Achilles is lying asleep on the beach when the ghost of his friend Patroklos appears to him, the same stature as when he was alive, the same eyes, the same voice, even the clothes the same, everything as if it were real. He is unhappy, restless, because already dead but not yet buried. You have forgotten me, he says, bent over Achilles' head. During my life you never forgot me, but now you have forgotten me. Bury me as soon as you can, let me through the gates of Hades, the ghosts are keeping me out, they won't allow me to cross the river. Patroklos, with the knowledge of the dead or the deathless, predicts the early death of his friend and makes him promise that their cremated bones will be buried together, just as they grew up together, in the house of Peleus, after he - Patroklos - was banished from his parental home for accidentally killing someone, childlike exuberance, such things happen. When Patroklos is finished speaking, Achilles wants to embrace him, to share their grief, but as soon as he reaches out the shade disappears with a thin, batlike cry, as smoke under the earth. So there really is in the realm of Hades something - a double, a ghost - but without substance, Achilles says to his comrades, for all night Patroklos stood over me, crying and deploring, looking just like his living self.

© 2009–2023, Martijn Wallage