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Aspects of Death and the Afterlife in Greek Literature$
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George Alexander Gazis and Anthony Hooper

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781789621495

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789621495.001.0001

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A Path Neither Simple Nor Single

A Path Neither Simple Nor Single

The Afterlife as Good to Think With

(p.11) 1 A Path Neither Simple Nor Single
Aspects of Death and the Afterlife in Greek Literature

Radcliffe G. Edmonds III

Liverpool University Press

This chapter suggests that the afterlife is a very prominent concept for the ancient Greeks, and surveys a wide variety of evidence to demonstrate the myriad ways in which the Greeks conceived of the afterlife, and the ends to which such visions were deployed. This evidence covers treatments of the afterlife created over millennia throughout the Greek world, including the treatment it receives in poetry, painting, philosophy, and funerary rites. Edmonds organises these accounts through appealing to three categories: 1) visions of continuation, in which post-mortem existence is imagined as analogous to that enjoyed in life; 2) visions of compensation, in which the afterlife is seen as a correction of living existence; and 3) cosmological visions, where thinkers situate the afterlife within a wider account of the nature and function of the world. The key insight of Edmonds’ paper is that, to see Hades as a monolithic theological concept is to miss out on the particularly versatile nature of Greek beliefs, which in turn runs the danger of relegating equally valid conceptions of the afterlife to strictly cultic or minority-based divergences from the norm.

Keywords:   poetry, painting, funerary rites, Hades, afterlife

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