In Greek mythology, there are two distinct ways to communicate with the dead:

  • A Nekyia (νέκυια) is a ritual to summon the dead. An example of this is Odysseus in the Odyssey.
  • A Katabasis (κατάβασις) is a journey into the Underworld while still living. Heracles is one hero who did this.

Who did these things and what were their reasons? Was it personal? Did a god tell them to? Is it some labor (Heracles) they must complete? Or something else?

  • 2
    I automatically upvoted because I tend to like your questions, but as I'm revisiting, I'm unsure of what you're actually asking... Can you restate the question more clearly?
    – DukeZhou
    Mar 23, 2018 at 21:42
  • A lot of people visit the underworld or summon ghosts for some reason. I'm asking, for it is not always clear, who is going to the underworld? Who is summoning ghosts? Why are they doing these things? What are their reasons? Is it personal? Did a god tell them to? Is it some labor (Heracles) they must complete? Or is it some other reason? Mar 25, 2018 at 14:33

2 Answers 2

  • Orpheus traveled to the underworld and returned.

  • Theseus traveled to the underworld and returned, with the help of Heracles (although his companion Pirithous was not so lucky.)

Reasons could vary. With Orpheus, it was love of his departed wife. With Theseus, it was for fame, and specifically on behalf of his friend.


Goddess Persephone goes to the underworld I believe six months out of the year then she's released back on the earth for the other six that's how we have the seasons when she was gone the Earth was freezing

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    Both nekyia and katabasis refer to mortal people, not gods.
    – yannis
    Jul 13, 2019 at 15:03
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    Could you flesh out this answer a little? You believe she goes to the underworld - why? voluntarily? Then is released, again why? by whom? That would make a much better answer.
    – Chenmunka
    Jul 13, 2019 at 17:18

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