Greek Mythology and Roman Catholocism: Afterlife Edition

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Information about Greek Mythology and Roman Catholocism: Afterlife Edition

Published on February 17, 2014

Author: cbeshke



Student created example of a digital book project. This book compares views of the afterlife in Greek mythology and Catholicism.

Greek Mythology & Roman Catholicism: Afterlife Edition

Catholicism and Greek Mythology are quite different from each other. Even so, they have some similarities in their beliefs on the afterlife. Like Catholicism, Greek Mythology believes there are three places souls may end up. Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell in Catholicism, and Elysium, The Asphodel fields, and Tartarus in Greek Mythology. Each of these places have their similarities and differences within each religion. One key difference between Catholicism and Greek Mythology, is the belief in an underworld. In Greek Mythology, the Underworld is Hades’ realm. Every souls goes to the Underworld after death. There is a three headed dog, Cerberus guarding the entrance and a ferryman, Charon, who takes the dead across the River Styx (the barrier between the mortal world and the Underworld). Hades rules this land, and has different Gods, Goddesses, and creatures among him. There are three, once mortal, judges that decide a soul’s eternal resting place in the Underworld. Both religions have specific views on the afterlife, but this will focus on the three places each religion believes souls may rest after death. *The following views of the afterlife are from different resources, but none are the official doctrines of either religion.

Many people are familiar with Heaven. This is the place where the righteous people go after they die. In Catholic teaching, they are united with the one true God for eternity. The person’s Faith on Earth is fulfilled. If people live according to what Jesus did on earth, they will be rewarded with life in heaven. Catholics strive for this, and must do works on Earth to show their Faith and to act as penance for their sin. There is no teaching about what heaven looks like. People simply do not know. This is only part of the mystery of the afterlife in the Catholic faith. Heaven is the place for the righteousness, the people pure and clean of heart, who are able to see God.

In many religions, there are places for the just after they die. Similar to Heaven for Catholics, in Greek Mythology, Elysium is for the those who do good in their lives. This is a beautiful area of the Underworld for the good. Originally it was just for immortal gods and heroes. Then it was known as the resting place for the blessed people who had died. It is a place of eternal paradise for all who had a righteous life. Also part of Elysium, the Isle of the Blessed, is for the Catholic ―Saint‖ equivalents who have gone above and beyond to be great people on Earth.

*Penance: (ˈpnəns) ɛ In the Catholic faith, Purgatory is basically the step before Heaven. Some people may think it’s a place for the people who weren’t good, but weren't bad. It’s similar to that, but not exactly. People are judged and sent to Purgatory to be cleansed of sin. They must suffer the effects sin left them with before they died. Heaven is a place for the perfect, so they must be cleansed of all sin before Heaven. Once in Purgatory, the souls are helpless. They cannot repent or do *penance for their sin. They rely on the prayers of those on Earth to help them reach Heaven. All souls in Purgatory are guaranteed Heaven, but no on knows how long someone may be suffering to get to paradise. —n 1. voluntary self-punishment to atone for a sin, crime, etc 2. a. feeling of regret for one's wrongdoings 3. Christianity: a. a punishment usually consisting of prayer, fasting, etc, undertake n voluntarily as an expression of penitence for sin b. a punishment of this kind imposed by church authority as a condition of absolution Penances in Catholicism are done after Reconciliation as acts to make up for sin. This cannot be done in Purgatory, so the Church teaches that everyone should always be ready.

The asphodel Fields in Greek Mythology are actually quite different than Purgatory. In the Asphodel Fields, souls wander aimlessly for all eternity, as opposed to it being a temporary resting place for purification like Purgatory. This place is for the souls who did not do good or bad in their lives. It is a grey existence, and some depict it as a grey field. Life here isn’t great, nor is it painful, but it is slightly worse than Earth. In the novel, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan compares The Asphodel Fields to a silenced crowd. ―A football field packed with a million fans. Now imagine a field a million times that big, packed with people and imagine the electricity has gone out, and there is no noise, no light, no beach ball bouncing around over the crowd. Whispering masses of people waiting for a concert that will never start.‖

*Lucifer In Catholicism, Hell is the worst possible place. After defying God, and falling into disgrace, *Lucifer was cast out of Heaven and into Hell. The devil resides in Hell and prowls about the Earth tempting people to sin. When people fall for his evil and sin on Earth, but do not repent, they may go to Hell. If their sins are severe and they have no intention of union with God, they will spend eternity in punishment here. These people are forever separated and unable to see God. The Catholic Bible depicts Hell as an inferno, the fiery realm of the devil. Isaiah 14:12 ―How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations!" Revelation 12:7 "Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back.‖

Tartarus, in Greek Mythology, is fairly similar to Hell. Tartarus is the place where the wicked go after they die. Those who do bad, and were terrible people will end up here. Some describe it as a giant pit, taking days to travel down. Originally, Tartarus was only the place where the evil *Titans are locked away. Later it came to be known as a tortuous place for all evil souls. Here, the worst of villains can be made to undergo challenges, pain, and suffering based on the severity of their The Titans were primordial being and the ancestors of the Gods. One infamous Titan, Kronos or Cronus, was the father of Hades, Zeus, and Poseidon. The Titans were evil, and knowing the power of his children, Kronos ingested them. The Gods made their way back out and raged war on the Titans, defeating them. They were then cast into Tartarus where they were locked up.

-Gil, N.S.10 Gods and Goddesses of The Underworld: Main Greek Gods and Goddesses of the underworld. 2012. Web. 8 Nov. 2012. - Elysium - Asphodel Fields - Tartarus -Riordan, Rick. Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. New York. Disney – Hyperion Books, 2005. Print. - Description of The Asphodel Fields

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