Death in the Greek World From Homer to the Classical Age

ISBN-10: 0806141875
ISBN-13: 9780806141879
Edition: 2012
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Description: In our contemporary Western society, death has become taboo. Despite its inevitability, we focus on maintaining youthfulness and well-being, while fearing death’s intrusion in our daily activities. In contrast, observes Maria Serena Mirto, the  More...

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Book details

Copyright year: 2012
Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
Publication date: 1/15/2012
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 208
Size: 5.75" wide x 9.00" long x 0.50" tall
Weight: 0.638
Language: English

In our contemporary Western society, death has become taboo. Despite its inevitability, we focus on maintaining youthfulness and well-being, while fearing death’s intrusion in our daily activities. In contrast, observes Maria Serena Mirto, the ancient Greeks embraced death more openly and effectively, developing a variety of rituals to help them grieve the dead and, in the process, alleviate anxiety and suffering. In this fascinating book, Mirto examines conceptions of death and the afterlife in the ancient Greek world, revealing few similarities—and many differences—between ancient and modern ways of approaching death.Exploring the cultural and religious foundations underlying Greek burial rites and customs, Mirto traces the evolution of these practices during the archaic and classical periods. She explains the relationship between the living and the dead as reflected in grave markers, epitaphs, and burial offerings and discusses the social and political dimensions of burial and lamentation. She also describes shifting beliefs about life after death, showing how concepts of immortality, depicted so memorably in Homer’s epics, began to change during the classical period.Death in the Greek Worldstraddles the boundary between literary and religious imagination and synthesizes observations from archaeology, visual art, philosophy, politics, and law. The author places particular emphasis on Homer’s epics, the firstliterary testimony of an understanding of death in ancient Greece. And because these stories are still so central to Western culture, her discussion casts new light on elements we thought we had already understood.Originally written and published in Italian, this English-language translation ofDeath in the Greek Worldincludes the most recent scholarship on newly discovered texts and objects, and engages the latest theoretical perspectives on the gendered roles of men and women as agents of mourning. The volume also features a new section dealing with hero cults and a new appendix outlining fundamental developments in modern studies of death in the ancient Greek world.

List of Figures
Preface
Introduction
Life after Death in Popular Belief
The Psyche
Hades
Elysium
The Gods in Hades and Guides on the Voyage to the Underworld
A Revolution of Hope
Introduction
The Eleusinian Mysteries
Dionysian Initiations
The Bacchic Gold Tablets, Pindar, and other "Orphic" Evidence
Pythagorean Eschatology and the Derveni Papyrus
The Soul/Body Opposition from Pindar to Plato
The Long Farewell
Death and Contamination
Mourning Ceremonies
Cremation, Inhumation, and the Final Rites
The Final Resting Place and a New Bond
Introduction
Stelae, Monuments, and Epitaphs
Tomb Cult and Hero Cult
Making Good Use of Death
Heroic Death in Battle
The Polis and Funerary Ideology
Legislation and Funerary Regulations
Appendix: Studies of Death in Anthropology, Social History, and Psychology
Glossary
Bibliography
General Index
Index of Ancient Texts

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