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Hellenism Inquiry

Post  RoseEtNoir on Sun Mar 24, 2013 4:40 pm

What is the Hellenistic perspective on what happens after death? I've been told it varies between sect and that's about the extent of my knowledge on the subject... study

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Re: Hellenism Inquiry

Post  Erodius on Sun Mar 24, 2013 4:58 pm

It does depend on the sect.

In general Greek religion, beliefs about the afterlife generally agreed that, a. there was an afterlife, b. it was something like earth in that it had various regions, c. it was overseen by Haides and His bride Kore, d. it was not escapable under ordinary circumstances, and e. it was not a particularly cheerful place for most.

But for followers of some particular salvific cults, like Isidianism, Mithraism, Orphism, Manichaeism, Gnosticism and early Christianity, the picture of the afterlife was much more specific and often very different from the above points.

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"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
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Hellenism Inquiry

Post  RoseEtNoir on Sun Mar 24, 2013 5:07 pm

"it was not a particularly cheerful place for most." Meaning for some it was a cheerful place? Example? And are the regions known? How/are they divided?

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Re: Hellenism Inquiry

Post  Erodius on Sun Mar 24, 2013 5:20 pm

Yes, for some individuals it was. Those who died honorably were thought to dwell in Elysium and enjoy pleasure and happiness forever in companionship with the great heroes of past generations, an honor which was later extended in the thoughts of many people to anyone who lived a life of exemplary goodness. Average people were thought to dwell in the Meadow of Asphodel, a grey, cool, quiet and somber place that was more boring than it was frightening, initiates of mystery cults were thought to enjoy companionship with the Gods and eternal dance, song and merriment, while genuinely awful people had particular punishments assigned to them, usually inspired by whatever wicked deed had sent them 'hellbound' in the first place — i.e. Tantalus and the pool and fruit tree, the Belides and the water jars, Ixion on the wagon wheel, and Sisyphos and the boulder on the hill.

Also in the Underworld were several bodies of 'water': the river Styx (river of fear), the river Akheron (river of purification), the river Phlegethon (river of fire), and the river Kokytos (river of weeping). In Orphic tradition, there were also two springs, the Spring of Lethe (forgetfulness/oblivion) and the Spring of Mnemosyne (memory).

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"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Hellenism Inquiry

Post  RoseEtNoir on Sun Mar 24, 2013 5:36 pm

was there a purpose for these bodies of "water"?

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Re: Hellenism Inquiry

Post  Callisto on Wed Apr 03, 2013 2:44 pm

was there a purpose for these bodies of "water"?
Acheron is the river that leads from the land of the living, the one Kharon ferries you across. Springing off of Acheron is Kokytus, the river of lamentation where those souls who don't have a coin languish. Acheron connects with Styx, which carries one onto the Underworld. Phlegethon is the river of fire the flows into Tartarus where the wicked reside. Lethe and Mnemosyne are remembrance (or lack thereof), which you drink from accordingly - if you were an average person you'll drink from Lethe to forget, however initiates of the Mysteries drank from Mnsemosyne to remember.

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