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Death in Ancient Greek and Roman Cultures

Research papers on death in ancient Greek and Roman cultures discuss many of the interesting and traditional aspects of the death and burial ritual. Paper Masters will custom write your paper on these cultures, any other culture or any aspect of death that you need written about.

In both the ancient Greek and Roman cultures, the dead were provided for in the following traditions:

  1. With fare for the ferry passage across the mythical river Styx.
  2. Small sweets and delicacies were provided so that the dead person could soothe and placate the three-headed guard dog that watched over the entrance to Hades.  
Death in Ancient Greek and Roman Cultures

Funerals in Greece and Rome

The importance of funeral practices in the ancient world is also revealed by the fear of dead bodies that had not been properly buried. This is a recurring theme in the ancient texts of the Mesopotamians, Greeks, and Romans, as well as a number of other ancient cultures.  In many ancient cultures, ensuring that dead bodies were treated with the proper respect and afforded the appropriate burial rituals was a primary preoccupation. Conversely, when bodies were deliberately left unburied, as was often done with soldiers killed in battle, this was perceived as an ultimate sign of disrespect, as it hindered the spirits of the dead from crossing over into eternity. 

Throughout history, there have been only a small number of religious belief systems in which death is figured as a positive event In Christian doctrine, believers are taught not to fear death, and even to welcome it, as it represents the necessary passage to eternity. However, this conviction is unusual in broader context of history, wherein most belief systems viewed death as the punitive act of vengeful, bloodthirsty deities.  In addition, many ancient cultures did not view the afterlife as an idyllic place. For example, although Hebrews and Mesopotamians believed in an afterlife, it was not necessarily a place of happiness for the entering spirit.

Religion and Death

Another important aspect of ancient funerary practices was an outgrowth of a belief shared by many early religions, namely, that the physical body would be restored at some future date by divine action. Indeed, the effects of this belief can still be observed in Western nations with a Christian religious tradition, as some forms of disposition, such as cremation, are regarded as taboo because they will render physical reconstitution difficult or impossible . Far more elaborate were the intricate mummification rites of the ancient Egyptians, who believed that the body and organs must be carefully preserved in order for them to be of use when resurrection transpired.

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