The ancient Greek had several beliefs related to the dead and dying, they had strong beliefs and rites which reflected the role of human soul, location and actions believed to have occurred after death and as a result they formulated strict rituals which were to be performed after a person died and their beliefs: which were interconnected with death played a fundamental role during the death rituals (Taylor 39-51). The funerals of the ancient Greek consisted of three acts which were observed to the minute detail. These acts comprised of the procedures of laying down the deceased’s body, the procession to the grave yard, and the actual burial of the cremated remains of the dead. Similar to most funerals in today’s civilized world; the ancient Greek displayed family wealth and kinship ties. It was both a ceremony and much like a social event to bid farewell to the dead as well as an act of consolation to the family of the deceased. However, this was a function that displayed the family’s wealth and kinship, it was further a rite of passage from the living soul to the afterlife and the main purpose was to support the soul along its journey to afterlife. (Taylor 83-109). The ancient Greek strongly believed that if the soul was not buried; then its entrance into the Hades would be compromised and thus the fundamental purpose of these rituals was extremely important to the future of the soul after death. Most of the ancient Greeks believe that; if the soul was not allowed to enter into the Hades then it was not be able to gain peace for it was to be disembodied. This created great fear among the Greeks and the denial of proper burial rites was often used as a punishment for those who had committed serious crimes during their lifetime. The most feared type of death was at sea since the body could not be retrieved to be accorded proper burial (Robben 61-75). Death Deities in Greek Legend and Myth Like in most religions, there were deities in Ancient Greek which were accorded roles and responsibilities during the personification of the deceased. There are various deities, who are either related to or are offered to the personification of the deceased and some of the most common deities that existed are as discussed below: Hades Hades was known as the underworld Greek god, it was the destination of the soul after the death of an individual. This god presided over the punishment of the deceased after he/she died. The name of the god was also the synonym of the underworld and it is similar to the Christian belief of the existence of Hell (Robben 93-117). Thanatos Thanatos was the brother of Hypnos and the son of Nyx; the god of sleep and also the goddess of night. Further, he was also the Greek death personification. When an individual passed away, it would be his responsibility to direct the soul to the underworld (Obayashi 24-33). The Fates Under Greek mythology, the Fates were three sisters which were responsible for the destiny of the soul. They were also associated with death as they determined for how long an individual was supposed to live before he died. The three sisters were: Clotho who spinned and individuals thread of life, Lachesis who determined the lifespan of a person, and Atropos who after the others had made their decisions, she would eventually cut the thread of life of an individual hence ending his life (Taylor 113-148). Greek Concept of
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