Katabatic narratives

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

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Katabasis, meaning literally, “a going down”, is the ancient Greek term for the story of a hero’s descent to the underworld. Etymologically, “katabasis” in ancient Greek could refer to a place from which descents are made, such as a cave mouth, or to a military manoeuvre involving a descent. Both of these etymological senses are relevant to twenty-first century political events, such as the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq after 9/11, for these events have been narrativised in the media, in documentary accounts, and in subsequent literary fiction as descent journeys from the West into an infernal East (Falconer 2005).

Metaphorically, katabasis (or in Latin, descensus ad inferos) was used by the Greeks to refer to a story about a living person who visits the land of the Dead and

2894 words

Citation: Falconer, Rachel. "Katabatic narratives". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 17 October 2011 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=17641, accessed 12 June 2024.]

17641 Katabatic narratives 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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