Greek MythologyMythology

4 People in Greek Mythology Who Came Back From the Dead

Even in mythology, death is usually final. Most people don’t come back. Most people.

Termed katabasis, the process of descending into and then returning from the underworld is a relatively common trope in world mythologies. It’s something usually reserved for heroes and associates or people directly connected to gods. This is the case in Greek Mythology at least. Here are 4 people in Greek mythology who came back from the dead.

Table of Contents

1. Sisyphus

Punishment sisyph

Sisyphus might be the most questionable on this list since, although he did go to the underworld and come back, he didn’t manage to stay on earth for very long. And he didn’t go into the underworld of his own accord. Far from it. The way he got out was by, before death, ordering his wife to mistreat his corpse. Once in the underworld, he argued with Persephone that he should be allowed to go back and avenge the disrespect his wife showed him. Persephone allowed him to. And he just…refused to come back. He was later dragged back.

2. Orpheus

Franc Kavčič - The Lament of Orpheus

Orpheus went to Hades and back for his wife. Or, he tried to. After his wife died from a snakebite, Orpheus was so distraught that he journeyed to the underworld to ask for her back. He was a famed musician and played so beautifully that he was allowed to take her back. On one condition: on the journey to the upper world, he must not look back. The moment he was out, he looked back. Unfortunately, she was still technically not out. So she vanished. He would only be reunited with her after his own death.

3. Alcestis

J H Tischbein dÄ Alkeste 2

In a complicated tragedy where King Admetus was doomed to die unless he found someone to take his place, his wife Alcestis volunteered. She did die, but she was rescued by Herakles later.

4. Theseus

The famed hero Theseus and his best friend Pirithous went to the underworld to abduct Persephone so that Pirithous could marry her. Bad idea. She was the queen of the underworld. And also married to Hades. During their journey, Theseus sat down on a rock to rest and was trapped there. When he turned to ask his friend for help, he saw him surrounded by the Furies, who dragged him away. Theseus was still trapped, and remained that way for months. Until Herakles came along. As part of his Labors, Herakles had to go to the underworld himself. In the process, he managed to convince Persephone to forgive Theseus and let him go. Pirithous remained, however.

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