The Christian Hell and the Greek Underworld

2265 Words Jan 6th, 2007 10 Pages
Since ancient civilizations people have been trying to explain what goes on after death. Throughout history, many cultures have had different theories about what happens. Two distinguished ideas of where people go after death are the underworld and Hell. The idea of the underworld came from the Greeks and Romans. A few famous works by the Greeks and Romans that talk about the underworld are The Iliad, The Aeneid, and, The Odyssey. A famous work that discusses Hell is Dante's Inferno. Hell is an accepted part of the Christianity religion and taught all over the world. The two beliefs are very similar but some distinct differences can be seen.

The idea of the Christian Hell has evolved from older beliefs. Originally Jews believed all dead
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(Catholic Encyclopedia)

In ancient Greek beliefs people were also judged when they were down in the underworld. At the dividing road between Tartarus, a place of torture in the underworld and the Isles of the Blest, a place for the good in the underworld, there are the Plains of Judgment. Awaiting the souls in the Plain of Judgment are Aeacus, Minos, and Rhadamanthys. These dead men, judge who goes to Tartarus, who goes to the Isles of the Blest or back to the Asphodel Fields if they were neither good or evil. These men were all sons of Zeus who were rewarded as judges in the underworld by creating the first just laws on Earth. Aeacus was king of Aegina during mortal life and was also known for making decisions for Zeus. After his death he became keeper of the keys of Hades and the judge of men of Europe in the Underworld. Minos was the King of Crete, and Rhadamanthys was his brother. They both lived in Asia during their mortal lives. After his death, Rhadamanthys became lord of the Isles of the Blest, and judge of the men of Asia. After Minos died he gained the responsibility of having the final judgment. In The Odyssey, Odysseus says " And now there came before my eyes Minos, the son of Zeus, enthroned, holding a golden staff, dealing out justice among ghostly pleaders arrayed about the broad doorways of Death.". (XI. 640) The Greeks believed Minos had a lot of power in the underworld. In Roman beliefs Rhadamanthus had control over the punishments people