Depictions of the Afterlife

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The afterlife as a residence for souls after death has long been a topic of discussion and debate. This idea intrigues many. As Christians we believe that heaven is a place where believers go where life there will be a continuation of their present life, while hell is a place of judgment and punishment where many experience severe treatment. Direct experience is the only way individuals can experience these concepts, but once we obtain the experience it cannot be shared. This ultimately makes us want to know more leading many to visualize the afterlife. Starting with the earliest Greek Epics, such as The Iliad, society has imagined an Underworld, a place beneath the Earth where souls go once the body dies. Our thoughts and expectations about such an idea have changed over time; the idea of the Underworld continues in many Greek and Latin poems and it still used today (Spiegel). The best descriptions of the afterlife are found in Dante’s Divine Comedy. In his first book, The Inferno, Dante explores Hell, a place in which sinners dwell after they die. His account is mainly taken from Book VI of Virgil’s The Aeneid, which describes Aeneas’s journey into the Underworld to visit his father. These two works, written many years apart share similar ideas about life after death and it makes us consider the changes in society’s thoughts over these times. There are obvious differences found between these two stories and they correlate with the different beliefs society has about the
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