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Σχετικά με τον άλλο κόσμο
About the Under World.
The Underworld was the place that mortals passed onto after they had passed away, but it was very much a place for the living as well. The Greek poets were not specific in describing it. Homer considered the Underworld a place of shadows. Nothing there was completely real. The existence that a spirit endured there was one of a bad dream.
Later on, the Latin poets such as Virgil described the Underworld as a place where the wicked were punished and the good rewarded in the life after death. Virgil also assigned a geographic area to the Underworld. The path to the Underworld led to the river Acheron, as it poured into the river Cocytus.
The mortals who passed, both good and bad, went onto the Underworld. Once there, the spirits awaited judgment. Their fate depended on their bravery and justice in life. Those who had offended the gods might anticipate suffering, but a person's goodness was rewarded with an afterlife of happiness.
Unlike a Judeo-Christian concept of the afterlife, time passed in the Underworld, and the dead and living could communicate. Rules there were made, it seemed, to be broken. Many myths were set in the Underworld: the living tried to rescue the dead from their fate, or the gods sent the living there to retrieve an object. From these myths we can learn the layout of the Underworld as well as its rulers and guardians.
Cerberus was the three-headed dog with a dragon's tail that guarded the Underworld. While he allowed spirits to enter, he did not allow any to leave. It is generally thought that Cerberus was born to Echidne, a half-woman, half-serpent, and Typhon, the most fierce of all creatures. Among the siblings of Cerberus were the Hydra, the Chimera, Orphus, and others. Cerberus' main haunt in the Underworld was on the banks of the river Styx, where he had the task of eating any mortals who attempted to enter and any spirits who attempted to escape.
Cerberus is best known for playing a part in Hercules' final labor. Hercules had to go to the Underworld and bring Cerberus back to the surface of the earth. Hercules had to do this without using arrows or his club. Hercules grabbed Cerberus by the throat and dragged him to Mycenae through a crack in the surface of the earth. having accomplished this, Hercules dispatched Cerberus to guard one of the secret groves of Demeter.
The Elysian Fields, or Elysium, would be closest to what most people consider "heaven" to be like. The Elysian Fields were described as a wonderful place, where everything was delightful. There were soft green meadows, lovely groves, a delicious life-giving air, sunlight that glowed a soft purple, and everyone was happy and peaceful. The sound of music played on pipes and lyres filled the air. Banquets occurred whenever the inhabitants desired.
This land was ruled by Rhadamanthys, according to Homer's Odyssey, and lay somewhere near the river Oceanus. It was a place where the great and good lived after their deaths, men such as heroes, poets, priests, and those who had helped others; a dwelling place of mortals made immortal through the favor of the gods. These fortunate ones could chose to go back to earth if they wished, but few elected to give up the pleasure they had found here.
The Titan Cronus, father of Zeus, lived in the Elysian Fields. Despite the cruelty of Cronus in his life, his status as one of the early gods guaranteed his privileged place in the Underworld. He behaved well there and did not disturb the others.
The Furies, or Erinyes in Greek, have an origin that is not completely known; they were born, it was said, from drops of blood that fell from Uranus after he was castrated by his son Cronus. It is also thought that they were the daughters of Mother Earth and Darkness, or of Cronus and Eurynome, or Cronus and Night. At first, the task of the Furies was to guard the entrance to Tartarus, to make certain that those who entered had atoned for their sins. Those who had not were not allowed in and had to wander as ghosts. They became better known for their responsibility as punishers of those who offended the Olympians, patricides, and perjurers. Over time they had to deal with rude children, bad parents, and inhospitable hosts.
The Furies were hideous in appearance. They wore black robes, had wings, snakes for hair, and the heads of dogs. Their number is in dispute. There may have been only three, named Alecto, Tisiphone, and Magaera; or, there may have been several of them, with these three being the leaders. Strangely, despite their very negative interactions with humans, they were called Eumenides, or "kindly ones." They judged the truth of complaints made by mortals against each other. If they found the complaints to be true the would send the Keres to retreave the mortal.
Three judges sat in judgment on those who entered the Underworld. Their names were Rhadamanthus, Minos, and Aeacus.
Rhadamanthus and Minos were brothers, the sons of Zeus and Europa. Zeus, disguised as a beautiful bull, had abducted Europa across the sea to Crete (read about their love myth 'Zeus and Europa' in "Fables."). Rhadamantus and Minos, with their brother Sarpedon, were adopted by Europa's husband Asterius, king of Crete, to whom she had borne a daughter named Crete. Asterius, having no sons of his own, adopted the three boys. When he died, his kingdom was divided into thirds. Rhadamanthus was considered wise and just, and Minos was considered to be vengeful. He was the unfortunate whose wife fell in love with a bull sent by Poseidon; the resulting child was the Minotaur, which Minos kept in a labyrinth.
Aeacus was the son of Zeus and Aegina, and he was a great leader and general. He was also a rival of his step-brother Minos.
When the three died, because of their great wisdom and worthy lives they were assigned to judge the newly dead as they entered. Rhadamanthus was assigned the task of judging Asiatics. Minos judged the most difficult cases.
More to come
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