Pleading for Hell: Postulates, Fantasies, and the Senselessness of Punishment

Pleading for Hell: Postulates, Fantasies, and the Senselessness of Punishment If the ideal of justice includes effective punishment of offenders, an extension into afterlife must be postulated. This still involves all the questionable aspects and paradoxes of punishment that make rational and enlightened argumentation difficult. A historical survey of ancient tentatives at hell lore shows diverse starting points and interests. There is just a germ of such speculations in Sumerian. When hell fire first appears in Egypt, it goes together with the fear of magic from the dead; in Zoroastrianism and Judaism it is partisan interest which makes the adherents of the wrong religion destined for hell. In Greece we find various ethical and poetical motifs interfering, from the powerful yet enigmatic images in the Odyssey to a general proclamation of punishments in the Hymn to Demeter. The most graphic and horrible descriptions of something like hell are finally found in Plato, whose sources — besides Homer — can be postulated but not identified. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Numen Brill

Pleading for Hell: Postulates, Fantasies, and the Senselessness of Punishment

Numen, Volume 56 (2-3): 141 – Jan 1, 2009

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© 2009 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
0029-5973
eISSN
1568-5276
D.O.I.
10.1163/156852709X404955
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

If the ideal of justice includes effective punishment of offenders, an extension into afterlife must be postulated. This still involves all the questionable aspects and paradoxes of punishment that make rational and enlightened argumentation difficult. A historical survey of ancient tentatives at hell lore shows diverse starting points and interests. There is just a germ of such speculations in Sumerian. When hell fire first appears in Egypt, it goes together with the fear of magic from the dead; in Zoroastrianism and Judaism it is partisan interest which makes the adherents of the wrong religion destined for hell. In Greece we find various ethical and poetical motifs interfering, from the powerful yet enigmatic images in the Odyssey to a general proclamation of punishments in the Hymn to Demeter. The most graphic and horrible descriptions of something like hell are finally found in Plato, whose sources — besides Homer — can be postulated but not identified.

Journal

NumenBrill

Published: Jan 1, 2009

Keywords: NEKYIA; SUMERIAN HELL; PLATO'S MYTHS; SISYPHOS; PROBLEM OF PUNISHMENT

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