How does the Ancient Greek beliefs of religion and death differ with the view of other cultural groups? Death, the way it is represented in Homer’s book, The Odyssey, is always caused by human error. Whether their death was caused by greed, selfishness, or just being curious, many people died in The Odyssey. Still, the question of what happens after we die remains. Many religions have different beliefs of religious ideas from the Ancient Greeks. Afterlife, is a belief where the comparisons among religions become extremely close. The Greek beliefs of gods and death are different from the modern day beliefs of other religions such as Judaism and Ancient Egyptian beliefs.
For example, The Odyssey begins with a scene containing a conversation among the gods. The goddess Athena, goddess of war and wisdom, is discussing the matter of Odysseus with Zeus, the head god and god of sky (Homer 10). Of course these are not the only Greek gods and goddesses. Other examples of Greek gods and goddesses are Apollo, god of music, poetry, medicine, archery, and young unmarried men and Hestes, goddess of the home. As you can see, the Greeks believed in many gods unlike the people of the Jewish fate who believed in one god. The Jewish god does not have an emblem that which it is represented by. The belief is that the god is represented by everything. For example, members of the Jewish religion believe god is everywhere, in everything, and represented by everything they do. Another example of the religious differences is how Ancient Egyptians believed in idol gods which are gods represented in statues. Ancient Greek beliefs are different from those of other societies because of differences between how gods are represented in Judaism and Ancient Egyptian beliefs.
Equally important are the Ancient Greek views of death. Death caused by human error is widespread throughout the book. Human error is encountered in each one of Odysseus’s adventures on his return home. The Kyklopes represented the greediness, selfishness, and uncilvilization of Odysseus’s men. Odysseus fell asleep and his men unleashed a bag of bad winds, throwing them off path (Homer 315). Skylla and Kharybdis was a representation of death from nature when Odysseus’s men stopped rowing and six of the men were killed. The Seirenes, with their beautiful singing voices represent suicide death. Hades, probably the most down to Earth adventure, represents time and fate. Many religions use time and fate as representations of why people die. Ancient Egyptians believed that when a person died, they were hand picked by god and therefore sacrificed. Modern day occurrences make this seem more and more untrue. Time and fate do not demonstrate the reasons of death. For example, the act of random violence is becoming more of a regular practice of unjustified death, unlike the Ancient Greek ways which always had a reason for death. Therefore, this is another difference between Ancient Greek beliefs and current religions and beliefs.
Next, what happens after death is a question that is yet to be answered. The people of Ancient Greece believe of the Underworld. Hades is the god of the Underworld and has a special throne and place on the council chamber. It is believed that Hades leads those through the Underworld and will guide them to their designated place (Evslin 276). It is believed that each of the ways that a person could be guided is similar to the Christian beliefs of heaven and hell and the beliefs of the Ancient Egyptians of weighing the soul for good and bad karma (McDonald 356). The Jewish religion believes that the destined messiah will appear in Israel. This is why many people wish to be buried in Israel, the holy land of the Jewish people. It is believed the messiah will guide the Jewish people through the afterlife and the closer you are buried to the messiah, the closer you are “to the front of the line.” The Jewish religion teaches that when the messiah appears, it will guide the souls to a heaven like or hell like surroundings to live forever (Yedwab).
Finally, it is obvious that religions and beliefs differ, but still the overall belief that souls determine their afterlife is apparent through many religions. Each of the religions discussed have their own individual beliefs of other topics such as religious scrolls and ways of teaching. In Judaism, believing in more that one god would be considered unholy. Also, in Judaism, separating the body to remove organs is considered wrong. In Ancient Egyptian beliefs, all vital organs of the body were removed when the person was buried and placed in jars and buried with them. In Ancient Greek beliefs, the body was kept intact. In The Odyssey, it began with with a conversation among the gods, but are the gods real? Was this just an excuse to have reasons why occurrences happen and to explain ideas to people? Is that true for all religions?