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Author Topic: Death and the Hellenic Afterlife  (Read 4747 times)

HumanaeVitae

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Death and the Hellenic Afterlife
« on: October 06, 2011, 04:35:31 pm »
I have a feeling this is not exactly going to be answered quickly, but I hope it will.
If I go by what I've been told for most of my life, Hades is not going to be fun, its not even going to be okay or even neutral, it going to be a sad experience, its grey, dull and I think for the most part you are blind, well doesn't that just suck? You aren't being punished in Tartarus thats a plus, but you aren't experiecing the total bliss package of the Elisium fields. So the afterlife is going to be terribly dull unless you get take up a job slaying monsters for a living and I'm not talking about the energy drink.
This is what I was taught anyway, but lets say its all propaganda, what do Hellenists really believe? Will the afterlife be a really bad case of bland? Which really isn't a problem unless its a relaxing bland, you know an eternal feeling of calm and contentment, that would be nice.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2013, 12:44:51 pm by RandallS »

RandallS

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Re: Death
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2011, 06:05:39 pm »
Quote from: HumanaeVitae;24300
This is what I was taught anyway, but lets say its all propaganda, what do Hellenists really believe? Will the afterlife be a really bad case of bland? Which really isn't a problem unless its a relaxing bland, you know an eternal feeling of calm and contentment, that would be nice.

I don't know. The ancients Greeks had a number of very different ideas at different times and places. But bland describes the most common view.
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Mata

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Re: Death and the Hellenic Afterlife
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2011, 06:18:40 pm »
Quote from: HumanaeVitae;24300
I have a feeling this is not exactly going to be answered quickly, but I hope it will.
If I go by what I've been told for most of my life, Hades is not going to be fun, its not even going to be okay or even neutral, it going to be a sad experience, its grey, dull and I think for the most part you are blind, well doesn't that just suck? You aren't being punished in Tartarus thats a plus, but you aren't experiecing the total bliss package of the Elisium fields. So the afterlife is going to be terribly dull unless you get take up a job slaying monsters for a living and I'm not talking about the energy drink.
This is what I was taught anyway, but lets say its all propaganda, what do Hellenists really believe? Will the afterlife be a really bad case of bland? Which really isn't a problem unless its a relaxing bland, you know an eternal feeling of calm and contentment, that would be nice.

 As Randall said, there's a lot of viewpoints, and they varied with time. I am no expert, but I know that the Pythagoreans taught a type of reincarnation, as did the Orphics. And the Stoics and Epicureans thought that individuality and the 'soul' dissolved at death; in addition to the Homeric conception of Shades, Hades, etc.
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HumanaeVitae

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Re: Death and the Hellenic Afterlife
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2011, 06:33:33 pm »
Quote from: RandallS;24307
I don't know. The ancients Greeks had a number of very different ideas at different times and places. But bland describes the most common view.

 
Quote from: Mata;24311
As Randall said, there's a lot of viewpoints, and they varied with time. I am no expert, but I know that the Pythagoreans taught a type of reincarnation, as did the Orphics. And the Stoics and Epicureans thought that individuality and the 'soul' dissolved at death; in addition to the Homeric conception of Shades, Hades, etc.

 
Hmmm, so it varied from phisophical school to school? Interesting, what do you personally believe?

Mata

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Re: Death and the Hellenic Afterlife
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2011, 06:46:57 pm »
Quote from: HumanaeVitae;24313
Hmmm, so it varied from phisophical school to school? Interesting, what do you personally believe?

 
Yes, just like with nearly all aspects of Hellenic religion, it varied a lot, and there was never a single answer to any problem or question. The afterlife and fate of the psykhe was no exception. ;)

Personally? I have no clue whatsoever. I am just really beginning to walk the path of Hellenic polytheism, so it's all both new, and amazingly familiar (since I've been enamored with Greek myth since I was old enough to pick up a book); but I would like to think that there's a pleasant afterlife waiting for me. Even so, I think it's more important to focus on the life we have, and to worship and honor the Gods. The afterlife is periphery, since we will never truly know what lies after we pass into death.  That isn't to say it's not fascinating to philosophize and speculate about, because I sure do :p

But yeah, I have no clue, although that may change.
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Nyktelios

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Re: Death and the Hellenic Afterlife
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2011, 09:14:49 pm »
Quote from: HumanaeVitae;24313
Hmmm, so it varied from phisophical school to school? Interesting, what do you personally believe?

 
Yeah, there wasn't really any consensus in ancient Greece. Some believed in a dark and dingy afterlife in the underworld for everyone regardless of how they lived their lives, some believed souls of dead people lived in certain kinds of beans and  reincarnated when women would get pregnant from eating them. Elysion was originally for the most virtuous heroes, but I think over time it was believed in as a more general place for the "good" people, while Tartaros was for the "bad" people. Different ideas developed over time and place.

I'm not sure what I personally believe. I think the cosmos moves in cycles, so I think there is some kind of rebirth. I don't know if I believe in individual "souls" which reincarnate individually, or if our spiritual essence just rejoins the collective until it moves back into physical manifestation in the world, whether in a unique body or as an animating force in nature generally. I think the underworld of Hades and Persephone is more poetry than literal truth.

RandallS

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Re: Death and the Hellenic Afterlife
« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2011, 10:12:11 pm »
Quote from: HumanaeVitae;24313
Interesting, what do you personally believe?

I believe that we don't know. Any belief on my part would simply be a guess. :)
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Figment99

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Re: Death and the Hellenic Afterlife
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2011, 12:28:04 am »
Quote from: HumanaeVitae;24313
Hmmm, so it varied from phisophical school to school? Interesting, what do you personally believe?

 
It also varied with the different syncretism of Hellenism as time and the culture moved, such as the Greco-Buddhism and Greco-Egyptian...that is if you are not looking for a  pure Hellenistic only approach.
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drekfletch

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Re: Death and the Hellenic Afterlife
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2011, 07:36:56 pm »
Quote from: HumanaeVitae;24313
what do you personally believe?

 
I view the soul as dissolving back into the spiritual cloud half of the Boundless, much like the body dissolves back into the physical cloud half.  I view Hades as the 'gate' through which we pass.  The point of dissolution.

After death, while the body is being tended by the survivors, the soul is being tended by the psychopomps (Hermes for me).
I'm undecided in my beliefs between the following:
Hades is Lord and Guardian of a 'gate' through which we pass to be dissolved.
Hades is a spirit-cloud-emanation which we merge with.

To use a physical analogy, I'm not sure if Hades watches over the banks of the rivermouth, or if he is the estuary itself.
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Staff of Sekhmet

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Re: Death and the Hellenic Afterlife
« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2012, 11:10:41 pm »
Quote from: HumanaeVitae;24300
If I go by what I've been told for most of my life, Hades is not going to be fun, its not even going to be okay or even neutral, it going to be a sad experience, its grey, dull and I think for the most part you are blind, well doesn't that just suck? You aren't being punished in Tartarus thats a plus, but you aren't experiecing the total bliss package of the Elisium field.

 
Well there were lots of other ideas about the afterlife in ancient Greece too. As a few people already mentioned, reincarnation being among them. As for the fields of Asphodel being bland as compared to Elysium, well even a bland existence can be fairly pleasant :)

Crohm

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Re: Death and the Hellenic Afterlife
« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2012, 08:56:10 pm »
Quote from: HumanaeVitae;24300
I have a feeling this is not exactly going to be answered quickly, but I hope it will.
If I go by what I've been told for most of my life, Hades is not going to be fun, its not even going to be okay or even neutral, it going to be a sad experience, its grey, dull and I think for the most part you are blind, well doesn't that just suck? You aren't being punished in Tartarus thats a plus, but you aren't experiecing the total bliss package of the Elisium fields. So the afterlife is going to be terribly dull unless you get take up a job slaying monsters for a living and I'm not talking about the energy drink.
This is what I was taught anyway, but lets say its all propaganda, what do Hellenists really believe? Will the afterlife be a really bad case of bland? Which really isn't a problem unless its a relaxing bland, you know an eternal feeling of calm and contentment, that would be nice.

There are two that come to mind to me:

The Asphodel Meadows is where the souls of people who lived lives of near equal good and evil rested. It essentially was a plain of Asphodel flowers, which were the favorite food of the Greek dead. It is described as a ghostly place that is an even less perfect version of life on earth.  Some depictions describe it as a land of utter neutrality. That is, while the people are neither good nor evil, so are their lives treated, as they mechanically perform their daily tasks.

The Elysian Fields, was once the place of those who were heroes, it was later expanded to those who lead lives of righteousness and virtue.  Thereby making it a sort of Greek 'heaven'.

To use a historical reference if you prefer from Pindar's Odes describes the reward waiting for those living a righteous life:

the good receive a life free from toil, not scraping with the strength of their arms the earth, nor the water of the sea, for the sake of a poor sustenance. But in the presence of the honored gods, those who gladly kept their oaths enjoy a life without tears, while the others undergo a toil that is unbearable to look at. Those who have persevered three times, on either side, to keep their souls free from all wrongdoing, follow Zeus' road to the end, to the tower of Cronus, where ocean breezes blow around the island of the blessed, and flowers of gold are blazing, some from splendid trees on land, while water nurtures others. With these wreaths and garlands of flowers they entwine their hands according to the righteous counsels of Rhadamanthys, whom the great father, the husband of Rhea whose throne is above all others, keeps close beside him as his partner

- Pindar, Odes (2.59-75)


I hope, this assists you in any way, even if it is a zombie thread.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2012, 08:58:11 pm by Crohm »
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Agonistes

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Re: Death and the Hellenic Afterlife
« Reply #11 on: October 04, 2012, 01:21:50 pm »
Quote from: Crohm;72031

The Elysian Fields, was once the place of those who were heroes, it was later expanded to those who lead lives of righteousness and virtue.  Thereby making it a sort of Greek 'heaven'.

 
I believe in Elysium, as well as the idea of reincarnation.

In my mind, when your soul grows tired and is willing to start "a-new" we, our spirit, can choose to reincarnate.

Jezebel

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Re: Death and the Hellenic Afterlife
« Reply #12 on: October 04, 2012, 01:42:15 pm »
Quote from: Agonistes;75877
I believe in Elysium, as well as the idea of reincarnation.

In my mind, when your soul grows tired and is willing to start "a-new" we, our spirit, can choose to reincarnate.

 
I've always sort of believed in reincarnation so I choose to pick that road out of the mash that is one of many 'Ancient Greek' ideas on the afterlife.

I will drink from the river Lethe and be reborn.

Chausette

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Re: Death and the Hellenic Afterlife
« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2012, 09:38:45 pm »
Quote from: Agonistes;75877
I believe in Elysium, as well as the idea of reincarnation.

In my mind, when your soul grows tired and is willing to start "a-new" we, our spirit, can choose to reincarnate.

This is sort of what I believe, too. Although I believe in the Underworld, too, as a sort of 'holding place' until you're ready to reincarnate. I never liked the idea of a permanent afterlife - seems like even paradise would get boring after awhile.

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