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Death

Aspects of Death in Early Greek Art and Poetry by Emily Vermeule

By Emily Vermeule

The traditional Greeks committed a good portion in their poetic and inventive strength to exploring issues of demise. Vermeule examines the proof and fictions of Greek dying, together with burial and mourning, visions of the underworld, souls and ghosts, the worth of heroic dying in conflict, the search for immortality, the associated powers of loss of life, sleep, and love, and extra.

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Extra resources for Aspects of Death in Early Greek Art and Poetry

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C. FICL 2 PJastercd head with shell eyes: Jericho, c. c. Copynghted fTlatenal F10. o. Copyngilted rJai nal D EATH IN T HE BRONZE AGE 45 Mycenaean gold masks are only elaborations of this old effort to preserve individual features in memory; classical eye ba nds stamped with open. I. • Wherever earth-buria l was even a sporadic custom, it was common p ractice to spread stones over the body in a light screen, to keep animals otT (fig. 3). A stone was often placed near the head, sometimes as a pillow, sometimes in the mout h; 3 stone became closely associated with the de-ad for its durable and protective q ualities.

Copynghted fTlatenal 22 CREATURES OF THE DAY Within the long tradition of funeral painting, there is titUe of the mythical and fantastic. Early grave epigrams are almost equally innocent of references to supernatural imagery. Hades is the familiar core of ideas of the afterlife, but the elaborations around it, or him, are not so much wanted as the facts about the dead man, his parentage and place, his good qualities, like a permanent goos excerpted on stone. res of real experience and of mythical imagery did intersect, and these linkages were intensified with the progress of classical feeling, perhaps roughly from the time of Simonidcs to the time of Euripides.

The internal sunshine of '"-it might conceivably rescue a man from darkness under proper circumstances .. TO. 2) or to waken the sl«ping mind, was not accidentally made the wittiest of the Hellenic gods. · home along a new path or in releasing the dead souls out to the light again (fig. •• Wit is internal mortal light controlled and supported by extemal immortal light; while in many ordinary people this light survives only feebly in the dark underground and must be sparked with injections of blood or other vital juices before lt brightens enough to speak again, there are exceptional heroes whose wit is not so extinguished in death.

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