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By Richard P. Taylor

Filenote: PDF retail from ebsco. PDF is ebsco's reflow pdf, so now not the good PDF imprint. Paginated. name is was once in ABC-CLIO catalog, so probably the bankruptcy rips are nonetheless on hand and perhaps a greater imprint. Will hold looking.
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Readers of Death and the Afterlife: A Cultural Encyclopedia will locate that spending time with loss of life is life-giving in so much cultures at the present time and all through historical past. The Underworld, no matter if the Greek Hades or the chinese language Yellow Springs, isn't just a repository of the lifeless, however the resource of fertility, wealth, and hidden knowledge bestowed merely upon the adventurous who pass the border among this global and the next.

This accomplished reference paintings comprises 1000's of entries at the occasionally imprecise, complex, and mysterious (but constantly attention-grabbing) funeral customs of dozens of cultures. greater than a meeting of knowledge, this reference attracts out the underlying which means of funeral and afterlife traditions. every one access is largely documented and contains the insights of considerate local authors and commentaries at once concerning the cultural subject handy. a subject finder by way of tradition, a bibliography, an index, and first resource references are integrated.

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In his work Olympian (2:61–74), the poet Pindar (fifth century B. C. E. ) described a land of  days and nights of equal length, without weather, and decorated by water and trees of gold blossoms. In Songs of Mourning Pindar describes the happy dead playing  sports, listening to music, and enjoying the smell of sacrifices made to the gods, all in sunlit meadows full of fruit trees. This shift in thought is most likely to be attributed to the growing importance of the so­called mystery schools in Greek culture and the corresponding belief in the soul  (psyche) as an immortal spirit that will be held accountable for its actions in the future. The mystery teachings were secret, and it is difficult to reconstruct their beliefs,  particularly as they might have varied from cult center to cult center. Nevertheless, it seems certain that besides the healing of sickness and worldly woes, the initiate in  the mysteries was entitled to a beatific afterlife, whether in Elysion or some other locale. A recently discovered epitaph of a Bythinian initiate states that he has traveled  not to dark Acheron (in Hades) but to the “harbor of the blest. ”   By the fourth century B. C. E. , belief in and activity toward a beatific afterlife was quite popular, perhaps strengthened by the influx of Near Eastern and particularly  Iranian religions that explicitly taught a paradise after death for the good and just souls. Guidebooks have actually been found in graves of initiates in the Orphic  mysteries in the form of hammered gold tablets with guidance for the afterlife. After warnings not to lose one’s memory at the spring of Lethe (Forgetfulness), the initiate  was instructed to state his or her divine ancestry as a soul and gain entrance into paradise. By Roman times the idea of an ethical afterlife for all people had become dominant. Rather than needing special initiation into a mystery school, all the deceased were to  be judged, with sinners condemned to Tartaros and the virtuous destined for Elysium. In Book VI of the Aeneid by Virgil, Elysium is no longer located at the edges of  the ocean as in the Greek conception but in its own separate area of Hades, complete with its own sun and stars. Curiously, while in Elysium visiting his father Anchises,  the hero Aeneas meets the future heroes of Rome, who wait in Elysium for their birth on earth; doctrines of the preexistence of the soul and even repeated  reincarnation had become commonplace. Such beliefs also appear in Cicero’s work “The Dream of Scipio” at the end of On the Republic, in which we find that even  the horrific punishment in Tartaros is temporary. After centuries of torturous purification, all souls eventually make their way back to the “celestial sphere” of Elysium,  whence they will proceed on again to be reborn in the mortal world. It is obvious that from the original Greek notion of the Elysian Fields for the rare hero, later Greek  and Roman speculation took the idea of paradise for all in distinctly ethical directions.

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