Title

Middle-earth as Underworld: From Katabasis to Eucatastrophe

Document Type

Contribution to Book

Publication Date

1-16-2021

Abstract

I examine how Tolkien draws on ancient stories of 'underworld journey' (katabasis) and 'encounter with the dead' (nekyia) to deepen central themes in his mythos, including 'loss', 'death', and 'forgetting'. Focusing on examples from The Silmarillion (such as the cosmic 'fall' of the Elves and Lúthien's descent into Angband) and The Lord of the Rings (such as Gandalf's combat with the Flame of Udûn, the Mines of Moria, and the Paths of the Dead), I argue that, whereas the ancient stories depict the ineluctability of death in the negative, for Tolkien everything is measured against the positive prospect of afterlife everlasting. In that context, even 'underworld journey' is a sign of 'intrinsic cosmic turn for the better', such that katabasis is linked to eucatastrophe.

Editor

Hamish Williams

Publisher

Walking Tree Publishers

ISBN

9783905703450

Publication Information

Tolkien and the Classical World

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