sábado, 19 de diciembre de 2009

Ancient Greeks Vs today beliefs on death and burial

Reading about the beliefs of the Ancient Greeks on death and burial, I realized that our ways of dealing with death and burial today are very similar to that of the Ancient Greeks back then. Their ways of doing things pretty much set a standard and a foundation for all future cultures and generations. Some of the differences, however, are those of the beliefs on death and burial, because we deal with death and burial in a very similar way, yet our beliefs are quite different.
According to Homeric belief, when a person died, their psyche would enter the palace of Hades. By classical times various secret mystery cults began to promise their initiates a state of blessedness after death. At this time they believed that a just person should gain immortality and perhaps even eternal bliss. Their concern about what happened after death gave rise to a rich assortment of burial rituals and other practices.
For the Ancient Greeks, feasts were the main way of honoring the dead. This practice, although not very common in North America, is largely practiced in Central and South America. When it came to burial, bodies were cremated or buried intact. The Ancient Greeks also started the tradition of using single graves. At the time of burial, food and drinks were placed in the tomb along with other gifts – usually personal possessions of the buried. In many cases the banquet was accompanied by animal sacrifice.
The Ancient Greeks buried dead people with some of their possessions and marked graves with carved gravestones. The graveyards were place outside the walls of a city, for two reasons: First, to keep wandering spirits away from the living and Second, because beggars and criminals often lurked there.
When someone was buried, their body was carried outside the city, followed by friends and relatives. (Yet another tradition that is still evident today, especially in Central and South America.) When the procession reached the burial place, the body might be buried, or it could be burnt, and the ashes buried.
Graves were important to the Ancient Greeks. At some religious festivals, they gathered at the tombs of relatives and made offerings of food, wine and oil to the dead. In early Greek History, graves were marked leaving a large decorated pot on the grave. Eventually they started to mark these graves with gravestones, called stelai. These were usually decorated with pictures; others had an inscription which said who was buried there, who their family was, and sometimes where they came from and how old they were.
Bodies were cremated or buried intact… both were common practices of the Ancient Greeks. If the body was burnt, the ashes were collected and put into a jar or a container of marble; these were usually decorated with carving – sometimes of myths and legends. When the ashes were placed into a jar they were then buried. Yet, if the ashes were placed into a marble container, then it was common for family or friends to keep this container (with the ashes). Bodies that weren’t burned could be placed into coffins, these, however, were very expensive to make; therefore they were only used by rich people.
As you can see the Ancient Greeks were very concerned with death and burial. They placed a lot of emphasis on the matters of life and death… leading to all these beliefs, rituals and traditions. As I said before, it is very obvious that the Ancient Greeks created a foundation, on death and burial, which is still evident today.

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