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Ancient Greeks

QUESTION: Did the ancient Greeks believe in after life?


Yes. For the ancient Greeks, their beliefs were based on a rather varied source of myths passed down from generations and adjusted according to individual preference, thus creating a diverse set of religious regulations and standards. One thing that seems to stay consistence within all groups of ancient Greeks, however, is that of life after death, a small variation of which makes them rather unique in their practice of paganism.

Contrary to other pagan groups, the ancient Greeks believed that souls of the deceased were not reincarnated into another bodily form and placed back on earth, but lived on in either hell or heaven as a spirit. Their after life destination was presumably based on how well they lived their life prior to their death.

The ancient Greeks, regardless of the nuances of the religious shifts, believed it was a necessity to live in such a way as to appease the gods and thus diligently sought to offer frequent sacrifices, prayers and hymns, living in constant awareness of the imminent anger of the gods.

Because the after life scenario was so contingent upon their earthly behavior, the ancient Greeks took special care to stay on good terms with the gods on a daily basis. The sacrifices and such were considered by the gods to be a sufficient means of restitution and so it was with both great care and serious intention that the ancient Greeks followed through with those actions.

More than this, those who passed on were carefully embalmed and placed safely into a tomb or cave with their personal possessions in an additional effort to make one last attempt to be acceptable and pleasing to the discerning minds who would send the souls to their prospective home.

The ancient Greeks believed that food, jewelry, clothing, chariots, weaponry and the like could be carried into the spirit world. In the after life, the individual/s would be able to use their precious belongings. Sometimes, the ancient Greeks would kill family members and close friends of the dead to make for a more enjoyable and comfortable after life. Though it is not definitely recorded, it might be legitimate to also assume that animals, such as horses to pull the chariots, were put to death and buried with the deceased.

After entering into either heaven or hell, the ancient Greeks believed that the souls entered a sort of limbo. Because they did not believe in reincarnation, the ancient Greeks had to create another option, one that included neither a totally human or totally spirit life for the souls. Though no sources completely fill in the gray area in this regard, it is easiest to assume that the souls were believed to be in a state of neutrality-they were not as "high" as the gods and goddesses in their capacities of power and at the same time were not a dead soul, one who could not be spiritually contacted or communicated with (spirit worship, etc.).

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