Burial Rites and their Function

Burial Rites and their Function - Burial Rites and their...

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Burial Rites and their Function Homeric belief shows that the Greeks saw death as a time when the psyche left the body to enter Hades. In the Odyssey , Homer describes the Underworld, deep beneath the earth where Hades, the brother of Zeus and Poseidon, and his wife Persephone, reigned over countless shadowy figures. The ghost of the great hero Achilles told Odysseus that he would rather be a poor serf on earth than the lord of all the dead in the Underworld ( Odyssey , Book 11, lines 489-491). Regardless of whether the bodies of fallen kin were buried or cremated, it was crucial to place a coin in the mouth of the body. This was done because it was believed that Charon, the ferryman who carried the souls of the deceased over the rive Styx and into Hades, required payment for his services. Those who refused or unable to pay became stranded on the shores of the river. Many would go back to haunt their families who treated them so inconsiderably after death. The same fate was said to fall on the families of those lost at sea. Demanding proper burial was one of the major reasons why ghosts would approach the living people of Greece. In the Odyssey, Odysseus communicates with the dead by sacrificing a sheep. His war-friend, Elpenor approaches Odysseus to ask for a proper burial. Odysseus and his men had left Elpenor’s body of the island of Kirke, unmourned and unburied. The dead sailor warns that if he is not given burial rites he will “become a curse” on Odysseus. He ask for his corpse and weapons to be burned, and a mound to mark where they are buried ( Odyssey , Book 11, lines 71-18). Burial rites were very important to the ancient Greeks.
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The psyche or soul could be seen but was untouchable. It was believed to leave the body as small puff of wind at the moment of death. The soul was responsible for a person’s personality and moral decisions, and thus whether the person received eternal punishment or bliss for the choices made during human form. The burial rites were carried out with the belief that the soul needed to be guided into the afterlife. In the Iliad, Patroclus sees Achilles delay in his burial as an insult to his human dignity. The ancient Greeks believed that at the moment of death, the person acquired a higher
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Burial Rites and their Function - Burial Rites and their...

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