Background • Like most ancient cultures, the ancient Greeks believed in an afterlife • They believed that their dead lived on in the Underworld • The Underworld is the land of the dead, the place where good is praised and the wicked are punished Charon on the Styx. Painting by Joachim Patenier, 1515-24.
Location • The Underworld physically located under the ground • The Underworld for the most part is vague, dark, and shadowy • There are 3 main parts to the underworld: • Elysian Fields—the place where the especially good and heroes went • Asphodel Fields—the place where ordinary people went • Tartarus—the deepest part of the Underworld where evil people went
The Rivers • There are 5 main Underworld rivers that separate the Underworld from the world above: • Acheron: the river of woe • Cocytus: the river of lamentation • Phlegethon: the river of fire • Styx: the river of unbreakable oath by which the gods swear (most important river) • Lethe: the river of forgetfulness
The King and Queen • Hades is the Lord of the Underworld (the Underworld is sometimes called Hades) • His wife is Persephone (Demeter’s daughter whom he kidnapped)
Who else lives in the Underworld? • Sleep and Death • Grief, Old Age, Diseases, Fear, Hunger, and Agony • Creatures that live there: Harpies Gorgons Centaurs
The Ferryman—Charon (ka-ron) • Charon is very important in the Underworld • He is a filthy, smelly, old boatman with eyes of fire, a bushy, unkempt beard, and a dirty cloak. • He takes the souls (shades) to the Underworld across the River Styx.
The Cerberus (sur-bur-us) • The Cerberus guards the gate to the Underworld to make sure that NO ONE escapes • He is a three-headed dog with fangs that dripped venom • He is usually nice to the shades entering the Underworld, but for those who tried to leave…
When a person died in ancient Greece, their family buried them with coins (obols) in their mouth. • Hermes then took their soul (or shade as the Greeks called them) to the River Styx
The Shade then used the coins they were buried with to pay Charon, the ferryman to take them across the River Styx, into the Underworld to be judged.
If you didn’t have any coins you couldn’t cross the river and were left to wander the banks of the River Styx for eternity…
The Journey Continues…The Judgment • Having crossed the River Styx, and passed by the Cerberus, the shades were taken to be judged. • Hades judged the past life of each shade to decide where they would spend eternity • If you were especially good or a hero you went to Elysian Fields • If you were an ordinary person you went to the Asphodel Fields • If you committed a crime (especially those committed) against the gods you went to Tartarus
The Good—Elysian • Elysian was a happy place • It is always sunny and warm with a little breeze and the seasons never change • Nothing changed in Elysian • Some mortals were allowed to pass their time in the Underworld as they had lived their lives in Earth • -Orion • -Heracles
The Bad—Tartarus • It is said that if you dropped an anvil from Earth it would fall for nine days and strike Tartarus on the tenth • Tartarus was cold, dark, and damp • It was cut off from the Underworld by the River Phlegethon (the river of fire) Tautarus surrounded by a triple wall to ensure that no one escaped
Famous Inmates of Tartaurs • The Titans who had warred against Zeus • Sisyphus • Ixion • Tantalus
Sisyphus (sis-ee-fus) Sisyphus, a mortal, was a friend to Zeus. However, Sisyphus was greedy and he stole his brother’s throne. Zeus has no choice but to punish him so he was sent to Hades to be judged and punished. When Death came to fetch him, Sisyphus tricked him into trying on his chains to show him how they worked and took him prisoner. This caused havoc because without Death, no one could die! Hades was furious. Ares intervened and rescued Death because Death was important to war and Ares liked to kill in war. Sisyphus was then taken to see Hades to be judged. When Sisyphus got to Hades he complained that his wife was neglected to put obols in his mouth and therefore he didn’t have a proper burial. He was able to persuade Hades into allowing him to go back to the earth and be buried properly. Of course, when he got there, he he refused to return. However, Hermes eventually carried him back to the Underworld. Hades would give Sisyphus something to complain about…
Sisyphus’ Punishment: • For tricking the gods he was sentenced to roll a huge rock up a hill . When it reached the top, the stone rolled back down and Sisyphus spent eternity rolling the stone up the hill.
Ixion (icks-ee-on) • Ixion killed his father-in-law by pushing him into a bed of burning coals and wood. He then lived as an outlaw and was shunned by the people of Greece. It is believed that Ixion was reckoned the first man guilty of killing a family member in Greek mythology—that alone would warrant him a terrible punishment. Zeus took pity on Ixion and brought him to Olympus and introduced him to the gods. Instead of being grateful, Ixion decided he wanted Hera, Zeus's wife, to be his and planned to kidnap her. Zeus found out about this plan and Zeus made a plan of his own. He made a cloud in the shape of Hera, which became known as Nephele, and tricked Ixion into taking it. When Ixion took the bate, Zeus blasted him out of Olympus with a thunderbolt and into the Underworld to be punished . What punishment could match this crime?
Ixion’s Punishment: • Zeus ordered Hermes to chain him to a burning wheel of fire that spun for eternity.
Tantalus (tan-ta-lus) • Tantalus was another mortal friend of Zeus. He was such a good friend that he was invited to dine with the gods of Mount Olympus. There he stole the sacrd nectar and ambrosia, that made the gods immortal, and brought this back to his people. By doing so he had confirmed the secrets of the gods. The gods were furious. To try to make up for his crime, he his son, Pelops, as a sacrifice to the gods. One story tells of how he boiled him, and served him up as food for the gods. The people of Greece were horrified because they thought that Tantalus was trying to trick the Olympian gods back into their older ways of offering them a sacrifice-banquet of human flesh. Zeus was extremely angry that he told the secrets of the gods to the mortals and tried to feed them his son so he sent him to Tartarus to be punished.
Tantalus’ Punishment: • Tantalus' punishment, was to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches. Whenever he reached for the fruit, the branches raised the fruit away from his reach. Whenever he bent down to get a drink, the water moved away before he could get any. So he was tormented by hunger and thirst for eternity.
The Underworld Good bye