Philosophy: Ancient Believes On Life After Death Essay, Research Paper
The Romans, Greeks and Egyptians all share many common beliefs such as the belief in the Gods, spirits, souls and ultimately life after death. Although, these cultures share common beliefs, there are still very different ideas and ways in which they related and communicated with the dead. The Egyptians believed the idea of eternal and actual death was incomprehensible. As for the Greeks and Romans, they also share a similar view of what life is like after death, because they believed death was seen as “nothingness”. To all of these cultures death was just a mere interruption of life and not the actual end of a life.
The Egyptians lived a similar life to those of the Roman and Greek cultures in that they believed in the Gods, spirits, souls and relating with the dead. The Egyptians did not directly communicate with the dead in a physical form, instead they continued relationships with the spirits and souls of the dead.
They were able to relate to the dead through their tombs, offerings, celebrations and spirits and souls. The Egyptians were able to communicate with the dead through spirits. The spirits would come to them through thoughts or dreams, but not as actual living beings. The spirits would speak to the Egyptians and aid them with predictions of what the future would hold for them and their families. They would write letters to the dead and speak of their ancestors. The Egyptians like the Greeks and Romans would hold celebrations and ceremonies for the dead. The Gods or spirits were given gifts or sacrifices in order to communicate with the dead. At the tombs, there would be gifts for the Ka and a ceremony for the dead as a way of relating to the dead and believing that they are still very much alive even after they are removed from earth.
An Egyptian could make arrangements with the Ka Priests while he was still alive on earth stating that they wished to be provided with food offerings at their graves or in the temples of the dead. The physical bodies of the dead were preserved with oils and wrapped in long strips of linen and placed within coffins and shrines. The Egyptians, Romans and Greeks believed the dead have to be buried in a particular way in order for their souls and spirits to rise and come back to life. Their belief was that if the dead were not buried properly their souls would be looked upon in a bad way.
The Egyptians believed after leaving the earth as a human being the dead crossed a threshold of death into a beautiful place or afterlife. Their idea of the location or place where the dead lived after leaving earth was similar to that of the Greeks and Romans. Although, the names and meanings of the place where the dead were housed was different, they were still very much like that of the Greeks and Romans “underworld”. The Egyptians believed the dead should be buried with all their materialistic possessions, so they may enjoy eternal life even after their death. They thought the dead should not only be buried with their materialistic goods but drinking vessels and dishes for food and earthly riches that surrounded them in the kingdom of the dead.
The Greeks and Romans were able to directly communicate with the dead after conducting certain rituals or tasks. These rituals allowed them to see the dead and speak with them as though they were still human. The dead appeared in their dreams and thoughts and gave them advice and information that would help them in their future journeys and lives. These are similar to that of the Egyptians when their ancestor’s would come to them in their dreams and thoughts. The Greeks and Romans like the Egyptians also celebrated the dead by offering sacrifices and competitions. They all shared the spirits in the form of birds. The doves for the Romans, Ba birds for the Egyptians and eagles for the Greeks, were all symbols and signs of spirits.
The Greeks and Romans believed in the Gods, spirits and souls, however, they had the ability to communicate with the dead in a physical form. They continued to talk to the dead as if they were still living as humans on earth. The Greeks and Romans both had places where the dead would live or go after death. These common and well-known places for the dead were found in what the Greeks and Romans called the “underworld”. Although the Greeks and Romans shared a common idea of the underworld and its purpose, their names and meanings were not the same.
The Romans were able to communicate with the dead in their underworld called “Dis”. In Dis there were no such thing as Heaven and Hell, all the dead went to one common place and the good and bad were separated by fields or allotted places. Dis was divided into sections (fields) with greater punishments allotted to those with greater sins. The good simply had a better place (field) called ‘The Fields of Gladness’ which was inside a huge dungeon. The worst sinners were held in what was an enormous fortress, where tortures were carried out. In this fortress the dead’s crimes, sins and confessions were heard which is similar to that of the Christian conception of “judgment after death”. In order for Aeneid to communicate with the dead he had to go into the woods and search for the golden branch. Once he received this branch he was able to travel to Dis and communicate with the dead. Once at Dis Aeneid searched for his father who was the only one that could tell him how to complete his journey.
The Greeks were able to communicate with the dead by traveling to Hades – the land of the dead. Once in Hades, Odysseus conducted the rituals at the river of Okeanos as instructed by Circe. Once this ritual was completed, the dead promptly appeared and began gathering around him. This ritual had to be completed before Odysseus was able to speak with the dead. Odysseus had to allow the dead to drink the blood of sacrificed animals in order to communicate with him. Odysseus went to Hades to speak with Teiresias who was one of the dead. Like the Romans, Teiresias was the only one who could tell Odysseus how to continue his journey home. He also warned him of trials and tribulations that he would face on his way home. This is similar to that of the Egyptians when their ancestor’s spirits would come to them and give them predictions and advice for their continued lives while on earth.
Although the Roman and Greek underworlds were similar they were still different in the way they viewed the dead. Dis actually divided the good and bad into fields so they could be distinguished. Hades was an underworld for the dead like Dis, however, Hades did not have separate sections for the good and bad. There were no distinctions in Hades among the good and bad, one was able to speak to any of the dead as long as they were allowed to drink the blood of the sacrificed animals. The Romans believed that in the afterlife the dead were judged by their goodness or badness of their lives on earth. The Greeks didn’t believe in giving the dead special rewards for good behavior. Those who displeased the Gods during their life on earth were punished in their after life. The Egyptians on the other hand, were not able to speak to the dead in a physical form as though they still lived as humans. They thought of their place after death as a happy place, where the dead just continued their lives even in a physical sense. They believed the dead lived amongst their riches and materialistic goods as they did on earth. Therefore, there was no such thing as good and bad places for the dead, just one common place where everyone was seen as the same (unless one was a King or higher being).
All these aspects of life after death amongst the Romans, Greeks and Egyptians are similar, in which their societies play an important role in their beliefs and how they are carried out. Constant fighting and war surrounded all three of these cultures. The Gods played a major role in these societies as well. The Gods felt the hospitality of the mortals were seen as good deeds. Therefore, the gods favored these people. This is important because, the way people are viewed and judged on earth determines their destiny in the after life. The Gods had the ultimate control over the mortals and their lives. They believed fate was important and whatever happened to the mortals on earth was their own fault. Although, the gods did use divine intervention to help the mortals during their trials and tribulations while on earth.
The aspect of life after death is a common belief amongst the Romans, Greeks and Egyptians. Although some of their beliefs are similar and some are different they all share the common belief of life after death. It doesn’t matter whether the relationship between the humans on earth and the dead in their underworlds are communicated through physical beings or through souls and spirits, they are still communicating with the dead. Even though each underworld is unique in its own way, they all share the same purpose and that’s to house the dead, both good and bad. The Egyptians, Romans and Greeks believe there is no end to life when one dies, but yet an interruption and continued existence in another place.