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The untimely dead and the improperly buried suffer more than do common shades, and notorious sinners such as Tantalus and Sisyphus are tormented for their crimes; nonetheless, the Homeric Hades is, generally speaking, indifferently unpleasant for all.In the late Archaic period, however, Greek traditions began to envision a greater divergence of paths in the afterlife.
The underworld is often imagined as a place of punishment rather than merely of darkness and decomposition because of the widespread belief that a moral universe requires judgment and retribution—crime must not pay.
In the poem , she sets forth to visit Ereshkigal’s kingdom in splendid dress, only to be compelled, at each of the seven gates, to shed a piece of her regalia.
Finally, Inanna falls naked and powerless before Ereshkigal, who hangs her up like so much meat upon a drying hook.
Drought descends upon the earth as a result, but the gods help revive Inanna, who escapes by offering her husband as a replacement.
This ransom secures the fecundity of the earth and the integrity of the grain stores by reinforcing the boundary between hell and earth.
The Orphic movement (so called for its association with the hero Orpheus, who ventured into Hades and returned to earth) spun vivid accounts of judgment, retribution, and metempsychosis.
Adherents were taught that life on the “sorrowful, weary wheel” of recurring birth and death itself was a kind of hell.
It is the better part of wisdom, the tradition suggests, for mortals to make the most of earthly life before they are carried off into death’s long exile.
The tombs, pyramids, and necropolises of ancient Egypt attest to an extraordinary concern for the state of the dead, who, in sharp contrast to Mesopotamian belief, are described as living on in a multiplicity of forms and locations suitable to their rank and worth—in or near the grave, in the desert regions of the west, in the fertile fields of Earu, in the heavens with the midday sun and circumpolar stars, or under the earth, where the sun travels by night.
Those who succeeded won immortality by identification with Osiris or with the sun.
Those who failed were devoured by a crocodile-headed monster, tormented by demons, or worse; yet rarely is there the suggestion of eternal condemnation.
The mysteries of Demeter at Eleusis, among other esoteric cults, claimed that adherents would enjoy a heavenly immortality, while those outside the cult would sink into the gloom of Hades.