LUCAS Explains #5: Why face the dead? About finding meaning in life.

LUCAS Explains #5: Why face the dead? About finding meaning in life.

In these challenging times of the corona virus, a lot of people are afraid to lose their loved ones. In fact, the virus exposes the oldest fear of humankind, our fear of death. This fear has always inspired literary writers to create visits to the world of the dead. Amaranth Feuth explains why.

Many people know the name of Dante Alighieri, the Italian poet who wrote the Divine Comedy, in which Dante’s alter ego visited hell, purgatory, and had a vision of heaven. In fact, the visit to the afterlife was already present in Ancient Greek and Latin epics, and is still quite often used in literature today. It has become a motif which connects writers to the literary tradition that raised them, and an instrument for these writers to show that they know their classics. As a result, visiting the dead gives poets a place within the literary canon themselves, but also gives us as readers meaning in life during crises such as the current corona crisis.

Amaranth Feuth, 'Why face the dead? About finding meaning in life'.


In the video series LUCAS Explains, young researchers tell about current societal and cultural topics from a historical or fresh point of view. The subjects range from diversity to national identity and from inclusiveness to migration. The videos stretch the history from the Classics to the present and from Europe to Asia. LUCAS Explains is published every other Tuesday. LUCAS Explains is a video series of Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society and SOON media Amsterdam.

Disclaimer: because of the COVID-19 virus, the publication of LUCAS Explains may be more irregular.


The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research
Leiden University Libraries
Nozem Audio


Inferno – Ecosia
Botticelli – Wikimedia Commons
Derek Walcott – Wikipedia
Soufrière – Wikipedia

© Amaranth Feuth and Leiden Arts in Society Blog, 2020. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Amaranth Feuth and Leiden Arts in Society Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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