty that has befallen Tantalus and also Sisyphus in the afterlife. It is Odysseus’ just non-seafaring adventure.

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In “Hades,” the 6th episode of Ulysses, Bloom and also his peers travel across Dublin, from Sandymount in the southeast come Glasnevin in the north, to attend the funeral of their friend Paddy Dignam. Bloom no close to Dignam, and also it appears he wasn’t specifically close to the other males he shares a carriage drive with, though they are plainly all from the same social circle. The Homeric parallels that “Hades”are overt and abundant, v Glasnevin Cemetery together a clean stand-in for The Odyssey’s mythical underworld. While the company Bloom keeps may not be together illustrious together the gods and heroes Odysseus encounters, this is the very first time we watch Bloom interacting with his peers in a systematic way. And also just as Bloom is a sideways variation of Odysseus, the other attendees at bad Dignam’s funeral room all party versions that various characters from ancient Greece.

Let’s begin with Paddy Dignam, Bloom’s girlfriend whose funeral is at the facility of “Hades.” Dignam’s sudden and tragic death is attributed throughout the book to heart fail or come “apoplexy,” yet it appears those who knew him know the real reason - alcoholism. The theme of booze-soaked tragedy operation throughout the works of Joyce, yet at the very least in this case, it likewise has an old root. Dignam’s parallel in The Odyssey is Elpenor, among Odysseus’ crew who over-imbibed and fell come his death from the roof that Circe’s palace. Elpenor has arrived in the land of the dead ahead of Odysseus and is the an initial ghost Odysseus meets there. Similarly, Dignam, nestled in his coffin, come at Glasnevin Cemetery before Bloom and also the remainder of the funeral cortege. Stuart Gilbert notes in Ulysses: A Study the Victor Bérard thought that Elpenor’s name came from the Semitic root El-penor, an interpretation “the blazing face.” Indeed, notice Bloom’s summary of Dignam:

“Blazing face: redhot. Too lot John Barleycorn. Cure for a red nose. Drink like the adversary till it transforms adelite. A most money he invested colouring it.”

Bloom shares a carriage through Mr. Jack Power, Stephen’s sharp-witted father Simon Dedalus, and Dublin’s own Sisyphus, young name Cunningham. While in the Underworld, Odysseus observes Sisyphus, condemned to role a boulder increase a hill just to have actually it constantly roll earlier down just prior to it get the top. Cunningham is the most empathetic that the group, a gentle silver paper to Simon’s irascibility and also sarcasm. Bloom describes him thus:

“Martin Cunningham’s big eyes. Looking far now. Sympathetic human man that is. Intelligent. Like Shakespeare’s face. Constantly a good word come say.”

For every his decency, Cunningham is married to an alcohol addict wife who pawns their furniture every Saturday, requiring her husband to consistently re-furnish your home. It speaks considerably to Cunningham’s character the he reflects such warmth come his peers, particularly with regards to Bloom’s father’s suicide. Cunningham has actually every ideal to be embittered like Simon, yet he maintains an external grace. It’s particularly insightful the Joyce portrayed the alcoholic’s husband together Sisyphus, showing the futility that his make the efforts to alleviate the results of she drinking and spending fairly than trying to strike directly at the underlying problem.


Just together one need to cross 4 rivers (Styx, Acheron, Cocytus, and Phlegethon) to go into the Greek underworld, Dignam’s funeral procession need to cross 4 waterways in between Sandymount and Glasnevin - the rivers Liffey and Dodder, the grand Canal, and the royal Canal. Souls to be transported throughout the water in ancient Greece by the phantasmal ferryman Charon. In Dublin, over there are numerous such psychopomps guiding the males on your journey. Bloom and Co. Point out Reuben J. Dodd, that paid a boatman a measly florin because that the trouble of fishing his child out the the Liffey with a pole. The florin is reminiscent of the obol coin put over the eyes of the dead in ancient Greece to salary Charon’s toll right into the underworld. As the carriage crosses the imperial Canal, Bloom spots “a male stood top top his dropping barge, between clamps the turf.” one more Charon. The dead room welcomed right into Glasnevin Cemetery by assistant to the undertaker H. J. O’Neill, Corny Kelleher, a terrestrial Charon figure. When he no command a waterway, Corny assists the dead across the threshold that their final resting place.

Cerberus the three-headed dog posed an obstacle to old Greek heroes trying come gain accessibility to the realm of the dead. Despite Cerberus is hostile towards the living, the is friendly to the dead, as lengthy as lock don’t try to leave, the is. When Glasnevin Cemetery lacks multi-headed canines, the does have something far an ext fearsome - a jowly priest with a name choose a coffin. Father Coffey, that barks the funeral mass at Bloom and also the various other mourners, is the earthly middleman between the dead and also God’s kingdom. The simnel cakes because that sale exterior the cemetery (“Simnel cakes those are, grounding together: cakes because that the dead. Dogbiscuits.”) room there to placate the Cerberus of Glasnevin, that looks prefer he’s around to “burst sideways favor a sheep in clover Dedalus says he will.” Stephen isn’t the only Dedalus with a facility for poetry.

The old Greek underworld is rule by the god Hades and his wife, the fertility goddess Persephone. The irish god of fatality is the affable john O’Connell, Glasnevin Cemetery’s caretaker both in Ulysses and in actual life. Everyone in town seems to be on good terms v him, i m sorry is advantageous due to the fact that all must eventually meet v the mr of the Underworld. O’Connell is additionally married to a fertility goddess the sorts, together his wife is mother to eight children, all presumably conceived in their home in the graveyard.


In Greek, the eleventh publication of The Odyssey is entitled Nekuia, which method a rite to summon ghosts in stimulate to question them about the future. In Bloom’s case, plenty of ghosts space summoned, yet they greatly speak of the past. Prefer Odysseus, Bloom looks ~ above the faces of the dead throughout his carriage ride. Bloom’s ghosts take it the kind of publicly statues honoring good men that the past on the roadways of Dublin - teacher Philip Crampton, william Smith O Brien (whose statue to be sculpted through Sir cutting board Farrell), and also the Liberator Daniel O’Connell. As soon as inside the cemetery, Bloom is confronted with monuments to more of Dublin’s glorious dead. The human body of Daniel O’Connell, the ireland Hercules, is interred in ~ “the lofty cone” that a roundtower, a kind of irish omphalos. His heart, however, yes, really is hidden in Rome choose Mr power says. Charles Stewart Parnell, the ireland Agamemnon lugged low through a lover, is entombed there as well. John Henry Menton, a much less eminent figure, is our sideways Ajax. Menton begrudges Bloom over part old slight simply as Ajax snubbed Odysseus in the underworld over a small slight. Joyce observed a great generosity displayed in Odysseus’ outreach to Ajax, together is reflected in Bloom’s attempt to assist Menton fix a “dinge” in his hat.

The Joycean stand-in because that the Theban prophet Tiresias is a slipperier figure. Odysseus travel to the underworld so that he could speak with Tiresias, but it’s no clear at first glance who fills this role for Bloom. Gilbert points come a brief reference to fallen irish rebel Robert Emmet as Bloom’s Tiresias:

“Who lives there? space laid the stays of Robert Emery. Robert Emmet was hidden here by torchlight, wasn’t he? do his rounds.”

Gilbert points come Emmet’s famous quote from his 1803 “Speech from the Dock”:

“When my country takes her place among the nations of the earth, then and not till then, let mine epitaph it is in written: I have actually Done.”

Gilbert functioned quite carefully with Joyce ~ above his analysis guide, for this reason it’s likely Joyce pointed out this parallel come Gilbert, who wrote around the pass out in Emmet"s quote. If you were feeling an innovative or maybe simply sarcastic, you might wonder if Emmet would certainly postpone Ireland’s moment of liberty by selecting to remain alive. Like, he couldn’t have an epitaph written till Ireland is totally free and the couldn’t occur until Emmet died, pushing Ireland’s liberty further and further away if Emmet had actually lived right into old age. Joyce, speaking with Gilbert, found this quote to be an ambiguous little of prophecy follow me the lines of Tiresias’ prophecy because that Odysseus:

“Upon yourself fatality from the sea shall an extremely gently come cut you off bowed down with hale old age.”

I find this every a little bit perplexing as both Joyce and also Gilbert would certainly surely have known that Emmet had passed away at the ripe old age of 25. It every seems like a little of a stretch. The is fitting, however, that Leopold Bloom doesn’t have actually a prophet to overview his means home. R. M. Adams created that fairly than finding clarity in the “underworld” that the cemetery, Bloom “receives neither enlightenment nor direction as to his future.” he embraces the floor of the living, specific in the belief that he is still acquired time top top this earth and that “they room not walk to obtain me this innings.” I mean this is life-affirming, however it is additionally not significantly far-removed from wherein we left him in ~ the finish of “Lotus Eaters.” Bloom will certainly find personal revelation, but his will certainly come from the hallucinatory netherworld the “Circe” quite than the opening oblivion of death. There is no a seer to overview him, the Joycean Odysseus makes his own path.


Bloom no finding his prophecy in “Hades’ is as much an problem of logistics together it is the thematics.. Odysseus travel to the soil of the dead in publication 11 of The Odyssey, simply on the heels of his misadventure v Circe. That no coincidence that Odysseus encountered the Underworld in the eleventh book; the number eleven has long been associated with death. For instance, in The Iliad, Hector’s funeral lasted because that eleven days. Funeral odes (such together Milton’s “Lycidas”) room traditionally eleven stanzas long. In “Nestor,” Stephen’s impenetrable riddle, which ends in a fox burying his grandmother (or mother), the clock is striking eleven. Rudy Bloom died eleven years ago. Bloom had a bath at the Turkish baths at 11 Lincoln Place, a kind of routine ablution before Bloom’s own journey come the soil of the dead. The “Hades” episode takes ar at 11:00. There were eleven mourners in ~ Dignam’s funeral (plus the enigmatic M’Intosh, plus the priest). However, Paddy Dignam’s funeral might not take location in the eleventh illustration of Ulysses, due to the fact that funerals are morning affairs in real-world Dublin.

Bloom’s ruminations ~ above death and also loss contribute to our understanding of him together a completely developed male with a mature sense of the world. “Hades” concludes a 3 episode arc for Bloom and also shows Bloom together a sensitive, thoughtful character. “Calypso” and also “Lotus Eaters,” though delightful in their own ways, depict a man mired in physical pleasures - unhealthy food, fantasies that a whimsical Orient, cheeky bath tub masturbation. That course, Odysseus’ own encounters with Calypso and also the Lotus Eaters also depict the corruption of overindulgence in sex and also sloth. Encountering the grim reality of mortality, Bloom no shrink far or hide himself in denial - he is thoughtful and melancholy as he recalls his shed loved ones and also explores his personal relationship through death. This is Bloom’s “Proteus.” he is challenged with his loneliness and outsider status similar to Stephen, yet Bloom is alone in a crowd rather than alone ~ above an empty beach.

In his publication Ulysses on the Liffey, Richard Ellmann look at “Hades” as the conclusion of a larger Viconian cycle, running parallel come Stephen’s journey in the first three episodes. Joyce was fascinated v Italian thinker Giambattista Vico’s watch that background occurred in cycles, though the recurrence of each cycle reduced in quality. Thus Greek hero Odysseus deserve to transform right into a humble advertisement canvasser in Dublin. Vico’s cycles ramble with three ages (theocratic, aristocratic, democratic) before returning come the beginning of a new cycle. In Ellmann’s view, both Stephen and Bloom’s first three episodes monitor this pattern as well.

As over there is nothing much more democratizing than death, Bloom’s autonomous “age” occurs in the graveyard. Both Stephen and Bloom resolve death and also grief in their third, democratic episode - Stephen v his mom death and Bloom through his father and also son’s deaths. Bloom, much less intellectually innovative but much more emotionally mature, feeling a hollowness at their absence, but is no tortured by images of flesh-chewing ghouls. Both Stephen and also Bloom reflect at one point about seadeath, supposedly the most basic of every deaths and the fatality predicted for Odysseus through Tiresias. Bloom thinks, “Drowning they say is the pleasantest,” when Stephen mirrors that “seadeath is the mildest of every deaths known to man.”

By compare Stephen and Bloom’s thoughts we can see the arising pattern the life and death room two sides of the very same coin. Stephen agonizes end the details that life’s origin, and also by extension, his origin. Stephen puzzles over the beginnings of life, pondering 2 midwives while Bloom contemplates females as preparers the corpses:

“ old mrs peeping. Nose whiteflattened against the pane. Thanking she stars she was passed over. Extraordinary the attention they take in a corpse. Happy to see us go we give them such trouble coming. Job seems to fit them.”

Stephen imagines an every entwining navel cord trailing ago to Adam and Eve, if Bloom sees a uniting symbol in the coffin band. Stephen tangles following with consubstantiality and also the horror of gift born Simon’s son, while Bloom, Stephen’s non-consubstantial father, sits next to Consubstantial Simon in a funeral carriage. Maybe Simon to be a prophet in his very own way, together he advised Stephen in A Portrait the the Artist as a Young Man:

“But we were all gentlemen, Stephen - at least I hope we were - and bloody good Irishmen too. It is the kind of fellows I desire you to combine with, fellows that the right kidney.”

Bloom certainly knows a thing or two around kidneys.

At the near of “Hades,’ then, Bloom has actually completed his cycle. The is able come return indigenous the soil of the dead intact, while likewise concurring with Martha that “I carry out not favor that other world.” Bloom doesn’t encounter any kind of literal ghosts when in Glasnevin -only memories. He has actually fared well versus the pain of death and also oblivion; that doesn’t are afraid or refuse the power of death:

“I carry out not like that other human being she wrote. No an ext do I. Plenty to see and hear and feel yet. Feel live warm beings near you. Allow them sleep in their maggoty beds. They are not walking to get me this innings. Warmth beds: warm fullblooded life.”

The rituals on market to reassuring the grief of losing a friend are of no use to Bloom since he doesn’t believe in their strength - they’re merely a bunch of nominedomines. That doesn’t have intimate relationships with his other mourners to skinny on for support. Even poor Paddy seems prefer an acquaintance in ~ best. Odysseus traveled to the underworld to find out his fate from the seer Tiresias, yet Bloom leaves Glasnevin v no together illumination. He re-emerges, instead, v the expertise of pains of the life world and also his ar within it. The is no engulfed in superordinary horror or a fear of hell. That does the most life-affirming point that the can: that goes top top living.

Further Reading:

Burgess, A. (1968). ReJoyce. Brand-new York: W.W. Norton & Co.

Gilbert, S. (1955). James Joyce’s Ulysses: a study. Brand-new York: Vintage Books.

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Homer, interpreted by Palmer., G.H. (1912). The Odyssey. Mineola, new York: Dover Publications.

Rickard, J. (1997). Stephen Dedalus among schoolchildren: The schoolroom and the riddle of government in Ulysses. Studies in the literature Imagination, 30, 17-36.