Realm of the underworld

Subject: History
Type: Descriptive Essay
Pages: 4
Word count: 1062
Topics: Ancient EgyptAncient GreeceAncient Rome
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According to the Greek and the ancient Egyptians, they had various perceptions when it came to the afterlife and death occurring to their people. The different perceptions each society had concerning the underworld was spearheaded by the general believes they had on their Gods. Both the Egyptians and the Greek had a common perception when it came to issues of the world. They believed that the underworlds and the afterlife’s had their own rulers. This research will be aimed towards studying the various underworlds of the Greek and the Egyptians in terms of how they look like, how people are able to get there and the various rulers of the two underworlds.

How the underworlds look like

According to the Greek, the afterlife they possess was named as Hades and it was seen as a grey world whereby the lord of the dead usually lived. The grey look of the underworld according to the Greek was brought about by the misty realms of the underworld. In the mist, there were different planes of existence whereby the dead could be able to exist. The underworld according to the Greek varied according to the people and the life’s they lived on earth afterlife (Wheatcroft 74). If a person had some good life while still alive, and he was sociable and remembered by the living, then he was entitled to enjoy the sunny pleasures of Elysium. This suited their lives in the afterlife. If a person was wicked in the way he operated things on earth, they were thrown into a dark pit of Tartarus where they would spend their eternity in that pit. If the people were forgotten, they were entrusted to wander for eternity in the lands of Hades. This depicts that the underworld of the Greek usually varied. Therefore, it was the responsibility of the living to choose the kind of life they wanted to live in the underworld through their deeds on earth.

According to the Egyptians, their afterlife was different as compared to that of the Greek. This is because their afterlife was portrayed by an eternity in a field of reeds or rushes. This underworld according to the Egyptians was a true image of the life they once had on earth consisting of the blue skies, boats used for traveling activities, and rivers (Venit 23). According to the Egyptians, the underworld they believed in has various gods and goddesses why they worshiped during that period of time and they had fields of crops for planting and harvesting their crops. The dead people were given some land in the underworld and they were expected to maintain the land through constant labor.

Getting into the afterlife

In the journey to the afterlife according to the Egyptians, there was a process which the people had to pass in order to make the gods to contend with them. Before reaching Osiris, the people had to pass some of the strangest creatures on the way to the underworld and there are gatekeepers in that area before reaching the underworld. After passing that process, one would be able to reach Osiris and also face the final judgment.  In the final judgment, the people were given a chance in order to plead themselves in their way to the afterlife. The first part of the final judgment according to the Egyptians was inclusive of standing before 42 judges in order to give the people a chance to prove their innocence according to the wrong doings they have done in their lifetime (Venit 45). There was a book of the dead which would be useful in providing words to use with each judge before they pass the final judgment. The other part of reaching the afterlife according to the Egyptians consisted of weighing the heart. The feather of goddess Ma ’at was used as the proper measure of the heart because it contains aspects of truth and justice to the people. If the heart was found to be heavier as compared to the feather, then it was cast in eternal darkness. If the scales were balanced, then the person would be taken in by Osiris and then welcomed into the afterlife.

According to the Greek culture, the life after death was different as compared to the Egyptian one because the dead were prepared earlier before they arrived in the underworld. Their bodies had to be destroyed first in the mighty blazing fire and that made it easy for the spirits of the dead to be able to fly directly into the underworld afterlife (Wheatcroft 57). There was a gatekeeper who was entrusted with the duty of keeping the underworld safe and passing judgment upon the dead people in the society.

Rulers of the underworld

The rulers of the underworld in the Greek and the Egyptians cultures were different and they played similar roles in passing judgment among the dead before they reached their final destinations. In the Egyptian culture, their underworld god was named Osiris. He was the superior judge of the underworld entrusted with the duties of passing judgment. He was regarded as the god of vegetation and he was associated with issues regarding death, resurrection as well as the fertility of the people on earth (Venit 67). Most of the ancient Egyptians believed him to be one of the dead kings who were powerful and he was returned back to life after he was murdered by his brother Seth. This made him be a symbol of eternal life for the Egyptians.

According to the Greek, they had a ruler of their underworld and he was referred to as Hades. He was the final judge and he made decisions of taking people to the good afterlife or bad afterlife (Wheatcroft 15). This made him the ultimate ruler of the underworld. It is also important noting that Hades was also named as the god of riches or wealth since with him came alongside hidden treasures, soil fertility, silver, gold, metal and other mined minerals. He was respected by his subjects and all followed his rules with fear of great punishment.

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  1. Venit, Marjorie Susan. Visualizing the afterlife in the tombs of Graeco-Roman Egypt. Cambridge University Press, 2015.
  2. Wheatcroft, Alexandra. “On the Topography of the Greek Underworld and the ‘Orphic’Gold Tablets.” Prandium: The Journal of Historical Studies at U of T Mississauga 3.1 (2014).
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