In Freiheit gebundenOdysseus am Mastbaum als Modell für den Homo viator

Abstract / DOI

Bound in Freedom: Ulysses Tied to the Mast – a Model for the «homo viator». The myth of Ulysses tied to the mast, listening to the sirens without giving in to their lure, resonated in patristic theology in many ways. The motif of binding oneself to the cross provided a model for the Christian life in resistance to the dangers of the world. The sirens thus became a figure of carnal temptations and worldly wisdom. But there were more positive interpretations as well: Clemens of Alexandria claims a dialogue with the greek wisdom in order to better understand faith; Ambrosius values the asthetic appeal of the sirens to emphasize the beauty of faith even more; Maximus of Turin interprets the bound Ulysses as a prefiguration of the Crucified who has beaten the power of death. On the treshold of the modern age we find interpretations of the myth of Ulysses in Dante, later on in Paul Claudel and others. The experience to be profoundly lost and to be bound to this fact is a signature of 20th century literature. Hans Urs von Balthasars theology of Holy Saturday, which elaborates the motif of the descensus ad inferos, echoes this experience.

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