The nekyia is a familiar metaphor for the reception of antiquity; talking with the dead we understand the past, influence the present or foresee the future. Plato, re-inventing the Homeric katabasis and nekyia,
moralised the afterlife; his eschatalogical fables allow for judgement and punishment and therefore for redress.
My chapter examines Seferis’ ‘Επί ασπαλάθων’ and Heaneys’
rejoinder, “To George Seferis in the Underworld”, alongside Heaney’s essay The Redress of Poetry. Plato remains “the court of appeal”. I argue that a classically-informed poetry of redress will have
three distinctive features: an insistence on the local, specific and topical; direct reference to a classical text; a primary allegiance to the integrity of the poetic imagination.
Heaney’s confrontation with the shade of Seferis reveals correspondences
and contrasts between two national literatures (Irish and Greek) as each poet tests the authority of the classics in the contemporary public sphere.
Published in Re-Imagining the Past: Antiquity and Modern Greek Culture, ed. Dimitris Tziovas
(OUP, 2014), pp. 318–29.