Literary descriptions of the underworld present it as a realm full of contradictions. They prove to be problematical, when they are analysed as real physical phenomena that conform to the laws of physics, time and space. Any attempt to map the underworld as real thus quickly becomes futile. But this does not mean that the underworld is illogical or incongruous. This seminar offers an alternative methodology for surveying underworld topography that emphasises its metaphysical nature. Using as a case-study Homer’s grove of Persephone, it demonstrates how particular geographical features draw upon connotative associations and intertextual allusions in order to describe imagined metaphysical ‘realities’ rather than actual physical ones.

About Classics and Ancient History Seminars

Classics and Ancient History seminars are followed by a wine-and-cheese reception ($2 coin donation per person). Enquiries about the seminars may be made to Associate Professor Tom Stevenson.

The Friends of Antiquity, an alumni organisation of the University, runs its own series of public lectures, which take place on Sunday afternoons. The Friends’ program for 2017 can be found at


Michie Building (9)