The Iliad Mortality Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Book.Line). We used Richmond Lattimore's translation.
The ghost came and stood over his head and spoke a word to him:
You sleep, Achilleus; you have forgotten me; but you were not
careless of me when I lived, but only in death. Bury me
as quickly as may be, let me pass through the gates of Hades.
The souls, the images of dead men, hold me at a distance,
and will not let me cross the river and mingle among them,
but I wander as I am by Hades' house of the wide gates.
And I call upon you in sorrow, give me your hand; no longer
shall I come back from death, once you give me my rite of burning. (23.68-76)
Do you believe in ghosts? If you don't, that's okay; bear in mind that Patroklos's ghost only appears in a dream – so it could all be Achilleus's imagination. Whichever way you interpret it, though, what the ghost of Patroklos says is very relevant to the way we think about mortality today.
Isn't Patroklos really asking for "closure," the same word we hear constantly these days on TV, the radio, in self-help books – basically anywhere people turn to get advice on dealing with grief? What do you think changes when, as here, these ideas are put in the mouth of a dead man, or (if you prefer) the image of a dead man?