Aspects of Death and the Afterlife in Greek Literature

BookAspects of Death and the Afterlife in Greek Literature

Aspects of Death and the Afterlife in Greek Literature


June 10th, 2021

Access Token


Other Formats



The concept of the afterlife has always been prominent in both Greek literature and modern scholarship alike. The fate of man after his/her allotted time has come to an end has a central position in poetry, philosophy and religion, often leading to questions and answers as to how one can best live one’s life, and how can one deal with the burden of mortality that is inherent in every human being. The Greeks devoted a considerable amount of their literary production in an attempt to answer these questions through a variety of different media, whereas similar concerns appear to have been at the core of the ancient world in general. This volume represents the first to examine the influences, intersections, and developments of understandings of death and the afterlife between poetic, religious, and philosophical traditions in ancient Greece in one resource. Greek thinking on death and the afterlife was neither uniform, simple, nor static, and by offering an examination of these matters in a properly interdisciplinary context this collection of papers aims to demonstrate the full richness, complexity, and flexibility of these ideas in the ancient Greek world, and illuminate how freely writers from various genres drew inspiration from each other’s thinking concerning eschatological matters.
Contributors: Alberto Benarbé; Rick Benitez; Nicolo Benzi; Chiara Blanco; Radcliffe Edmonds; George Alexander Gazis; Anthony Hooper; Vaios Liapis; Alex Long; Ioannis Ziogas.

'The overarching theme of the volume is the great variety, malleability, conflation, and manipulation of the traditional views of the afterlife. This is an important point, and the essays collectively make it. They are, to echo the title of Edmonds’ opening essay, “good to think with."'
Michael Halleran, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Author Information

George Alexander Gazis is an Assistant Professor in Greek Literature at the Department of Classics and Ancient History, Durham University. He is the author of Homer and the poetics of Hades (OUP 2018). Anthony Hooper is Lecturer at the School of Liberal Arts, University of Wollongong, Australia. His research focuses particularly on intersections between Greek philosophy, poetry, and religion.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
A Path Neither Simple Nor Single17
The Afterlife as Good to Think With17
The Somatics of the Greek Dead39
Life and Death of the Greek Heroine in Odyssey 11 and the Hesiodic Catalogue of Women55
What is your Lot?75
Lyric Pessimism and Pindar’s Afterlife75
In Quest for Authority95
Parmenides and the Tradition of Katabasis Narratives95
Death as Dehumanisation in Sophocles’ Philoctetes111
Socrates’ Conception of the Underworld129
Judges in Hades from Homer to Plato141
Renovating the House of Hades159
Cult Extensions and Socratic Reconstructions159
Stoic Agnosticisms about Death177
Index Locorum209
General Index213