The After Dinner Scholar

Journeys Among the Dead by Dr. Glenn Arbery

August 2, 2022

In his poem The Four Quartets, T. S. Eliot wrote:

“What the dead had no speech for, when living,

They can tell you, being dead: the communication

Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.”

In Homer’s Odyssey, Virgil’s Aeneid, and Dante’s Divine Comedy, we read about encounters with those who have died. Odysseus seeks wisdom from the prophet Teiresias and his mother, Anikleia (Odyssey 11.1-224). Aeneas meets his father Anchises, parent and prophet (Aeneid 6.739-983). And Dante holds a long conversation in Heaven with his great-great-grandfather, Cacciaguida who also assumes the role of prophet (Paradiso 15-17).

What can we learn from these fictional encounters with the dead? Dr. Glenn Arbery gave this introduction at the 2022 Wyoming School of Catholic Thought.

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