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Title: After Life in Roman Paganism
Author: Cumont, Franz Valery Marie
Language: English
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*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "After Life in Roman Paganism" ***

                      AFTER LIFE IN ROMAN PAGANISM

                            YALE UNIVERSITY
                        MRS. HEPSA ELY SILLIMAN
                           MEMORIAL LECTURES

                       SILLIMAN MEMORIAL LECTURES


    F.R.S., _Fellow of Trinity College and Cavendish Professor of
    Experimental Physics, Cambridge University_. (_Fourth printing._)

    SHERRINGTON, D.SC., M.D., HON. LL.D. TOR., F.R.S., _Holt Professor
    of Physiology, University of Liverpool_. (_Sixth printing._)

    F.R.S., _Macdonald Professor of Physics, McGill University_.
    (_Second printing._)

    CHEMISTRY. _By_ DR. WALTER NERNST, _Professor and Director of the
    Institute of Physical Chemistry in the University of Berlin_.

    the John Innes Horticultural Institution, Merton Park, Surrey,
    England_. (_Second printing._)

  STELLAR MOTIONS. With Special Reference to Motions Determined by Means
    of the Spectrograph. _By_ WILLIAM WALLACE CAMPBELL, SC.D., LL.D.,
    _Director of the Lick Observatory, University of California_.
    (_Second printing._)

    _Director of the Physico-Chemical Department of the Nobel Institute,
    Stockholm, Sweden_. (_Third printing._)

  IRRITABILITY. A Physiological Analysis of the General Effect of
    Stimuli in Living Substances. _By_ MAX VERWORN, M.D., PH.D.,
    _Professor at Bonn Physiological Institute_. (_Second printing._)

    LESLIE RANSOME, AND WILLIAM D. MATTHEW. (_Second printing._)

    (_Second printing._)

    BREATHING. _By_ JOHN SCOTT HALDANE, M.D., LL.D., F.R.S., _Fellow of
    New College, Oxford University_. (_Second printing._)

  A CENTURY OF SCIENCE IN AMERICA. With Special Reference to the
    American Journal of Science 1818–1918. _By_ EDWARD SALISBURY DANA,

    F.R.S. (_Second printing._)

  RESPIRATION. _By_ J. S. HALDANE, M.D., LL.D., F.R.S., _Fellow of New
    College, Oxford, Honorary Professor, Birmingham University_.


                      AFTER LIFE IN ROMAN PAGANISM



                              FRANZ CUMONT


                               NEW HAVEN
                         YALE UNIVERSITY PRESS

                          COPYRIGHT, 1922, BY
                         YALE UNIVERSITY PRESS

                              TO MY FRIEND
                       GEORGE LINCOLN HENDRICKSON

                        THE SILLIMAN FOUNDATION

In the year 1883 a legacy of eighty thousand dollars was left to the
President and Fellows of Yale College in the city of New Haven, to be
held in trust, as a gift from her children, in memory of their beloved
and honored mother, Mrs. Hepsa Ely Silliman.

On this foundation Yale College was requested and directed to establish
an annual course of lectures designed to illustrate the presence and
providence, the wisdom and goodness of God, as manifested in the natural
and moral world. These were to be designated as the Mrs. Hepsa Ely
Silliman Memorial Lectures. It was the belief of the testator that any
orderly presentation of the facts of nature or history contributed to
the end of this foundation more effectively than any attempt to
emphasize the elements of doctrine or of creed; and he therefore
provided that lectures on dogmatic or polemical theology should be
excluded from the scope of this foundation, and that the subjects should
be selected, rather, from the domains of natural science and history,
giving special prominence to astronomy, chemistry, geology, and anatomy.

It was further directed that each annual course should be made the basis
of a volume to form part of a series constituting a memorial to Mrs.
Silliman. The memorial fund came into the possession of the Corporation
of Yale University in the year 1901; and the present volume constitutes
the sixteenth of the series of memorial lectures.


At the invitation of the President of Yale University and of Professor
Russell H. Chittenden, chairman of the committee in charge of the
Silliman Foundation, the lectures which are here presented to a wider
public were delivered in New Haven during the month of March of the year
1921. It was the wish of the committee that I should speak upon some
subject from the history of religion. I chose therefore as my theme a
matter which had occupied my attention for many years, viz., the ideas
current in Roman paganism concerning the lot of the soul after death.
The argument has been treated more than once by distinguished scholars
and notably—to mention only an English book—by Mrs. Arthur Strong in her
recent work “Apotheosis and After Life,” a study characterised by
penetrating interpretation, especially of archaeological monuments. But
we do not yet possess for the Roman imperial epoch a counterpart to
Rohde’s classical volume, “Psyche,” for the earlier Greek period, that
is, a work in which the whole evolution of Roman belief and speculation
regarding a future life is set forth. These lectures cannot claim to
fill this gap. They may however be looked upon as a sketch of the
desired investigation, in which, though without the detailed citation of
supporting evidence, an attempt at least has been made to trace the
broad outlines of the subject in all its magnitude.

The lectures are printed in the form in which they were delivered. The
necessity of making each one intelligible to an audience which was not
always the same, has made inevitable some repetitions. Cross references
have been added, where the same topics are treated in different
connections. However, in a book intended primarily for the general
reader, the scholarly apparatus has been reduced to a minimum and as a
rule indicates only the source of passages quoted in the text.

My acknowledgment is due to Miss Helen Douglas Irvine, who with skill
and intelligent understanding of the subject translated into English the
French text of these lectures. I wish also to express my gratitude to my
friends, Professor George Lincoln Hendrickson, who took upon himself the
tedious task of reading the manuscript and the proofs of this book and
to whom I am indebted for many valuable suggestions both in matter and
in form, and Professor Grant Showerman, who obligingly consented to
revise the last chapters before they were printed.

  Rome, September, 1922.


  PREFACE. P. xi.

  HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION. General view of the subject, 1—The ancient
    beliefs: after life in the tomb, 3—in the nether world,
    4—Philosophical criticism, 5—Academic and Peripatetic schools,
    6—Epicureans, 7—Stoics, 12—Scepticism at the end of the Republic,
    16—Earthly immortality, 19—Rebirth of Pythagorism, 20—Its teaching,
    24—Posidonius, 27—Cicero, 31—Diffusion of the mysteries, 33—Hermetic
    writings and Chaldean oracles, 38—Plutarch, 39—The second and third
    centuries, 39—Neo-Platonism, 40—Conclusion, 43.

  I. AFTER LIFE IN THE TOMB. Survival of primitive beliefs, 44—After
    life of the body, 45—The tomb “eternal house,” 48—Food for the dead,
    50—Sacrifices, 51—Funeral meals, 52—Gardens, 56—Connection of the
    dead with the living, 57—The aerial souls, 59—Beneficent, 60—or
    Malevolent, 63—Souls of the unburied, 64—Become ghosts, 67.

  II. THE NETHER WORLD. Belief in the nether world, 70—After life
    prolongation of earthly life, 72—Greek doctrines introduced into
    Italy, 73—Philosophical criticism, 76—Hades transported to this
    life, 78—Distinction of “soul” and shade, 79—Hades is the lower
    hemisphere, 79—Hades in the air, 81—Scepticism, 83—Persistence of
    old tradition in literature and art, 84—Ancient beliefs maintained
    in the people, 86—Neo-Platonists, 87—Persian dualism, 89.

  III. CELESTIAL IMMORTALITY. Widespread beliefs that souls rise to the
    stars, 91—Unknown in ancient Greece, 94—Pythagorism, 95—Lunar
    immortality, 96—Solar immortality, 100—Combination of both,
    102—Stellar immortality, 103—Combined with the other doctrines:
    three stages, 106—Passage through the planetary spheres, 107—Souls
    rise above the stars, 108.

  IV. THE WINNING OF IMMORTALITY. Ancient conception of immortality,
    110—Eminent men gods on earth, 111—Immortality of the few,
    114—Mysteries claim to procure “deification,” 116—Lustrations,
    118—Unctions, 119—Ritual banquets, 120—The _gnosis_,
    121—Identification with a particular god, 122—Illumination by the
    astral divinities, 123—Philosophy also leads to union with God, 124.

  V. UNTIMELY DEATH. Children not admitted to the Elysian Fields,
    128—Those who die violent deaths, 129—Influence of astrology,
    131—Pythagorism, 132—Magic, 134—Philosophical reaction, 136—Children
    initiated, 138—Their souls rise to heaven, 139—Different categories
    of _biothanati_, 141—Soldiers slain in battle, 142—Suicides,
    143—Executed criminals, 145—Persistence of ancient beliefs, 146.

  VI. THE JOURNEY TO THE BEYOND. Journey to the nether world, 148—The
    Pythagorean Y, 150—The two roads, 152—How the dead reach heaven,
    153—On foot, by means of a ladder, 153—In a boat, 154—On horseback,
    155—In a chariot, 156—As a bird, 157—Carried by an eagle, 158—Solar
    attraction, 160—Physical theory, 161—The air peopled with demons,
    162—The gates of the planetary spheres, 162—Guide of the souls,
    163—Physical character of the dead, 164—The shade and the soul,
    167—Distinction of soul and reason, 168—Neo-Platonic “vehicle,” 169.

    170—Orphic theology, 171—Resemblance to penal law, 172—Apocryphal
    gospel of Peter, 173—Oriental influence, 174—Fire of hell,
    175—Metempsychosis, its animistic basis, 177—Origin in Greece,
    177—Souls passing continuously through different kinds of beings,
    179—Reincarnation a punishment, 180—“Palingenesis” or uncontinuous
    reincarnation, 182—Transmigration from man to man, 183—Purification
    of the soul in the air, 184—by water and fire, 185—Purgatory in the
    atmosphere, 186—The purified spirit remains in heaven, 187.

  VIII. THE FELICITY OF THE BLESSED. Rest in the tomb, 190—in the nether
    world, 193—in the light of heaven, 193—Persistence of these ideas
    among the Christians, 196—Repast of the dead, 199—Repast in the
    nether world, 201—The funeral banquet and the sacred meal of the
    mysteries, 203—Banquet in heaven, 205—Persistence in Christianity,
    206—The sight of the god, 207—In the astral cults, 208—Communion of
    man with the stars, 209—Immortality a contemplation of the astral
    gods, 210—Astral mysticism, 211—Ecstasy of the Neo-Platonists,
    212—Last conception of eternal bliss, 213.

  INDEX. P. 215.

                        HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION

The idea of death has perhaps never been more present to humanity than
during the years through which we have just passed. It has been the
daily companion of millions of men engaged in a murderous conflict; it
has haunted the even larger number who have trembled for the lives of
their nearest and dearest; it is still constantly in the thoughts of the
many who nurse regret for those they loved. And doubtless also, the
faith or the hope has never more imposed itself, even on the
unbelieving, that these countless multitudes, filled with moral force
and generous passion, who have entered eternity, have not wholly
perished, that the ardour which animated them was not extinguished when
their limbs grew cold, that the spirit which impelled them to
self-sacrifice was not dissipated with the atoms which formed their

These feelings were known to the ancients also, who gave to this very
conviction the form suggested by their religion. Pericles[1] in his
funeral eulogy of the warriors who fell at the siege of Samos declared
that they who die for their country become like the immortal gods, and
that, invisible like them, they still scatter their benefits on us. The
ideas on immortality held in antiquity are often thus at once far from
and near to our own—_near_ because they correspond to aspirations which
are not antique or modern, but human, _far_ because the Olympians now
have fallen into the deep gulf where lie dethroned deities. These ideas
become more and more like the conceptions familiar to us as gradually
their time grows later, and those generally admitted at the end of
paganism are analogous to the doctrines accepted throughout the Middle

I flatter myself, therefore, that when I speak to you of the beliefs in
a future life held in Roman times I have chosen a subject which is not
very remote from us nor such as has no relation to our present thought
or is capable of interesting only the learned.

We can here trace only the outlines of this vast subject. I am aware
that it is always imprudent to hazard moral generalisations: they are
always wrong somewhere. Above all, it is perilous to attempt to
determine with a few words the infinite variety of individual creeds,
for nothing escapes historical observation more easily than the intimate
convictions of men, which they often hide even from those near them. In
periods of scepticism pious souls cling to old beliefs; the conservative
crowd remains faithful to ancestral traditions. When religion is
resuming its empire, rationalistic minds resist the contagion of faith.
It is especially difficult to ascertain up to what point ideas adopted
by intellectual circles succeeded in penetrating the deep masses of the
people. The epitaphs which have been preserved give us too scanty and
too sparse evidence in this particular. Besides, in paganism a dogma
does not necessarily exclude its opposite dogma: the two sometimes
persist side by side in one mind as different possibilities, each of
which is authorised by a respectable tradition. You will therefore make
the necessary reservations to such of my statements as are too absolute.
I shall be able to point out here only the great spiritual currents
which successively brought to Rome new ideas as to the Beyond, and to
sketch the evolution undergone by the doctrines as to the lot and the
abode of souls. You will not expect me to be precise as to the number of
the partisans of each of these doctrines in the various periods.

At least we can distinguish the principal phases of the religious
movement which caused imperial society to pass from incredulity to
certain forms of belief in immortality, forms at first somewhat crude
but afterwards loftier, and we can see where this movement led. The
change was a capital one and transformed for the ancients the whole
conception of life. The axis about which morality revolved had to be
shifted when ethics no longer sought, as in earlier Greek philosophy, to
realise the sovereign good on this earth but looked for it after death.
Thenceforth the activity of man aimed less at tangible realities,
ensuring well-being to the family or the city or the state, and more at
attaining to the fulfilment of ideal hopes in a supernatural world. Our
sojourn here below was conceived as a preparation for another existence,
as a transitory trial which was to result in infinite felicity or
suffering. Thus the table of ethical values was turned upside down.

“All our actions and all our thoughts,” says Pascal, “must follow so
different a course if there are eternal possessions for which we may
hope than if there are not, that it is impossible to take any directed
and well-judged step except by regulating it in view of this point which
ought to be our ultimate goal.”[2]

We will attempt first to sketch in a general introduction the historical
transformation which belief in the future life underwent between the
Republican period and the fall of paganism. Then, in three lectures, we
will examine more closely the various conceptions of the abode of the
dead held under the Roman Empire, study in three others the conditions
or the means which enable men to attain to immortality and in the last
two set forth the lot of souls in the Beyond.

                  *       *       *       *       *

The cinerary vases of the prehistoric period are often modelled in the
shape of huts: throughout, funeral sculpture follows the tradition that
the tomb should reproduce the dwelling, and until the end of antiquity
it was designated, in the West as in the East, as the “eternal house” of
him who rested in it.

Thus a conception of the tomb which goes back to the remotest ages and
persists through the centuries regards it as “the last dwelling” of
those who have left us; and this expression has not yet gone out of use.
It was believed that a dead man continued to live, in the narrow space
granted him, a life which was groping, obscure, precarious, yet like
that he led on earth. Subject to the same needs, obliged to eat and to
drink, he expected those who had been nearest to him to appease his
hunger and thirst. The utensils he had used, the things he had cared
for, were often deposited beside him so that he might pursue the
occupations and enjoy the amusements which he had forsaken in the world.
If he were satisfied he would stay quietly in the furnished house
provided for him and would not seek to avenge himself on those whose
neglect had caused him suffering. Funeral rites were originally inspired
rather by fear than by love. They were precautions taken against the
spirit of the dead rather than pious care bestowed in their interest.[3]

For the dead were powerful; their action was still felt; they were not
immured in the tomb or confined beneath the ground. Men saw them
reappear in dreams, wearing their former aspect. They were descried
during shadowy vigils; their voices were heard and their movements
noted. Imagination conceived them such as they had once been;
recollection of them filled the memory and to think of such apparitions
as idle or unreal seemed impossible. The dead subsisted, then, as
nebulous, impalpable beings, perceived by the senses only exceptionally.
Here the belief that their remains had not quite lost all feeling
mingled with the equally primitive and universal belief that the soul is
a breath, exhaled with the last sigh. The vaporous shade, sometimes a
dangerous but sometimes a succouring power, wandered by night in the
atmosphere and haunted the places which the living man had been used to
frequent. Except for some sceptical reasoners, all antiquity admitted
the reality of these phantoms. Century-old beliefs, maintained by
traditional rites, thus persisted, more or less definitely, in the
popular mind, even after new forms of the future life were imagined.
Many vestiges of these beliefs have survived until today.

The first transformation undergone by the primitive conception was to
entertain the opinion that the dead who are deposited in the ground
gather together in a great cavity inside the bowels of the earth.[4]
This belief in the nether world is found among most of the peoples of
the Mediterranean basin: the _Sheol_ of the Hebrews differs little from
the Homeric _Hades_ and the Italic _Inferi_.

It has been conjectured that the substitution of incineration for
inhumation contributed to spreading this new manner of conceiving life
beyond the tomb: the shade could not remain attached to a handful of
ashes enclosed in a puny urn. It went, then, to join its fellows who had
gone down into the dark dwelling where reigned the gods of a
subterranean kingdom. But as ghosts could leave their graves in order to
trouble or to help men, so the swarms of the infernal spirits rose to
the upper world through the natural openings of the earth, or through
ditches dug for the purpose of maintaining communication with them and
conciliating them with offerings.

The Romans do not seem to have imagined survival in the infernal regions
very differently from the survival of the vague monotonous shades in
their tombs. Their _Manes_ or _Lemures_ had no marked personality or
clearly characterised individual features. The _Inferi_ were not, as in
Greece, a stage for the enactment of a tragic drama; their inhabitants
had no original life, and in the lot dealt to them no idea of
retribution can be discerned. In this matter it was the Hellenes who
imposed their conceptions of Hades on the Italic peoples and gave them
those half mythical and half theological beliefs which Orphism had
introduced in their own religion. Hellenic influence was felt directly
through the colonies of Greater Greece, indirectly through the
Etruscans, whose funeral sculpture shows us that they had adopted all
the familiar figures of the Greek Hades—Charon, Cerberus, the Furies,
Hermes Psychopompos and the others.[5]

From the time when Latin literature had its beginnings and the Latin
theatre was born, we find writers taking pleasure in reproducing the
Hellenic fables of Tartarus and the Elysian Fields; and Plautus[6] can
already make one of his characters say that he has seen “many paintings
representing the pains of Acheron.” This infernal mythology became an
inexhaustible theme which gave matter to poetry and art until the end of
antiquity and beyond it. We shall see, in later lectures, how the
religious traditions of the Greeks were subjected to various
transformations and interpretations.

                  *       *       *       *       *

But Greece did not introduce poetic beliefs only into Rome: she also
caused her philosophy to be adopted there from the second century
onwards, and this philosophy tended to be destructive both of those
beliefs and of the old native faith in the Manes and in the Orcus.
Polybius,[7] when speaking appreciatively of the religion of the Romans,
praises them for having inculcated in the people a faith in numerous
superstitious practices and tragic fictions. He considers this to be an
excellent way of keeping them to their duty by the fear of infernal
punishment. Hence we gather that if the historian thought it well for
the people to believe in these inventions, then, in his opinion,
enlightened persons, like his friends the Scipios, could see in them
nothing but the stratagems of a prudent policy. But the scepticism of a
narrow circle of aristocrats could not be confined to it for long when
Greek ideas were more widely propagated.

Greek philosophy made an early attack on the ideas held as to a future
life. Even Democritus, the forerunner of Epicurus, spoke of “some people
who ignore the dissolution of our mortal nature and, aware of the
perversity of their life, pass their time in unrest and in fear and
forge for themselves deceitful fables as to the time when follows their
end.”[8] It is true that in the fourth century Plato’s idealism had
supplied, if not a strict proof of immortality, yet reasons for it
sufficient to procure its acceptance by such as desired to be convinced.
But in the Alexandrian age, which was the surpassingly scientific period
of Greek thought, there was a tendency to remove all metaphysical and
mythical conceptions of the soul’s destiny from the field of
contemplation. This was the period in which the Academy, Plato’s own
school, unfaithful to its founder’s doctrines, was led by men who, like
Carneades, raised scepticism to a system and stated that man can reach
no certainty. We know that when Carneades was sent to Rome as ambassador
in 156 B. C. he made a great impression by maintaining that justice is a
matter of convention, and that he was consequently banished by the
senate as a danger to the state. But we need only read Cicero’s works to
learn what a lasting influence his powerfully destructive dialectics

The dogmatism of other sects was at this time hardly at all more
favourable to the traditional beliefs in another life.

Aristotle had thought that human reason alone persisted, and that the
emotional and nutritive soul was destroyed with the body, but he left no
personality to this pure intelligence, deprived of all sensibility. He
definitely denied that the “blessed” could be happy. With him begins a
long period during which Greek philosophy nearly ceased to speculate on
destiny beyond the grave. It was repugnant to Peripatetic philosophy to
concern itself with the existence of a soul which could be neither
conceived nor defined by reason. Some of Aristotle’s immediate
disciples, like Aristoxenus and Dicaearchus, or Straton of Lampsacus,
the pupil of Theophrastus, agreed in denying immortality altogether; and
later, in the time of the Severi, Alexander of Aphrodisias, the great
commentator of The Stagirite, undertook to prove that the entire soul,
that is the higher and the lower soul, had need of the body in order to
be active and perished with it, and that such was the veritable thought
of the master. But profoundly as Peripateticism affected Greek thought,
directly and indirectly, in practically discarding the future life, this
was not the philosophy which dominated minds towards the end of the
Roman Republic. Other schools then had a much wider influence and made
this influence felt much more deeply on eschatological beliefs. These
schools were Epicureanism and Stoicism.

Epicurus took up again the doctrine of Democritus, and taught that the
soul, which was composed of atoms, was disintegrated at the moment of
death, when it was no longer held together by its fleshly wrapping, and
that its transitory unity was then destroyed for ever. The vital breath,
after being expelled, was, he said, buffeted by the winds and dissolved
in the air like mist or smoke, even before the body was decomposed. This
was so ancient a conception that Homer had made use of a like
comparison, and the idea that the violence of the wind can act on souls
as a destructive force was familiar to Athenian children in Plato’s
time.[9] But if the soul thus resolves itself, after death, into its
elementary principles, how can phantoms come to frighten us in the
watches of the night or beloved beings visit us in our dreams? These
simulacra (εἴδωλα) are for Epicurus no more than emanations of particles
of an extreme tenuity, constantly issuing from bodies and keeping for
some time their form and appearance. They act on our senses as do colour
and scent and awake in us the image of a vanished being.

Thus we are vowed to annihilation, but this lot is not one to be
dreaded. Death, which is held to be the most horrible of ills, is in
reality nothing of the sort, since the destruction of our organism
abolishes all its sensibility. The time when we no longer exist is no
more painful for us than that when we had not yet our being. As Plato
deduced the persistence of the soul after death from its supposed
previous existence, so Epicurus drew an opposite conclusion from our
ignorance of our earlier life; and, according to him, the conviction
that we perish wholly can alone ensure our tranquillity of spirit by
delivering us from the fear of eternal torment.

There is no one of the master’s doctrines on which his disciples insist
with more complacent assurance. They praise him for having freed men
from the terrors of the Beyond; they thank him for having taught them
not to fear death; his philosophy appears to them as a liberator of
souls. Lucretius in his third book, of which eighteenth-century
philosophers delighted to celebrate the merits, claims, with a sort of
exaltation, to drive from men’s hearts “that dread of Acheron which
troubles human life to its inmost depths.”[10] The sage sees all the
cruel fictions, with which fable had peopled the kingdom of terrors,
scattered abroad, and, when he has rid himself of the dismay which
haunts the common man, which casts a mournful veil over things and
leaves no joy unmixed, he finds a blessed calm, the perfect quietude or

This doctrine, which Lucretius preached with the enthusiasm of a
neophyte won to the true faith, had a profound reaction in Rome. Its
adepts in Cicero’s circle were numerous, including Cassius, the murderer
of Caesar. Sallust goes so far as to make Caesar himself affirm, in full
senate, that death, the rest from torment, dispels the ills which
afflict mankind, that beyond it there is neither joy nor sorrow.[11] Men
of science, in particular, were attracted by these theories. In a
celebrated passage Pliny the Naturalist, after categorically declaring
that neither the soul nor the body has any more sensation after death
than before the day of birth, ends with a vehement apostrophe: “Unhappy
one, what folly is thine who in death renewest life! Where will
creatures ever find rest if souls in heaven, if shades in the infernal
regions, still have feeling? Through this complacent credulity we lose
death, the greatest boon which belongs to our nature, and the sufferings
of our last hour are doubled by the fear of what will follow after. If
it be indeed sweet to live, for whom can it be so to have lived? How
much easier and more certain is the belief which each man can draw from
his own experience, when he pictures his future tranquillity on the
pattern of that which preceded his birth!”[12]

Even Seneca in one of his tragedies, an early work, makes the chorus of
Trojan women declaim a long profession of faith which is the purest

The invasion of the Roman world by the Oriental mysteries and
superstitions in the second century caused the unbelievers to exalt
Epicurus yet higher. The satirist Lucian, using almost the same
expressions as Lucretius, proclaims the truly sacred and divine
character of him who alone knew the good with the true, and who
transmitted it to his disciples, to whom he gave moral liberty.[14]
Believers everywhere looked upon him as a terrible blasphemer. The
prophet Alexander of Abonotichos enjoined all who would obtain divine
graces to drive away with stones “atheists, Epicureans and Christians,”
and exclude them from his mysteries.[15] He ordered by an oracle that
the writings of him whom he called “the blind old man” should be burnt.
When mysticism and Platonism triumphed in the Roman world, Epicureanism
ceased to exist. It had disappeared in the middle of the fourth century,
yet Julian the Apostate thought it advisable to include the writings of
Epicurus among the books which were forbidden to the priests of his
revived paganism.[16]

Thus during several centuries this philosophy had won a multitude of
followers. The inscriptions bear eloquent witness to this fact. The most
remarkable of them is a long text which was set out on the wall of a
portico in the little town of Oenoanda in Lycia. A worthy citizen,
Diogenes by name, who seems to have lived under the Antonines, was a
convinced partisan of the doctrine of Epicurus; and feeling his end draw
near, he wished to engrave an exposition thereof on marble for the
present and future edification of his countrymen and of strangers. He
does not fail to evince his contempt for death, at which, he says, he
has learnt to mock. “I do not let myself be frightened by the Tityi and
the Tantali whom some represent in Hades; horror does not seize me when
I think of the putrefaction of my body ... when the links which bind our
organism are loosened, nothing further touches us.”[17] These are ideas
which we find reproduced everywhere, in various forms, for Epicureanism
did not only win convinced partisans in the most cultivated circles, but
also spread in the lowest strata of the population, as is proved by
epitaphs expressing unbelief in an after life. Some do not go beyond a
short profession of faith, “We are mortal; we are not immortal.”[18] One
maxim is repeated so often that it is sometimes expressed only by
initials, “I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care.”[19] So man goes
back to nothingness whence he went forth. It has been remarked that this
epigraphic formula was engraved especially on the tombs of slaves, who
had slight reason for attachment to life. Gladiators also adopted the
sentence: these wretched men, who were to prove their indifference to
death in the arena, were taught that it marked the destruction of
feeling and the term of their suffering.

The same thought is sometimes expressed less brutally, almost
touchingly. Thus a comedian, who has spouted many verses and tramped
many roads, voices in his epitaph the conviction that life is a loan,
like a part in a play: “My mouth no longer gives out any sound; the
noise of applause no longer reaches me; I paid my debt to nature and
have departed. All this is but dust.”[20] Another actor, who recited
Homer’s verses in the festivals, tells us that he “laughs at illusions
and slumbers softly,” returning to the Epicurean comparison of death
with an unconscious sleep which has no awakening.[21]

Some wordier unbelievers felt the need of enlarging on their
negations.[22] “There is no boat of Hades, no ferryman Charon, no Aeacus
as doorkeeper, no dog Cerberus. All we, whom death sends down to the
earth, become bones and ashes and no more.... Offer not perfumes and
garlands to my stele: it is but a stone; burn no fire: the expenditure
is vain. If thou have a gift, give it me while I live. If thou givest to
my ashes to drink, thou wilt make mud: and the dead will not drink....
When thou scatterest earth on my remains, say that I have again become
as I was when I was not.” This last thought occurs frequently. Thus on a
Roman tomb we read: “We are and we were nothing. See, reader, how
swiftly we mortals go back from nothingness to nothingness.”[23]

Sometimes these dead adopt a joking tone which is almost macabre. Thus a
freedman, merry to the grave, boasts of the amenities of his new state:
“What remains of man, my bones, rests sweetly here. I no longer have the
fear of sudden starvation; I am exempt from attacks of gout; my body is
no longer pledged for my rent; and I enjoy free and perpetual

Often a grosser Epicureanism recommends that we make profit of our
earthly passage since the fatal term deprives us for ever of the
pleasures which are the sovereign good. “Es bibe lude veni”—“Eat, drink,
play, come hither”—is advice which is several times repeated.[25] Not
uncommonly, variations occur, inspired by the famous epitaph which was
on the alleged tomb of Sardanapalus and is resumed in the admonition:
“Indulge in voluptuousness, for only this pleasure wilt thou carry away
with thee”; or as it is expressed in the Epistle to the Corinthians,
“Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”[26] So we read on a stone
found near Beneventum: “What I have eaten and what I have drunk; that is
all that belongs to me.”[27] A well-known distich states that “Baths,
wine, and love impair our bodies, but baths, wine, and love make
life”;[28] and a veteran of the army had advice based on his own example
engraved on his tomb, “While I lived, I drank willingly; drink, ye who
live.”[29] The exhortation to enjoy a life soon to be interrupted by
death is a traditional theme which has lent itself to many developments
in ancient and modern poetry. It is the formula which resumes the wisdom
of the popular Epicureanism. Some silver goblets, found in Boscoreale
near Pompeii,[30] show us philosophers and poets among skeletons, and
inscriptions urging them to rejoice while they live, since no man is
certain of the morrow. Epicurus appears in person, his hand stretching
towards a cake on a table; and between his legs is a little pig lifting
his feet and snout to the cake to take his share of it. Above the cake
are the Greek words, ΤΟ ΤΕΛΟΣ ΗΔΟΝΗ, “The supreme end is pleasure.”
Horace, when he advises us to live from day to day without poisoning the
passing hour with hopes or fears for the future, speaks of himself,
jestingly, as a fat “hog of Epicurus’ herd.”[31] It was thus that the
vulgar interpreted the precepts of him who had in reality preached
moderation and renunciation as the means of reaching true happiness.

                  *       *       *       *       *

If Epicureanism chose its ground as the passionate adversary of
religious beliefs, the other great system which shared its dominance of
minds in Rome, Stoicism, sought, on the contrary, to reconcile these
beliefs with its theories. But the allegorical interpretations which
Stoicism suggested, led, indirectly, to nearly the same result as a
complete negation, for when it changed the meaning of the ancient myths
it really destroyed the traditions which it sought to preserve. This is
true in particular of its ideas as to the future life.

It will be remembered that man is for the Stoics a microcosm, who
reproduces in his person the constitution of the universe. The entire
mass of the world is conceived by them as animated by a divine Fire, a
first principle which evokes the succession of natural phenomena. An
uninterrupted chain of causes, ordered by this supreme reason,
necessarily determines the course of events and irresistibly governs the
existence of the great All. This cosmic life is conceived as formed of
an infinite series of exactly similar cycles: the four elements are
periodically reabsorbed into the purest of their number, which is the
Fire of intelligence, and then, after the general conflagration, are
once more dissociated.

In the same way our organism lives, moves and thinks because it is
animated by a detached particle of this fiery principle which penetrates
everything. As this principle reaches to the limits of the universe, so
our soul occupies the whole body in which it lodges. The pantheism of
the Porch conceives as material both God and the reason which rules us,
the reason which is, in the emphatic words of Epictetus,[32] “a fragment
of God.” It is defined as a hot breath (πνεῦμα πυρῶδες, _anima
inflammata_); it is like the purest part of the air which maintains life
by respiration, or the ardent ether which feeds the stars. This
individual soul maintains and preserves man, as the soul of the world,
by connecting its various parts, saves it from disintegration. But on
both sides this action is only temporary; souls cannot escape the fatal
lot imposed on the whole of which they are but a tiny portion. At the
end of each cosmic period the universal conflagration (ἐκπύρωσις) will
cause them to return to the divine home whence all of them came
forth.[33] But if the new cycle, making its new beginning, is to
reproduce exactly that which preceded it, a “palingenesis” will one day
give to the same souls, endowed with the same qualities, the same
existence in the same bodies formed of the same elements.

This is the maximum limit of the immortality which the materialistic
pantheism of the Stoic philosophy could concede. Nor did all the doctors
agree in granting it. The variations of the school on a point which
seems to us of capital importance are most remarkable. While Cleanthes
did indeed admit that all souls thus subsisted after their brief passage
on earth for thousands of years and until the final _ekpyrosis_, for
Chrysippus only the souls of the sages had part in this restricted
immortality. In order to win it they must temper their strength by
resisting the passions. The weak, who had let themselves be conquered in
the struggle of this life, fell in the Beyond also.[34] At the most they
obtained a short period of after life. The brevity or the absence of
this other existence was the chastisement of their weakness.

Thus, almost the same moral consequences and incitements to good could
be drawn from a conditional and diminished immortality, as from the
general eternity of pains and rewards which other thinkers taught. But
the Stoics were not unanimous in adopting these doctrines. We do not
clearly perceive how far they agreed in admitting that the soul,
deprived of corporeal organs, was endowed with feeling and, in
particular, kept an individual conscience connected with that possessed
on earth. It is certain that a definitely negative tendency showed
itself in Rome among the sectaries of Zeno. Panaetius, the friend of the
Scipios, and one of the writers who did most to win the Romans over to
the ideas of the Porch, here dissociated himself from his masters and
absolutely denied personal survival.[35] This attitude was subsequently
that of many Roman Stoics of those who represented the school’s
tradition most purely. The master of the poet Persius, Cornutus, of whom
a short work remains to us, declared that the soul died with the body,
immediately.[36] Similarly, at a later date, Epictetus and Marcus
Aurelius, although they sometimes seem to admit the possibility of
survival, certainly incline rather to believe that souls are
disintegrated and return to the elemental mass whence they were formed.
Even Seneca, who is more swayed by other tendencies and whose wavering
thought does not always remain consistent nor perspicuous, is not
convinced of the truth of immortality. It is no more to him than a
beautiful hope.

How is it that Stoicism thus hesitated at a point on which the whole
conception of human life seems to us to depend? It was that
eschatological theories had in reality only a secondary value in this
system, of which the essential part was not affected by their
variability. True Stoicism placed the realisation of its ideal in this
world. For it the aim of our existence here below was not preparation
for death but the conquest of perfect virtue, which freed him who had
attained to it from the passions and thus conferred on him independence
and felicity. Man could, of himself, reach a complete beatitude which
was not impaired by the limits placed to his duration. The sage, a
blissful being, was a god on earth: heaven could give him nothing more.
Therefore for these philosophers the answer to the question, “What
becomes of us after death?” did not depend on moral considerations as it
generally does for us. For them it rather followed on physical theories.

If these theories allow of different solutions of the problem of
immortality, they agree on one point—the impossibility that the soul, if
it is to last longer than we, should go down into the depths of the
earth; for the soul was, as we have said, conceived as an ardent breath;
that is to say, as formed of the two elements, air and fire, which have
the property of rising to the heights. Its very nature prevented its
descent: “it is impossible to conceive that it is borne downwards.”[37]
Thus all the vulgar notions as to Hades were in contradiction with Stoic
psychology, a point to which we will return in treating of the nether
world.[38] These philosophers do indeed speak of Hades but, faithful to
their habits, while they use traditional terms they give them a new
meaning. “The descent into Hades” is for them simply the departing from
life, the transference of the soul to new surroundings. Thus Epictetus,
who uses this expression (κάθοδος εἰς Ἄιδου), clearly states in another
passage, “There is no Hades, no Acheron, no Cocytus, no Pyriphlegethon,
but all is filled with gods and demons.”[39] These gods and demons were,
however, no more than personifications of the forces of nature.[40]

The true Stoic doctrine is, then, that souls, when they leave the
corpse, subsist in the atmosphere and especially in its highest part
which touches the circle of the moon.[41] But after a longer or less
interval of time they, like the flesh and the bones, are decomposed and
dissolve into the elements which formed them.

This thought, like Epicurean nihilism, often appears in epitaphs, and
shows how Stoic ideas had spread among the people. Thus on a tombstone
found in Moesia we read first the mournful statement that there is
neither love nor friendship among the dead and that the corpse lies like
a stone sunk into the ground. Then the dead man adds:[42] “I was once
composed of earth, water and airy breath (πνεῦμα), but I perished, and
here I rest, having rendered all to the All. Such is each man’s lot.
What of it? There, whence my body came, did it return, when it was
dissolved.” Sometimes there is more insistence on the notion that this
cosmic breath, in which ours is gathered up, is the godhead who fills
and rules the world. So in this epitaph: “The holy spirit which thou
didst bear has escaped from thy body. That body remains here and is like
the earth; the spirit pursues the revolving heavens; the spirit moves
all; the spirit is nought else than God.”[43] Elsewhere we find the
following brief formula, which sums up the same idea: “The ashes have my
body; the sacred air has borne away my soul.”[44] Very characteristic is
an inscription inspired by verses of a Greek poet, on the tomb of a
Roman woman: “Here I lie dead and I am ashes; these ashes are earth. If
the earth be a goddess, I too am a goddess and am not dead.”[45]

These verses express the same great thought in various forms: death is
disappearance into the depths of divine nature. It is not for the
preservation of an ephemeral personality that we must hope. Our soul, a
fleeting energy detached from the All, must enter again into the All as
must our body: both are absorbed by God,

           “When that which drew from out the boundless deep
                 Turns again home.”[46]

The fiery breath of our intelligence is gathered, as are the matter and
the humours of our organism, into the inexhaustible reservoir which
produced them, as one day the earth and the heavens will be gathered
thither also. All must be engulfed in one whole, must lose itself in one
forgetfulness. When man has reached the term of his fate, he faints into
the one power which forms and leads the universe, just as the tired
stars will be extinguished in it, when their days shall be accomplished.
Resistance to the supreme law is vain and painful; rebellion against the
irresistible order of things is impious. The great virtue taught by
Stoicism is that of submission to the fatality which guides the world,
of joyous acceptance of the inevitable. Philosophic literature and the
epitaphs present to us, repeatedly and in a thousand forms, the idea
that we cannot strive against omnipotent necessity, that the rule of
this rigid master must be borne without tears or recriminations. The
wise man, who destroys within himself desire of any happenings, enjoys
even during this existence divine calm in the midst of tribulations, but
those whom the vicissitudes of life drive or attract, who let illusions
seduce or grieve them, will at last obtain remission of their troubles
when they reach the tranquil haven of death. This thought is expressed
by a distich which often recurs on tombs, in Greek and in Latin. “I have
fled, escaped. Farewell, Hope and Fortune. I have nothing more to do
with you. Make others your sport.”[47]

Stoic determinism found support in the astrology which originated in
Babylonia and was transplanted to Egypt, and which spread in the
Graeco-Latin world from the second century B. C. onwards, propagating
its mechanical and fatalistic conception of the universe. According to
this pseudo-science, all physical phenomena depended absolutely, like
the character and acts of men, on the revolutions of the celestial
bodies. Thus all the forces of nature and the very energy of
intelligence acted in accordance with an inflexible necessity. Hence
worship had no object and prayer no effect. In this way the sidereal
divination, which had grown up in the temples of the East, ended in
Greece, among certain of its adepts, in a negation of the very basis of
religion.[48] It is noteworthy that in the writings left to us there is
hardly an allusion to the immortality of the soul. When they speak of
what comes after death there is question only of funerals and posthumous
glory. We never find in them a promise to the unfortunate, weighed down
by misadventure and infirmities, of consolation or compensation in the
Beyond. The systematic astrology of the Greeks limits its horizon to
this world, although traces of the belief in Hades subsist in its
vocabulary and its predictions and although this same astral divination
inspired in the mysteries certain eschatological theories, as we shall
see later.[49]

                  *       *       *       *       *

The rationalistic and scientific period of Hellenic thought which began,
as we have said, with Aristotle, filled the Hellenistic period and
continued until the century of Augustus. Towards the end of the Roman
Republic faith in the future life was reduced to a minimum and the
scepticism or indifference of the Alexandrians was carried into Italy.
The mocking verses of an epigram of Callimachus, a man of learning as
well as a poet, is well known.[50] “Charidas, what is there down below?
Deep darkness. But what of the journeys upwards? All lies. And Pluto? A
fable. Then we are lost.” Catullus was to say as much, less lightly,
with a deeper feeling. “Suns can set and rise again, but we, when our
brief light is extinguished, must sleep for an eternal night.”[51] The
religions belief in retribution in the Beyond was shaken, as all the
others were, not only in literary and philosophic circles but among a
large section of the population. The old tales of the Elysian Fields and
Tartarus no longer found credence, as convincing testimony will show
us.[52] Those who sought to preserve them could do so only by using a
daring symbol which altered their character. But the idea of conscious
survival after death was itself no longer looked upon as sure. Many who
did not go so far as to deny it brutally were firmly agnostic. When we
turn over the pages of the thick volumes of the _Corpus inscriptionum_,
we are struck by the small number of the epitaphs which express the hope
of immortality. The impression received is quite the contrary of that
given by going through our own graveyards or surveying the collections
of Christian epitaphs of antiquity. On by far the larger number of the
tombs the survival of the soul was neither affirmed nor denied; it was
not mentioned otherwise than by the banal formula _Dis Manibus_—so
bereft of meaning that even some Christians made use of it. Or else the
authors of funereal inscriptions, like the contemporary writers, used
careful phrases which showed their mental hesitations: “If the Manes
still perceive anything.... If any feeling subsist after death.... If
there be reward for the righteous beneath the ground.”[53] Such doubting
propositions are most frequent. The same indecision made people return
to an alternative presented by Plato in the _Apology_,[54] before his
ideas had evolved, and repeat that death is “an end or a passage,”—_mors
aut finis aut transitus_,—and no choice is made between the two
possibilities: the question is left open. The future life was generally
regarded as a consoling metaphysical conception, a mere hypothesis
supported by some thinkers, a religious hope but not an article of
faith. The lofty conclusion which ends Agricola’s eulogy will be
remembered. “If,” says Tacitus, “there be an abode of the spirits of
virtuous men, if, as sages have taught, great souls be not extinguished
with the body, rest in peace.” But side by side with the supposition
thus hazarded, the historian expresses the assurance that Agricola will
receive another reward for his merits. All that his contemporaries have
loved and admired in his character will cause the fame of his deeds to
live in men’s memory through the eternity of ages.

We here see how the perplexity in which men struggled, when they thought
of psychic survival, gave earthly immortality a greater value in the
eyes of the ancients. It was for many of them the essential point
because it alone was certain. Not to fall into the abyss of
forgetfulness seemed a sufficient reward for virtue. “Death is to be
feared by those for whom everything is extinguished with their life, not
by those whose renown cannot perish.”[55] That the commemoration of our
merits may not cease when the short time of our passage here below has
ended, but may be prolonged for as long as the sequence of future
generations lasts—this is the deep desire which stimulates virtue and
excites to effort. Cicero, when celebrating in the _Pro Archia_[56] the
benefits wrought by the love of glory,—from which he was by no means
exempt himself,—remarks shrewdly that even philosophers, who claim to
show its vanity, are careful to place their names at the beginning of
their books, thus showing the worth they attach to that which they
exhort others to despise. Even more than today, the hope of a durable
renown, the anxiety that their fellows should be busy about them even
after their departure, the preoccupation lest their life should not be
favourably judged by public opinion, haunted many men, secretly or
avowedly dominated their thought and directed their actions. Even those
who had played only a modest part in the world and had made themselves
known only to a narrow circle, sought to render their memory
unforgettable by building strong tombs for themselves along the great
roads. Epitaphs often begin with the formula _Memoriae aeternae_, “To
the eternal memory,” which we have inherited, although the idea it
represents no longer has for most of us any but a very relative value.

In antiquity it was first connected with the old belief in a communion
of sentiments and an exchange of services between the deceased and their
descendants who celebrated the funeral cult. When the firm belief in the
power of the shades to feel and act ceased to exist, offerings were made
with another intention: survivors liked to think that he who had gone
had not entirely perished as long as his remembrance subsisted in the
hearts of those who had cherished him and the minds of those who had
learnt his praises. In some way, he rose from the grave in the image
made of him by the successors of those who had known him. Epicurus
himself stipulated in his will that the day of his birth should be
commemorated every month,[57] and under the Roman Empire his disciples
were still piously celebrating this recurring feast. Thus this deep
instinct of preservation, which impels human beings to desire survival,
showed itself even in him who contributed most of all to destroy faith
in immortality.

                  *       *       *       *       *

It is always with difficulty that men resign themselves to dying wholly.
Even when reason admits, nay when it desires, annihilation, the
subconscious self protests against it; our personality is impelled by
its very essence to crave the persistence of its self. Besides, the
feelings of survivors rebel against the pain of an unending separation,
the definite loss of all affections. In the troubled times which marked
the end of the Roman Republic, at a moment when changing fortune
periodically turned all the conditions of existence upside down, there
grew up a stronger aspiration to a better future, a search, to use the
words of the ancients, for a sure haven, in which man, tossed by the
storms of life, might find quiet. Thus in the first century B. C. the
birth was seen, or rather the rebirth, of a mystic movement which
claimed to give by direct communication with God the certainties which
reason could not supply. The chief preoccupation of philosophers began
to be those capital questions as to the origin and end of man which the
schools of the earlier period had neglected as unanswerable. It was
above all the Neo-Pythagoreans who gave up pure rationalism, and thus
brought Roman thought to admit new forms of immortality.

When the scientific school of the old Pythagorism came to an end in
Italy in the fourth century, the sect perpetuated itself obscurely in
mysterious conventicles, a sort of freemasonry of which the influence in
the Hellenistic period is difficult to measure or circumscribe. It again
took on new power in Alexandria under the Ptolemies. In this metropolis,
in which all the currents of Europe and Asia were mingled, Pythagorism
admitted at this time many ideas foreign to the teaching of the old
master of Samos. This teaching seems not to have set forth a rigid,
logically constructed theology, and the points of contact with the
beliefs of the East, which its ideas supplied, favoured an accommodating
syncretism. Pythagoras was said to have had Plato as a disciple, and
Plato was venerated almost as much as the teacher he followed. The
powerful structure of Stoic pantheism did not fail to exercise an
ascendancy over the theorists of the school. This school had been, from
its origin, in touch with the Orphic mysteries and those of Dionysos and
it remained so, but it was also subject to the more remote influence of
Babylonian and Egyptian religions, and particularly of those Chaldean
doctrines which the Greeks had learnt to know after Alexander’s

This vast eclecticism, open to all novelties, did not bring about a
break with the past. Theology succeeded in effecting a reconciliation
with all, even the rudest and most absurd traditions of fable, by an
ingenious system of moral allegories. “Divine” Homer thus became a
master of piety and wisdom, and mythology a collection of edifying
stories. Demonology made it possible to justify all the traditional
practices of the cult, as well as magic and divination: everything which
seemed incompatible with the new idea of the divinity was ascribed to
lower powers. Thus the Pythagoreans could take up the position not of
adversaries or reformers but of interpreters of the ancestral religion.
They claimed that they remained faithful to the wisdom of the sages who,
at the dawn of civilisation, had received a divine revelation, which had
been transmitted first to Pythagoras and then to Plato. They felt so
sure that they were expressing the thought of these masters, whose
authority made law, that they did not hesitate to subscribe the
venerated names, by a pious fraud, to their own writings. Nowhere did
apocryphal literature have a more luxuriant efflorescence than in these

When the sect was introduced into Rome it sought, according to its wont,
to connect itself with old local traditions, and without much difficulty
it succeeded. The national pride of the conquerors of Greece could, with
some complacency, regard it as Italic. Pythagoras passed for the teacher
of King Numa, the religious legislator of the city. Ennius had expressed
this philosopher’s doctrine in his poems, and altogether, from the time
of the ancient republic onwards, the half mythical moralist of Greater
Greece enjoyed singular consideration in Rome.[58]

But the first to give new life to the Pythagorean school, which had died
in Italy centuries before, was, according to Cicero, his friend, the
senator Nigidius Figulus, a curious representative of the scientific
religiosity which characterised the sect. This Roman magistrate, a man
of singular erudition, was bitten with all the occult sciences. A
grammarian, a naturalist and a theologian, he was also an astrologer and
magician and, on occasion, a wonder-worker. He did not confine himself
to theory but gathered about him a club of the initiate, of whom we
cannot say whether they were most attracted by scientific curiosity, by
austere morals or by mystic practices. Vatinius, the relative and friend
of Caesar, and, probably, the spiritualist Appius Claudius Pulcher were
the most prominent of this circle of converts.

It is significant that at much the same time the historian Castor of
Rhodes claimed to interpret Roman usages by Pythagorism,[59] and the
stories establishing a connection between the Roman state and the
reformers of Greater Greece were multiplied. In the Augustan age a
worldly poet like Ovid[60] thought it permissible to introduce into his
_Metamorphoses_, where no digression of the sort was to be looked for, a
long speech of Pythagoras explaining vegetarianism and transmigration. A
little later Antonius Diogenes, the romancer, found in the same
philosophy inspiration for his fantastic pictures of the lot of
souls.[61] All this goes to show how powerfully seductive the new sect
proved to be as soon as it was revived in Rome.

But it did not lack enemies. Public malignity did not spare these
mysterious theosophists who met in subterranean crypts. They were blamed
for neglecting the national cult, which had ensured the greatness of the
city, in order to indulge in condemned practices or even to commit
abominable crimes. It was a more serious matter that their secret
gatherings also excited the suspicion of the authorities, and that the
partakers were prosecuted as persons who dealt in magic, which was
punishable by law. The little Pythagorean church seems not to have been
able to maintain itself in the capital for long. In Seneca’s time it was

But Pythagorism continued to find adepts in the empire and soon returned
to Rome. Under Domitian, Apollonius of Tyana made the East resound with
his preaching and miracles, and although thrown into prison by this
emperor he was in favour with his successors. Under the Antonines, the
false prophet Alexander of Abonotichos, unmasked by Lucian, claimed to
be a new incarnation of the sage of Samos, whose wisdom he pretended to
reveal in his mysteries. The literary tradition of the sect maintained
itself until the third century, when it was absorbed by Neo-Platonism.
In a period of syncretism, the originality of this philosophy resided
less in its doctrine than in its observances, and when its conventicles
were dissolved, it easily merged itself in the school which professed to
continue it. During its long life Pythagorism had indeed had a powerful
influence, not only on the system of Plato and Plotinus, but also on the
Oriental cults which spread under the empire. It had supplied the first
type of the learned mysteries in which knowledge (γνῶσις) is at once the
condition and the end of sanctification.[63] Possibly it even penetrated
into Gaul at an early date, by way of Marseilles, and was thus known to
the Druids.

It would certainly be a mistake to look upon Pythagorism as a pure
philosophy, like Epicureanism and Stoicism. Its sectaries formed a
church rather than a school, a religious order, not an academy of
sciences. From a recent discovery in Rome, if my interpretation of the
monument is right,[64] we have learnt that the Pythagoreans met in
underground basilicas, constructed on the model of Plato’s cavern, in
which, according to the great idealist, the chained men see only the
shades of the higher realities.[65] A foundation sacrifice, that of a
dog and a young pig, was made before this basilica was constructed. Its
stucco decoration is borrowed almost entirely from Greek mythology or
the ceremonies of the mysteries. Secret rites and varied purifications
had to be accomplished in it; hymns accompanied by sacred music were
sung; and from a chair within the apse the doctors gave esoteric
teaching to the faithful. They taught them the symbols in which the
truths of faith and the precepts of conduct, formerly revealed by
Pythagoras and the other sages, were handed down in enigmatic form.
These remote disciples interpreted all the myths of the past, and
especially the Homeric poems, by psychological or eschatological
allegories. They laid down, as definite commandments, a rule of strict
observance which included all the acts of daily life. At dawn, after he
had offered a sacrifice to the rising Sun, the pious man must decide on
the way in which his day was to be employed. Every evening he must make
a threefold examination of conscience, and, if he had been guilty of any
sin of omission or commission, must make an act of contrition. He was
obliged to follow a purely vegetarian diet and to practise many
abstinences, to make repeated prayers, to meditate lengthily. This
austere and circumstantial system of morals would ensure happiness and
wisdom on earth and salvation in the Beyond.

All the Neo-Pythagoreans agree in stating that the human soul is related
to God and therefore immortal. Many, like the Stoics, look upon it as a
parcel of the ether, an effluvium of burning and luminous fluid which
fills the celestial spaces and shines in the divine stars. Others, who
are nearer to Plato, believe it to be immaterial and define it as a
number in movement. Always, generation is regarded as a fall and a
danger for the soul. Enclosed in the body as in a tomb, it runs the risk
of corruption, even of perishing. Earthly existence is a hard voyage on
the stormy waters of matter, which are perpetually rolling and surging.
Thus a fundamental pessimism looked upon life here below as a trial and
a chastisement; a radical dualism placed the body in opposition to the
divine essence residing in it. The constant care of the sage was to keep
his soul from pollution by its contact with the flesh. He abstained from
meat and other foods which might corrupt it; a series of tabus protected
it against all contagion. Ritual purifications restored to it its purity
(ἁγνεία) which was continually threatened. The unwearying exercise of
virtue, the scrupulous practice of piety preserved its original nature.
Music, which caused it to vibrate in harmony with the universe, and
science, which lifted it towards divine things, prepared its ascension
to heaven. Meditation was a silent prayer, which placed reason in
communication with the powers on high. Seized by love for the eternal
beauties, it rose in its transports even in this life to God, identified
itself with Him and so rendered itself worthy of a blessed

When the death determined by destiny occurred, the soul escaped from the
body in which it was captive but kept its bodily form and appearance,
and this simulacrum (εἴδωλον) appeared to men in dreams and after
evocations. According to some Pythagoreans, this subtle form was
distinct from the soul (ψυχή), which ascended immediately to the higher
spheres. Others believed that, like a light garment, it wrapped the
soul, which was for some time constrained to dwell here below.[67] After
this shade had remained beside the body or somewhere near the tomb for a
certain number of days, it rose in the atmosphere in which contended
winds, water and fire, and was purified by the elements. This zone, the
lowest circle of the world, was what fable had called hell (_Inferi_),
and it was of this passage from one circle to that next it that poets
spoke when they told of the Styx and Charon’s boat.[68] When the soul
had been purified it was borne, uplifted by the winds, to the sphere of
the moon. Here lay the boundary of life and death, the limit which
divided the residence of the immortals, where all was harmony and
purity, from the corrupt and troubled empire of generation. Thus the
luminary of the night was the first dwelling of the Blessed, and there
lay the Elysian Fields of the poets, Proserpina’s kingdom where rest the
shades. And the Fortunate Islands, of which the ancients sung, were no
other than the sun and the moon, celestial lands bathed by the waters of
the ether.[69]

The shade remained in the moon or was dissolved there, and pure reason
rose to the sun whence it came forth, or even reached the summit of the
heavens where reigned the Most High. A helpful escort, called by
mythology Hermes the Soul-Guide, or _psychopompos_, led the elect to
these Olympian peaks. There they regained their true country, and as
birth had been to them a death, so their death was their rebirth. They
enjoyed the contemplation of the luminous gods. They were rapt by the
ravishing tune of the harmony of the spheres, that divine melody of
which earthly music is but a feeble echo.[70]

Some souls were kept on the banks of the Styx and could not cross it: in
other words, they were constrained to remain on the earth. The dead who
had not had religious burial must linger beside their neglected bodies
for a hundred years, the normal span of a human life, before they were
admitted to the place of purgation, where they would sojourn for ten
times that period.[71] In the same way those who had died young or whose
days had been cut short by violence would not enter the purgatory before
the due term of their life.[72] But especially the souls of the criminal
and the impious were thus condemned to wander, restless and in pain,
through the lower air, which they filled with their multitude. It was
these demoniac spirits who returned as dismal phantoms to frighten the
living, who were evoked by wizards and who revealed the future in
oracles. Demonology accounted for all the aberrations of magic and
divination. These spirits rose to the aerial purgatory after they had
for long years tormented and been tormented, but they could not reach
the moon, which repelled them; they were condemned to reincarnation in
new bodies, either of men or of beasts, and were once again delivered to
the fury of the passions. These passions are the Erinyes, of whom poets
sung, that in Tartarus they burnt criminals with their torches and
scourged them with their whips. For there was no subterranean hell:
Hades was in the air or on our earth, and the infernal sufferings
described by mythology were the various tortures inflicted on the souls
condemned to transmigration.[73]

This religious philosophy, which, by a symbolism transforming the
meaning of the traditional beliefs, reconciled these with men’s
intelligence, did more than any other to revive faith in immortality.
Many enlightened men, like Cicero and Cato, had sought consolation for
the misfortunes of this world and a hope for the Beyond in reading
Plato, but Plato’s proof of immortality could convince only those
already convinced.[74] Pythagorism, on the other hand, offered to
restless souls a certainty founded on a revelation made to ancient
sages, and it satisfied at once the Roman love for order and rule, and
the human love for the marvellous and the mysterious. The evidence of
the effect of this philosophy is still recognisable, although it often
has not been recognised, in the compositions decorating many sepulchral
monuments and in the wording of several epitaphs. A tombstone found at
Philadelphia in Lydia is particularly curious.[75] It bears a
representation of the Y symbol, that is, of the diverging roads between
which man must choose when he leaves childhood behind him. On the one
side earthly travail leads the virtuous man to eternal rest; on the
other softness and debauchery bring the vicious man to a gulf into which
he falls. A metrical epitaph, found at Pisaurum (Pesaro), hints covertly
at the ideas of the school. This commemorates a child who, in spite of
his youth, had learnt the dogmas of Pythagoras and read “the pious
verses of Homer” as well as the philosophers, and had studied in Euclid
the sacred science of numbers. His soul, runs the inscription,[76] “goes
forward through the gloomy stars of deep Tartarus towards the waters of
Acheron,” a sentence which can be understood only on the supposition
that Tartarus and Acheron had for the author a figurative meaning and
lay in the depths not of the earth but of the sky.

                  *       *       *       *       *

The belief in a celestial immortality which was thus propagated by the
half philosophical, half religious sect of the Pythagoreans was to find
a powerful interpreter in a thinker who had a predominant influence over
his contemporaries and the succeeding generation—in Posidonius. We know
little of his life. Born at Apamea in Syria, about the year 135, he
early left his native country, of which he seems to have kept a poor
opinion, and as a young student in Athens he attended the lectures of
the older Stoic Panaetius. The universal curiosity which was to make him
a scholar of encyclopaedic knowledge soon impelled him to take long
journeys, in which he even reached the shores of the Atlantic and
studied the tides of the ocean. Upon his return he opened a school in
the free city of Rhodes and there numbered Cicero among his hearers.
When he died at the age of eighty-four the prestige he enjoyed both in
the Roman world and among the Greeks was immense. He owed his
intellectual ascendancy as much to the marvellous variety of the
knowledge which he displayed, as philosopher, astronomer, historian,
geographer and naturalist, as to his copious, harmonious and highly
coloured style.

A theologian rather than a logician, a scholar rather than a critic, he
did not construct an original metaphysical system comparable to those of
the great founders of schools. But Posidonius was the most prominent
representative of that syncretism which, as we have seen, showed itself
in the Pythagoreans before his day and which reigned in the world about
him, because men were weary of the sterile discussions of opposing
thinkers. He gave the support of his authority and his eloquence to the
eclecticism which reconciled the principles of the ancient Greek
schools. Moreover, his Syrian origin led him to combine these doctrines
with the religious ideas of the East, which had with astrology given the
Hellenes a new conception of man and of the gods.[77]

It is exactly here that Posidonius is important from the point of view
of our subject: his tendencies represent a direct reaction against the
scepticism of his master Panaetius, who denied both the survival of the
soul[78] and the possibility of divination. Posidonius introduced into
Stoicism momentous ideas derived at once from Pythagorism and from
Eastern cults, and sought to establish them firmly by connecting them
with a system of the world, which his vast intelligence had sought to
understand in all its aspects. His faith in immortality is strictly
related to his cosmography and receives support from his physics.

It was this system of the world which was, thanks to Ptolemy’s
authority, to perpetuate itself on the whole until the time of
Copernicus. We will here give a broad outline of its essential features,
because the eschatological doctrines were to remain for centuries
connected with it. The terrestrial globe was held to be suspended,
motionless, in the centre of the universe, surrounded by an atmosphere
formed of the three other elements and reaching to the moon. That part
of the atmosphere which was near the earth was thickened and darkened by
heavy vapours rising from the soil and the waters. Above, there moved a
purer and lighter air which, as it neared the sky, was warmed by contact
with the higher fires. Still higher were ranged the concentric spheres
of the seven planets, wrapped in ether, a subtle and ardent fluid—first
the moon, which still received and gave back the exhalations of the
earth,[79] then Mercury and Venus, the two companions of the sun in his
daily course. The fourth place, that is, the middle point of the
superimposed heavens, was occupied by the luminary of the day,—here
Posidonius forsakes Plato and follows the Chaldeans,—the burning heart
of the world, the intelligent light which is the source of our
minds.[80] Above the sun moved the three higher planets—Mars, Jupiter
and Saturn. And these seven wandering stars were surrounded by the
sphere of the fixed stars, which were animated by constant and uniform
movement. That sphere marked the world’s boundary: beyond it there was
only void or the ether.

The universe, as this philosophy imagined it, had therefore well-defined
limits: when men raised their eyes to the constellations of the
firmament, they thought they perceived its end. The depths of the sky
were not then unfathomable; he who sank his gaze in them was not seized
with giddiness at the abysses nor bewildered by inconceivable
magnitudes, and was not tempted to cry with Pascal:[81] “The eternal
silence of these boundless spaces affrights me.” Nor was the universe
then a multiplicity of heavenly bodies moving to an unknown goal and
perpetually transformed, transitory manifestations of an energy
developed for undiscoverable ends. The conception formed of the world
was static, not dynamic. It was a machine of which the wheels turned
according to immutable laws, an organism of which all the parts were
united by reciprocal sympathy as they acted and reacted on each other.

This organism was alive, penetrated throughout by the same essence as
the soul which maintains our life and thought. This soul was an igneous
breath of which the moral corruption was conceived quite materially.
When it gave itself up to the desires of the senses, to corporeal
passions, its substance thickened and was troubled, and the mud of this
pollution adhered to it like a crust. When the soul left the body at the
time of death, it became a spirit like the multitude of demons who
peopled the atmosphere. But its lot varied in accordance with its
condition. If it were laden with matter, its weight condemned it to
float in the densest air, the damp-charged gas which immediately
surrounded the earth, and its very composition then caused it to
reincarnate itself in new bodies.[82] But if it had remained free from
all alloy its lightness caused it to pass immediately through this
heavier layer of air and bore it to the higher spaces. It stopped in
this ascension when, within the ether which was about the moon, it found
itself in surroundings like its own substance. Some elect beings, the
divine spirits of the sages, kept such purity that they rose through the
ether as far as the highest astral spheres. In this system the doctrine
of immortality is seen to be closely knit up with cosmography.

If Posidonius has largely borrowed these ideas from the platonising
Pythagorism of his period, he forsook this philosophy on an essential
point. As a Stoic he did not admit the transcendency of God. For him,
God was immanent in the universe; the seat of the directing reason of
the world (ἡγεμονικόν) was the sphere of the fixed stars, which embraced
all other spheres and determined their revolutions. There too, at the
summit of the world but not outside it, the spirits of the blessed
gathered; from these high peaks they delighted to observe earthly
happenings; and when a pious soul tried to rise to them, these
succouring heroes, like our saints, could lend their aid and protection.

This philosophy did not draw its power of persuasion only from its
logical consistency, which satisfied reason, but it also made a strong
appeal to feeling. Posidonius caused a broad stream of mystical ideas,
undoubtedly derived from the beliefs developed by the astral religions
of the East, to flow into the arid bed of a Stoicism which had become
scholastic. For him, reason was not enclosed in the body, even when it
sojourned here below; it escaped from it to pass with marvellous
swiftness from the depths of the sea to the ends of the earth and the
top of the heavens; it flew through all nature, learning to know
physical laws and to admire the divine order ever more and more. Above
all it could never weary of the sight of the glowing constellations and
their harmonious movements. It felt with emotion, as it gave itself up
to contemplating them, its kinship with the celestial fires; it entered
into communion with the higher gods. In enthusiastic terms, echoed by
his imitators, Posidonius described the ecstasy which seized him who
left the earth, who felt himself transported to the midst of the sacred
chorus of the stars and who followed their rhythmic evolutions. In these
transports, the soul did not only win to infinite power, but also
received from heaven the revelation of the nature and cause of the
celestial revolutions. Thus even in this life it had a foretaste of the
beatitude which would belong to it after death when reason, rid of the
weak organs of the senses, would directly perceive all the splendours of
the divine world and would know its mysteries completely.[83]

This theology attributed to man a power such as to satisfy his proudest
feelings. It did not regard him as a tiny animalcule who had appeared on
a small planet lost in immensity, nor did it, when he scrutinised the
heavens, crush him with a sense of his own pettiness as compared with
bodies whose greatness surpassed the limits of his imagination. It made
man king of creation, placed him in the centre of a still limited world
of which the proportions were not so vast that he could not travel all
over his domain. If he could tear himself from the domination of his
body, he became capable of communicating with the visible gods who were
almost within his reach and whom he might hope to equal after his
passage here below. He knew himself to be united to them by an identity
of nature which alone explained how he understood them.

           “Quis caelum possit, nisi caeli munere, nosse
           Et reperire deum, nisi qui pars ipse Dei est?”[84]

“Who could know heaven save by heavenly grace, or find God if he were
not himself a part of God?”—words of the Roman poet who echoes
Posidonius’ teaching.

                  *       *       *       *       *

It is easy to understand that such ideas were readily adopted at a time
when human minds, tired of inconclusive disputes, despaired of ever
reaching truth by their own strength. The astral mysticism eloquently
preached by Posidonius was to influence all the later Stoicism. Seneca
in particular, in the numerous passages in which he speaks of the misery
and baseness of life in the body and celebrates the felicity of the pure
souls who live among the stars, shows the imprint of the philosopher of
Apamea. And this philosopher also exerted a far-reaching action beyond
the narrow circle of the school. The erudition of the antiquarian Varro,
the poems of Virgil and Manilius and the biblical exegesis of Philo the
Jew, all drew on him for inspiration. But the author in whom we can best
discern his influence is his pupil Cicero, the abundance of whose
writings allows us to follow the evolution of his thought, which is
characteristic of the whole society of his time.

It is beyond doubt that Cicero was an agnostic for the greater part of
his life. His mind found satisfaction in the scepticism of the New
Academy, or rather he adopted towards the future life the received
attitude of the world in which he lived, where the problem of the soul’s
origin and destiny was regarded as not only insoluble but also idle, as
unworthy to absorb the minds of men who should devote their energies to
the service of the state. The question of the cult to be rendered to the
Manes had been settled once for all by the ancient pontifical law. Old
Rome distrusted speculations as to the Beyond because they dangerously
diverted thought from actual realities. But Cicero, by his study of the
writings of his master Posidonius and by his intercourse with the
senator Nigidius Figulus, a fervent adept of Pythagorism,[85] had been
brought into contact with the stream of mystical ideas which was
beginning to flow through the West. Gradually, as he grew older and life
brought him disappointments, his thought was more attracted to religious
ideas.[86] In 54, when he had given up political life, he composed the
_Republic_, an imitation of Plato’s work on the same subject. As Plato
had introduced the myth of Er the Armenian at the end of his work, so
his Roman imitator concludes with the puzzling picture of “Scipio’s
Dream,” where the destroyer of Carthage receives the revelations of the
conqueror of Zama. The hero, from the height of the celestial spheres,
expounds that doctrine of astral immortality which was common to the
Pythagoreans and to Posidonius. It is given as yet only as a dream, a
vision the truth of which is in no way guaranteed. But in 45 B. C.
Cicero suffered a cruel loss in the death of his only daughter Tullia.
His grief persuaded him that this beloved being still lived among the
gods. Even while he accused himself of unreasonable weakness, he ordered
that not a tomb but a chapel (_fanum_), consecrating her apotheosis,
should be raised to this young woman. The letters he wrote at this time
to Atticus, from the shores of the Pomptine Marshes, in the solitude of
Astura, apprise us of his most intimate feelings. He gave vent to his
sorrow in writing a _Consolatio_, and in its preserved fragments we see
him strangely impressed by the Pythagorean doctrines: he speaks of the
soul, exempt from all matter, as celestial and divine and therefore
eternal, of the soul’s life here below as a penalty inflicted on it
because it is born to expiate anterior crimes (_scelerum luendorum

Cicero’s sensitive spirit, troubled by the perplexing problem of our
destiny, did not turn to the old discredited beliefs but to the new
conceptions which a mystical philosophy had brought from the East.
_Hortensius_ and the _Tusculans_, written in this period of his life,
show us the empire which the Neo-Stoicism of his master and the
Neo-Pythagorism of his fellow-senator then exercised over his mind,
saddened and disillusioned as he was, and show us too how he sought
consolation for the private and public ills which were overwhelming him
in the luminous doctrine of a blissful survival.

This spiritual evolution is an image of the great change which was about
to take place in the Roman world.

                  *       *       *       *       *

Stoic philosophy, although its maxims had been popularised by education
and literature, was almost as incapable of exercising a wide influence
on the deep masses of the people as the esoteric theosophy revealed in
the aristocratic conventicles of the Pythagoreans. The urban “plebs,” to
which slavery and trade had given a strong admixture of Eastern blood,
and the peasants of the rural districts, where the gaps caused by
depopulation were filled up by a foreign labour supply, were beginning
at the end of the Republican period to hear new dogmas preached, dogmas
which were winning an ever increasing number of believers. The ancient
national cults of Greece and Rome aimed above all at ensuring civic
order and earthly welfare, and paid small regard to the spiritual
perfection of individuals and their eternal future. But now exotic cults
claimed to reveal the secret of immortality to their adepts.[87] The
Oriental mysteries, propagated in the West, united in the promise of
securing holiness in this life and felicity in the next, while they
imparted to their initiates the knowledge of certain rites and required
submission to certain precepts. Instead of the fluctuating and
disputable beliefs of philosophers as to destiny in the Beyond, these
religions gave certainty founded on divine revelation and on the faith
of countless generations attached to them. The truth, which the
mysticism of the thinkers looked to find in direct communication with
heaven, was here warranted by a venerable tradition and by the daily
manifestations of the gods adored. The belief in life beyond the grave,
which had in ancient paganism been so vague and melancholy, was
transformed into confident hope in a definite beatitude. Participation
in the occult ceremonies of the sect was an infallible means of finding
salvation. A society that was weary of doubt received these promises
eagerly, and the old beliefs of the East combined with an eclectic
philosophy to give a new eschatology to the Roman Empire.

The salvation ensured by the mysteries was conceived as identification
with the god venerated in them. By virtue of this union the initiate was
reborn, like this god, to new life after he had perished, or, like him,
escaped from the fatal law of death which weighs on humanity. He was
“deified” or “immortalised,” after he had taken part, as actor, in a
liturgical drama reproducing the myth of the god whose lot was thus
assimilated to his own. Purifications, lustrations and unctions,
participation in a sacred banquet, revelations, apparitions and
ecstasies—a complicated series of ceremonies and instructions helped to
bring about this metamorphosis of the faithful whom a higher power
absorbed or penetrated with its energy. We shall return to this
sacramental operation which made pious souls equal to the divinity.[88]

There is another point on which, in the course of this historical
introduction, we must dwell a little longer, namely, the evolution
undergone by the conception of the Beyond taught in the different
mysteries and the share of philosophy in the transformation. For if in
the various sects the liturgy was usually preserved with scrupulous
fidelity, its theological interpretation varied considerably as time
passed. In paganism much doctrinal liberty was always combined with
respect for rites.

Some of the mysteries often gave in their beginnings a rather coarse
idea of the future life, and the pleasures which might be enjoyed
therein were very material. The ancient Greek conception, going back to
Orphism, was, as we have seen, that of a subterranean kingdom divided
into two contrasted parts—Tartarus where the wicked, plunged in a dark
slough or subjected to other pains, suffering the chastisement of their
faults, on the one side; on the other, the Elysian Fields, those
flowered, luminous meadows, gay with song and dance, in which the
blessed pursued their favourite occupations, whether they were allowed
to dwell there for ever, or whether they awaited there the hour fixed
for their rebirth on earth.[89] This eschatology, which had become the
common possession of the Hellenes, was certainly that of the mysteries
of Greece and in particular of the mysteries of Eleusis. But these
mysteries were never more than local religions: however numerous were
the initiates attracted by their renown, they were bound to the soil
where they were born. Thus their influence was very limited in the Roman
period and cannot be compared with that of the universal cults which
were propagated throughout the Mediterranean world. As for Orphism,
which was never connected with any one temple, it is doubtful whether it
still constituted an actual sect, and if it did, it certainly spread
over a very narrow field. Its influence was perpetuated chiefly because
it was absorbed by Pythagorism.

Among the mysteries propagated in the West, the most ancient were those
of the Thraco-Phrygian gods, Dionysos and Sabazios, who were indeed
looked upon as identical. We know that in 186 B. C. a _senatus
consultum_ forbade the celebration of the Bacchanalia in Italy, and in
139 some sectaries of Jupiter Sabazius, who identified this god with the
Jahve-Sabaoth of the Jews, were expelled from Rome by the praetor at the
same time as the “Chaldeans.” The cult practised by the votaries of
Bacchus or Liber Pater, whose confraternities were maintained until the
end of paganism, differed profoundly from the Dionysos worship of
ancient Greece: a number of Oriental elements had been introduced into
it; in particular, the relations between Dionysos and Osiris, which go
back to a very remote period, had become singularly close in Egypt.
However, many reliefs on tombstones and the celebrated paintings found
in the catacombs of Praetextatus prove that the cults of the
Thraco-Phrygian gods remained faithful to the old idea of a future life.
The shade went down into the bowels of the earth, never again to leave
them. If judged worthy, it took part in an eternal banquet, of which the
initiate received a foretaste on earth, in the feasts of the mysteries.
Sacred drunkenness, a divine exaltation, was the pledge of the joyous
intoxication which the god of wine would grant in Hades to the faithful
who had united themselves to him.[90]

In 205, towards the end of the second Punic war, the cult of Cybele, the
Great Mother of the Gods, and of Attis, her associate, was transported
from Pessinus in Phrygia and officially adopted by the Roman people. The
great feasts of this religion were celebrated in March about the equinox
and commemorated the death and resurrection of Attis, the emblem of
vegetation, which, after it has withered, flowers again in the spring.
The faithful associated their own destiny with the lot of their god:
like him they would be reborn to a new life after they had died. Their
doctrines on this point were certainly transformed as time passed, for
no Oriental cult which spread in the West underwent more evolution,
since none was more fundamentally barbarous when it came from Asia.
Originally, Cybele was the goddess of the dead, because Mother Earth
receives them into her bosom. Every Phrygian tomb is a sanctuary and its
epitaph a dedication: often the graves are consecrated to the goddess
and bear her image or that of the lion, her substitute. Often too the
tombstone has the shape of a door, the door of the subterranean world
whither the dead descend. The belief seems to have been held that the
deceased were absorbed in the Great Mother who had given them birth, and
that they thus participated in her divinity. She brought forth corn and
grapes for men and thus sustained them day by day, and the bread and
wine, taken in the meal which was the essential act of the initiation,
would ensure immortality to those who were of the mystery. “Thou givest
us the food of life with unfailing constancy,” says a prayer, “and when
our soul departs we will take refuge in thee. Thus all that thou givest,
always falls to thee again.”[91]

Towards the end of the Republic the mysteries of Isis and Serapis, which
had come from Alexandria and had already spread through the south of
Italy, established themselves in Rome and maintained themselves there in
spite of opposition from the senate. Under the Empire, the Egyptian
religion displayed all the pomp of its liturgy in magnificent temples
and had a number of votaries in every province. The cult of Osiris, of
which that of Serapis was a form, was originally a cult of the fields,
like that of Attis, and the great feast which its adherents celebrated
in autumn recalls the Phrygian spring feasts. The death of Osiris, whose
body had been torn to pieces by Seth, was mourned; and when Isis had
found the scattered fragments of the corpse, joined them together and
reanimated it, noisy rejoicing followed the lamentation. Like the
initiates of Cybele and Attis, those of Isis and Serapis were associated
with the passion and resurrection of their god. And, in the same way,
the oldest conception of immortality in these mysteries was that the
departed went down into the infernal regions, where a man became another
Serapis, a woman another Isis, which is to say that they were
assimilated to the gods who had granted them salvation.[92] This is why
on numerous funeral reliefs the dead man, who has become a hero and is
shown lying on a couch, bears on his head the bushel (_modius_) which is
the attribute of Serapis. In consequence, however, of the identification
of this god with Dionysos, the joys beyond the grave are also
represented as a feast in the Elysian Fields at which the great master
of banquets presides.[93]

All these mysteries conceive immortality as a descent of the dead into
Hades. For them, the kingdom of the dead lies in the bosom of the earth.
Those who have been initiated will there enjoy a felicity made up of
purely material pleasures, or they will be identified with the powers
who reign over the nether world and will have part in their divine life.
It will be noticed how closely this last conception approached to that
of ancient Stoicism, according to which the various parts of the human
organism, dissociated by death, were to regain their integrity in the
divine elements of the universe.

Quite another doctrine was propagated by the Syrian cults and the
Persian mysteries of Mithras, which spread in the West in the first
century of our era. These religions taught that the soul of the just man
does not go below the ground but rises to the sky, there to enjoy divine
bliss in the midst of the stars in the eternal light. Only the wicked
were condemned to roam the earth’s surface, or were dragged by the
demons into the dusky depths in which the spirit of evil reigned.
Opinions differed as to the region of heaven in which the souls of the
elect dwelt. The “Chaldeans,” who looked upon the sun as the master and
the intelligence of the universe, made him the author of human reason,
which returned to him after it had left the body, while for the priests
of Mithras the spirit rose, by way of the planetary spheres, to the
summit of the heavens. We will have to examine later the different forms
of astral immortality.[94] But you will already have noticed how nearly
this immortality, as formulated by the Iranian and Semitic sects,
approximated to the doctrine taught by Pythagorism and adopted by

This meeting of the two doctrines was not an effect of chance. The idea
that souls are related to the celestial fires, whence they descend at
birth and whither they reascend at death, had probably been borrowed by
the ancient Pythagoreans from the astral religions of the East. Recent
research seems to have established the fact of its Chaldeo-Persian
origin. But the Greek philosophers, according to their wont, defined and
developed this idea in an original way. In the Hellenistic period, when
they adopted astrology, they were subject for the second time to the
ascendancy of the scientific religion of the “Chaldeans”; and, in their
turn, they reacted on the Oriental cults when these spread in the
Graeco-Roman world. We have sure evidence that the mysteries of Mithras
were, in particular, strongly affected by the influence of the
Pythagorean sect, which was itself organised like a kind of mystery. In
a more general way, philosophy introduced into the mysteries ethical
ideas and, instead of the purely ritualistic or rather magical means of
salvation, some moral requirements became necessary to earn immortality.

There is here a mass of actions and reactions of which the details
escape us; but we can form some idea of such a syncretism from the
remains of the theological writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus,
from the writings, that is, which are supposed to contain the
revelations of the Egyptian god Thot. This professedly Egyptian wisdom
includes a number of ideas and definitions which are characteristic of
Posidonius and Neo-Pythagorism. The Greek and the Egyptian elements are
so closely associated in it that it is very difficult to separate the
one from the other. We find another example of the same mixture in the
“Chaldaic Oracles,” which were probably composed about the year 200 of
our era and which became one of the sacred books of Neo-Platonism.
Unlike the Hermetic writings, this collection of verses does indeed seem
to have belonged to a sect practising an actual cult: its greater part
is taken up with mythology, and the fantastic mysticism of the East is
more prominent here than in the Hermetic lore, but the mind of the
compiler of these revelations was also penetrated by the ideas which the
Greek masters had widely circulated.

The tenet of astral immortality, which philosophy shared with the cults
emanating from Syria and Persia, imposed itself on the ancient world. It
is curious to notice how it was introduced into the theology of the very
mysteries to which it was at first foreign: Attis ended by becoming a
solar god, and thenceforward it was in the heights of heaven that Cybele
was united to the souls she had prevented from wandering in darkness and
had saved from hell. The priests of the Alexandrian divinities were
similarly to explain that the dead had not their dwelling in the
interior of our globe, but that the “subterranean” (ὑπόγειος) kingdom of
Serapis was situated beneath the earth, that is, in the lower hemisphere
of heaven, bounded by the line of the horizon.[95]

According as the Oriental religions were more largely propagated, faith
in a new eschatology spread gradually among the people; and although
memories and survivals of the old belief in the life of the dead in the
grave and the shade’s descent into the infernal depths may have
lingered, the doctrine which predominated henceforward was that of
celestial immortality.

The distance separating the age of Augustus from that of the Flavians on
this point can be measured by reading Plutarch’s moral works (about 120
A. D.). A constant preoccupation with religious matters, and in
particular a learned curiosity as to the cults of the East, shows itself
in this Greek of Chaeronea, living in a country which, in its pride in
its own past, had more than any other resisted the invasion of
exoticism. Further, the eclectic philosopher likes to insert in his
dissertations myths in which, after the fashion of Plato, he expounds
the lot of souls in the Beyond and their struggle to rise heavenwards.
An attempt has been made to prove—wrongly, I think—that he is here
inspired by Posidonius. These apocalyptic visions, which claim to reveal
truths previously ignored, are not taken from that well-known writer;
they have a religious imprint which betrays sacerdotal influence, and
the philosophic ideas they contain are those which were part of the
common wisdom of the Pythagoreans and the mysteries.

There doubtless still were in the second century Stoics, like the
Emperor Marcus Aurelius, for whom the future life was a mere hypothesis,
or at most a hope (p. 14), as well as sceptics, like Lucian of Samosata,
whose irony mocked all beliefs. But gradually their number diminished
and the echo of their voices grew feebler. Faith in survival deepened as
present life came to seem a burden harder and harder to bear. The
pessimistic idea that birth is a chastisement and that the true life is
not that passed on earth, imposed itself in proportion to the growth of
public and private ills and to the aggravation of the empire’s social
and moral decline. In the period of violence and devastation which
occurred in the third century, there was so much undeserved suffering,
there were so many unjust failures and unpunished crimes, that men took
refuge in the expectation of a better life in which all the iniquity of
this world would be retrieved. No earthly hope then brightened life. The
tyranny of a corrupt bureaucracy stifled every attempt at political
progress. Science seemed exhausted and no longer discovered unknown
truths; art was struck with sterility of invention and reproduced
heavily the creations of the past. An increasing impoverishment and a
general insecurity constantly discouraged the spirit of enterprise. The
idea spread that humanity was smitten by incurable decay, that society
was on the road to dissolution and the end of the world was impending.
All these causes of discouragement and pessimism must be remembered in
order to understand the dominance of the old idea, then so often
repeated, that a bitter necessity constrains the spirit of man to
enclose itself in matter, and that death is a liberation which delivers
it from its carnal prison. In the heavy atmosphere of a period of
oppression and powerlessness, the despondent souls of men aspired with
ineffable ardour to the radiant spaces of heaven.

                  *       *       *       *       *

The mental evolution of Roman society was complete when Neo-Platonism
took upon itself the office of directing minds. The powerful mysticism
of Plotinus (205–262 A. D.) opened up the path which Greek philosophy
was to follow until the world of antiquity reached its end. We shall not
undertake to notice in this place the discrepancies of the latest
teachers who theorised about the destiny of souls. In the course of
these lectures we shall have occasion to quote some of the opinions of
Porphyry, the chief disciple of Plotinus, and of his successor
Jamblichus, who was, like himself, a Syrian. We will here do no more
than indicate broadly what distinguished the theories of this school
from those which had hitherto been dominant.

The system generally accepted, by the mysteries as by philosophy, was a
pantheism according to which divine energy was immanent in the universe
and had its home in the celestial spheres. The souls, conceived as
material, could in consequence rise to the stars but did not leave the
world. The Neo-Pythagoreans themselves had not had a very firmly
established doctrine on this point: while some of them stated that
reason was incorporeal, others, as we have seen (p. 24), admitted with
the Stoics that it was an igneous substance. It is true that even in
paganism the appearance can be discerned of the belief in a Most High
(Ὕψιστος) or an unknown god Ἄγνωστος, whom some people supposed to dwell
above the starry heavens, beyond the limits of the world, and towards
whom pious spirits could rise. The revivers of Platonic idealism
asserted the transcendence of God and the spirituality of the soul more
strongly and clearly. A whole chapter of the _Enneades_ of Plotinus is
taken up with refuting those who held the soul to be material.[96] As a
principle of life and movement, it is stated to be immortal by its very
essence, so that if it kept its purity perfect, it would find after its
passage here below eternal felicity in the intelligible world.

The Neo-Platonists preserved the idea, which had previously been
admitted, that this intellectual essence comes down to earth through the
planetary spheres and the atmosphere, and that as it sinks in the
luminous ether and the damp air, it becomes laden with particles of the
elements through which it passes. It surrounds itself with a garment or,
as it is sometimes called, with a vehicle (ὄχημα) which thickens as it
gradually draws near us.[97] This subtle body, the seat of the passions
and of feeling, is intermediary between the spiritual principle which
has issued from God and the flesh in which it is to enclose itself, and
for certain philosophers it survives death and accompanies the soul to
the Beyond, at least if the soul, not being free from earthly admixture,
cannot wholly leave the world of sense, and therefore rises only to the
planetary circle or to that of the fixed stars.

When the soul has suffered even more from the taint to which its contact
with matter, the source of evil, exposes it, it is doomed to reincarnate
itself in a new body and again to undergo the trial of this life. When
it has become incurably corrupt and burdened with evil, it goes down
into the depths of Hades.

Following Plato, Plotinus and his successors have adopted the
Pythagorean doctrine of metempsychosis. They have even developed it, as
we shall see,[98] together with the whole pessimistic and ascetic
conception of life, the conception which looks at birth as a pain and a
fall, a temporary subjection to a body from which emancipation must be
sought. It is only after this liberation that the soul can reach perfect
wisdom; it must no longer be troubled by the senses if it is to attain
to the end of existence, to union with God.

This union can be realised even during this life in moments of ecstasy,
in which the soul rises above thought and gives itself up entirely to
love for the ineffable Unity in which it is absorbed. Like many other
mystics, Plotinus disdains the ceremonies of positive cults: they were
superfluous to the sage who could of himself enter into communion with
the supreme Being. But even his disciple Porphyry conceded a greater
value to rites and initiations. If they were powerless to lead the
partakers of mysteries to the highest degree of perfection, their effect
yet was to render men worthy to live among the visible gods who people
heaven.[99] But only philosophical wisdom could rise to the intelligible
world and the Unknowable.

The principle of a mystical relation between man and the divinity was to
lead Neo-Platonism to more and more reverence for religious traditions.
For it was held that in the past the revelation of truth had been
granted by Heaven not only to divine Plato and the sages of Greece, but
to all the founders of barbarous cults and authors of sacred writings.
They all communicated profound teaching, which they sometimes hid
beneath the veil of allegory. Inspired by the symbolism of the
Pythagoreans, the last representatives of Greek philosophy claimed to
rediscover the whole of Platonic metaphysics and the Platonic doctrine
of immortality in the myths and rites of paganism. The speeches of
Julian the Apostate on the Sun-King and the Mother of the Gods are
characteristic examples of this bold exegesis, destitute of all critical
and even all common sense, which was adopted by the last champions of
the old beliefs.

                  *       *       *       *       *

These aberrations of Neo-Platonic thought must not hide the school’s
historical importance from us, any more than the excesses of the
superstitious theurgy which invaded it. When it revived Plato’s
idealism, it produced a lasting change in the eschatological ideas which
prevailed in paganism, and it deeply influenced even the Christian
doctrines of immortality held since the fourth century. This will be
better seen, we hope, in the course of these lectures.[100] It may be
said that the conception of the lot of souls which reigned at the end of
antiquity persisted on the whole through the Middle Ages—the immaterial
spirits of the just rising through the planetary spheres to the Supreme
Being enthroned above the zone of the fixed stars; the posthumous
purification of those whom life has sullied in a purgatory intermediary
between heaven and hell; the descent of the wicked into the depths of
the earth where they suffered eternal chastisement. This threefold
division of the universe and of souls was largely accepted at the time
of the Empire’s decline by pagans and by Christians, and after long
centuries it was again to find magnificent expression in Dante’s “Divine
Comedy.” Before it could be destroyed astronomy had to destroy the whole
cosmography of Posidonius and Ptolemy on which it was based. When the
earth ceased to be the centre of the universe, the one fixed point in
the midst of the moving circles of the skies, and became a tiny planet
turning round another heavenly body, which itself moved in the immensity
of space, among an infinity of similar stars, the naïve conception
formed by the ancients of the journey of souls in a well-enclosed world
could no longer be maintained. The progress of science discredited the
convenient solution bequeathed to scholasticism by antiquity, and left
us in the presence of a mystery of which the pagan mysteries never had
even a suspicion.


                         AFTER LIFE IN THE TOMB

When Cicero in his _Tusculans_[101] first touches on the question of the
immortality of the soul, he begins by citing in its support the fact
that belief in it has existed since earliest antiquity. He states that
unless the first Romans were convinced that man was not reduced to
nought, when he left this life, and that all feeling was not
extinguished in death, there could be no explanation of the rules of the
old pontifical law as to funerals and burials, rules the violation of
which was regarded as an inexpiable crime. This remark is that of a very
judicious observer. There subsist in the funeral rites of all peoples,
in the ceremony of mourning established by the religious law or by
tradition, customs which derive from archaic conceptions of life beyond
the tomb and which are still followed although their original meaning is
no longer understood. Modern learning has sometimes successfully sought
to elucidate them, borrowing light from the practices of savage peoples
and from European folk-lore. We will not enter the domain of these
researches, for since our special purpose here is to expound the ideas
as to immortality held in later times, we have to consider only the
beliefs which were still alive in that period. A false interpretation
supplied by a philosopher may have more historical value for us than the
true explanation of an institution which had lost its meaning.

But even among the ideas which were neither obliterated nor discredited,
conceptions which originated at very different dates have to be

The doctrines of paganism, like the soil of our planet, are formed of
superimposed strata. When we dig into them we discover successive layers
under the upper deposits of recent alluvia. Nothing was suddenly
destroyed in ancient religions; their transformations were never
revolutionary. Faith in the past was not entirely abolished when new
ways of believing were formed. Contradictory opinions could exist side
by side for a long time without any shock being caused by their
disagreement; and it was only little by little and slowly that argument
excluded one way of thinking to give place to the other, while there
were always hardy survivals left, both in thought and in customs. Thus
the beliefs as to the future life which were current under the Roman
Empire present a singular mixture, coarse ideas going back to the
prehistoric period mingling with theories imported into Italy at a late

We will today examine the oldest of all the ways of considering survival
in the Beyond: life in the tomb.

                  *       *       *       *       *

Ethnology has proved that among all peoples the belief that the dead
continue to live in the tomb has reigned, and sometimes still reigns.
The primitive man, disconcerted by death, cannot persuade himself that
the being who moved, felt, willed, as he does, can be suddenly deprived
of all his faculties. The most ancient and the crudest idea is that the
corpse itself keeps some obscure sensitiveness which it cannot manifest.
It is imagined to be in a state like sleep. The vital energy which
animated the body is still attached to it and cannot exist without it.
This belief was so powerful in Egypt that it inspired a whole section of
the funeral ritual and called forth the infinite care that was taken to
preserve mummies. Even in the West it survived vaguely, and traces of it
might still be discovered today. Lucretius combats this invincible
illusion of men who, even while they affirm that death extinguishes all
feeling, keep a secret uneasiness as to the suffering which their mortal
remains may undergo and are frightened by the idea that their bodies may
be eaten by worms or carnivorous animals. They cannot separate
themselves from this prone body, which they believe is still their self.
Why, continues the poet, would it be more painful to be the prey of wild
beasts than to be burnt by the flame of the pyre, to freeze lying on the
icy slab of the grave or to be crushed by the weight of heaped-up
earth?[102] This very fear that the earth may weigh heavily on those who
are deposited in the grave shows itself among many peoples who inter
their dead, and was expressed in Rome by a formula so very usual that it
was recalled in epitaphs by initials only: “_S(it) t(ibi) t(erra)
l(evis)_,” “May earth be light for thee.” Until the Empire Stoic
philosophers could be found who upheld that the soul endures only for
the time for which the body is preserved.[103]

But experience proved that the corpse decomposed rapidly in the soil,
all that remained of it being a skeleton bereft of the organs of
sensation. When the custom of incineration, followed in Italy from the
prehistoric period, became practically general in Rome, the destruction
of the body took place regularly before the eyes of those present. Thus
men reached the belief that those near and dear to them, whom they
sometimes saw again in their dreams or seemed to feel beside them, who
were kept alive at least in memory, differed from the beings of flesh
and bones whom they had known. From those material individuals subtle
elements detached themselves, filled with a mysterious force which
subsisted when the human organism had crumbled to dust or been reduced
to ashes. It was this same principle which temporarily departed from
persons who lost consciousness in a faint or a lethargy. If this light
essence did not leave a dying man at the moment of his death—whether or
not it could escape from his body immediately was indeed uncertain—it
was set free by the funeral fire,[104] but it still inhabited the tomb
in which his remains rested. The idea that it was somehow attached to
his remains had taken root in men’s minds, and even literature bears
witness to the persistence of this deeply implanted popular belief.
Propertius,[105] when cursing a woman, desires that “her Manes may not
be able to settle near her ashes.” And at Liternum in Campania, where
Scipio Africanus caused himself to be buried because, as he said, he did
not wish to leave even his bones to his ungrateful country, the grotto
was shown where he rested and where, so men believed,[106] “a serpent
kept guard over his Manes.”

This primitive conception of the persistence of a latent life in the
cold and rigid corpse or of its passage to a vaporous being like the
body, is connected with the belief that the dead retain all the needs
and feelings which were previously theirs. The funeral cult, celebrated
at the tomb, is born of this belief. It proceeds from fear as much as
from piety, for the dead are prone to resentment and quick in vengeance.
The unknown force which inhabits them, the mysterious power which causes
them to act, inspired great awe. If the natural course of their
existence had been interrupted, especially if they had died before their
time, they were suspected of being victims of some mischievous
enchantment; their sickness was looked upon as an invasion of maleficent
spirits provoked by spells. The wrath of those who had thus been torn
from their homes and their wonted way of life was to be dreaded. Loud
outbursts of grief followed by prolonged manifestations of mourning must
prove to them, in the first place, that they were truly lamented and
that no attempt had been made to get rid of them. Then, in their new
abode to which they were conveyed, they must be ensured a bearable
existence, in order that they might remain therein quietly and not
trouble their families nor punish, by some intrusion, those who
neglected them. Solicitude for the beloved, the desire to prevent their
suffering, the hope of obtaining their protection, partly account for
the origin and maintenance of these practices, but they were above all
inspired by the terror which spirits called forth, as is proved by the
fact that they were the same for all the departed without distinction,
for those who had been loved and those who had been hated.

The tomb is the house of the dead. This is an idea common to the whole
ancient world, going back in Italy beyond the foundation of Rome. The
prehistoric cemeteries of the first iron age have yielded a number of
cinerary urns exactly reproducing the various types of huts which
sheltered the tribes who then peopled the peninsula. The burial places
of the Etruscans are often on the plan of their dwellings, and Roman
epitaphs leave no doubt as to the persistence of the conviction that the
dead inhabit the tomb. The diffusion of Oriental cults revived archaic
beliefs on this point as on many others. The name “eternal house”
(_domus aeterna_), borrowed from the Egyptians and the Semites, often
occurs in funeral inscriptions of the imperial period.[107] One text
even specifies that this is “the eternal house in which future life must
be passed.”[108] The tomb is thus no mere passage through which the soul
goes on its way to another region of the world; it is a lasting
residence. “This,” says an inscription, “is our certain dwelling, the
one which we must inhabit.”[109] In the _Aeneid_, a cenotaph is raised
to Polydorus, whose body had been lost, and his “soul” is installed
there by a funeral ceremony,[110] for the shade which has no sepulchre
wanders, as we shall see, about the earth. But when a fine monument is
given to a dead man, he is happy to be able to offer hospitality there
to passers-by and invites them to stay on their way. Sometimes he is
imagined as in a bedchamber, where he sleeps an endless sleep,[111] but
this is not the primitive nor the dominant idea. This idea, on the
contrary, was that his rest was at least not unbroken, since he had many
requirements. It was necessary not only to ensure him a roof but also to
provide for his support, for he had the same needs and tastes beneath
the ground as he had upon it. Therefore the clothes which covered him,
the jewels which adorned him, the earthen or bronze vessels which decked
his table, the lamps which afforded him light, would be placed beside
him. If he were a warrior he would be given the arms he bore, if a
craftsman the tools he used; a woman would have the articles necessary
to her toilet, a child the toys which amused him; and the amulets, by
the help of which all that was maleficent would be kept away, were not
forgotten. “It is against common sense,” says Trimalchio in Petronius’
romance,[112] “to deck the house of the living and not to give the same
care to the house which we must inhabit for a longer time.” In fact, the
larger number of the articles of furniture and household use preserved
in our museums come from tombs, which, in the climate of Egypt, have
sometimes been able to yield up to us, intact, some precious volume
intended for a mummy’s bedside book.

But the tombs have kept for us only a small part of the offerings made
to those who were leaving this world, for often their wardrobe and
implements were delivered with them to the flame of the pyre in the
belief that somehow they would find them again in the Beyond. Lucian
relates that a husband loved his wife so dearly that at her death he
caused all the ornaments and the clothes which she liked to wear to be
buried with her. But seven days after her death, as, stretched on a
couch, he was silently reading Plato’s _Phaedo_, seeking therein solace
for his grief, his wife appeared, seated herself beside him, and
reproached him for not having added to his offering one of her gilt
slippers which had been left behind a chest. The husband found it there,
and hastened to burn it in order that the poor woman might no longer
remain half barefooted.[113]

Above all, the dead must be offered food, for the shade, like the human
body which it replaces, needs nourishment for its subsistence. Its
feeble and precarious life is quickened and prolonged only if it be
constantly sustained. The dead are hungry; above all they are thirsty.
Those whose humours have dried, whose mouths have withered, are tortured
by the need to refresh their parched lips. It therefore is not enough to
place in the tombs the drinks and dishes, the remains of which have
often been found beside skeletons; by periodic sacrifices the Manes must
be supplied with fresh food also. If they are left without nourishment
they languish, weak as a fasting man, almost unconscious, and in the end
they would actually die of starvation. This is why the flesh of victims
was, in funeral sacrifices, wholly destroyed by fire, none of it being
reserved for those present. People always retained the conviction that
the offerings burnt on the altar or the libations poured into the grave
were consumed by him for whom they were intended. Often there is in the
tombstone a circular cavity, the bottom of which is pierced with holes;
the liquid poured into it went through the perforated slab and was led
by a tube to the urn which held the calcinated bones. It is
comprehensible that an unbeliever protested against this practice in his
epitaph. “By wetting my ashes with wine thou wilt make mud,” he says,
“and I shall not drink, when I am dead.”[114] But how many other texts
there are which show the persistence of the ancient ideas! “Passer-by,”
says a Roman inscription, “the bones of a man pray thee not to soil the
monument which covers them; but if thou be benevolent pour wine into the
cup, drink and give me thereof.”[115]

If the dead ask for fresh water, with which to quench their insatiable
thirst, they are above all eager for the warm blood of victims. This
sacrifice to the dead was at first often a human sacrifice of slaves or
prisoners, and barbarous immolations of this kind had not entirely
disappeared even in the historic period. When, after the taking of
Perugia, Octavius, on the Ides of March (that is, on the anniversary of
the slaying of Julius Caesar), caused three hundred notables of the town
to be slaughtered on Caesar’s altar,[116] this collective murder,
inspired by political hatred, perpetuated an old religious tradition.
Fights of gladiators, whose blood drenched the soil, originally formed
part of the funeral ceremonies by which the last duty was paid to the
remains of an illustrious personage. It is said that these sacrifices
were intended to provide him who had gone to the other world with
servants and companions, as the offering of a horse gave him a steed, or
else that, in case of violent death, they were meant to appease the
shade of a victim who claimed vengeance. And doubtless these ideas,
which correspond to conceptions already evolved, contributed to keeping
this cruel custom in force. But originally the object of this sacrifice,
as of the sacrifice of animals, was essentially to ensure the duration
of the undefinable something which still inhabited the tomb.

Among all the peoples of antiquity the blood was looked upon as the seat
of life;[117] the vapour which rose from the warm red liquid, flowing
from a wound, was the soul escaping therewith from the body; and
therefore when blood was sprinkled on the soil which covered the remains
of a relative or a friend, a new vitality was given to his shade. With
the same motive women were wont to scratch their faces with their nails
in sign of mourning.[118] This ancient conviction that fresh blood was
indispensable to the dead, was maintained in some countries with
surprising tenacity. In Syria, as late as the seventh century of our
era, Christians insisted, in spite of episcopal objurgations, on
immolating bulls and sheep on tombs, and in Armenia, where these
practices were sanctioned by the national clergy, the faithful remained
persuaded that the dead found no happiness in the other life unless the
blood of victims had been made to flow for them on the days fixed by

Other libations performed in the funeral rites of the Greeks, as of the
Romans, were intended to produce the same effect, the libations, namely,
of wine, milk and honey. The use of wine has been explained as that of a
substitute for blood, as wine is red. Servius even interprets the purple
flowers which Aeneas threw on the tomb of his father Anchises by the
same association of ideas, as an “imitation of blood in which is the
seat of life.”[120] Many proofs could be cited of the fact that wine has
often taken the place of the liquid which flows in our veins, but its
use in connection with the dead can be explained also by its own virtue.
It is the marvellous liquid which gives divine drunkenness and which in
the mysteries ensures immortality to such as are, thanks to this sacred
draught, possessed by Bacchus.[121] In the same way it vivifies the
Manes to whom it is poured out. Similarly _melikraton_, a mixture of
milk and honey, is the food of the gods, and when the dead absorb it,
they too become immortal.

Such is the first meaning of these offerings, one which was never quite
forgotten. Their object is the infusion of new vigour into the enfeebled
shades who slumber in the tomb. This intention can also be discerned in
the fact that the same offerings are used in magic, which often
preserved ideas abolished or superseded in religion. In order to evoke
the phantoms, the necromancers dug a ditch and poured blood, wine, milk
and honey into it. These liquids had an exciting effect on the spirits
of the dead, arousing them from their torpor, and the wizard took
advantage of it to question them.

Precautions lest the dead should ever suffer from lack of nourishment
were multiplied. In order that they might be fed on other days than
those of sacrifices, all over the ancient world it was customary to
place food on their tombs—eggs, bread, beans, lentils, salt, flour, with
wine. Hungry vagrants did not always respect their offerings but would
help themselves to the proffered viands.

                  *       *       *       *       *

The institution which is most characterised by the persistence of the
ancient ideas of life in the tomb is however that of the funeral
banquets. These family repasts, which had previously been celebrated
among the Etruscans, took place in Rome on the grave immediately after
the funeral (_silicernium_) and were repeated on the ninth day following
(_cena novemdialis_). In Greece and in the East the ceremony took place
thrice, on the third, ninth and thirtieth or on the third, seventh and
fortieth day. Everywhere it was subsequently renewed every year on the
anniversary of the death and on several other fixed dates, as on that of
the _Rosalia_ in May, on which it was customary to decorate the tombs
with roses. Memorial monuments of some importance are often found to
include, beside the burial chamber, a dining-room (_triclinium_) and
even a kitchen (_culina_). The importance attached to these meals is
proved by several wills which have been preserved, and which make
considerable endowments to ensure their perpetuity. For instance, at
Ravenna a son bequeaths a sum of money to a college on condition that
its members annually scatter roses on his father’s grave and feast there
on the Ides of July.[122] When Aurelius Vitalio had built at Praeneste a
family tomb, surmounted by a room with a terrace, he wrote a letter in
incorrect Latin to the brothers of the society to which he belonged: “I
ask you, my companions, to refresh yourselves here without
quarrelling.”[123] An African settled in Rome similarly writes to his
relatives and friends, “Come here in good health for the feast, and
rejoice together.”[124] And in Gaul a will commands that the burial
vault be furnished and receive a bed with coverings and cushions for the
guests who have to meet on the memorial days.[125]

These funeral repasts go back to a prehistoric antiquity. They are found
in India and in Persia as well as among the European peoples. They are
doubtless as ancient as wedding and festal banquets. Among the Egyptians
and the Etruscans it was even customary to place the representation of a
perpetual feast on the walls of a tomb in order to secure to the dead
person the relief it gave. The shade of a guest might well be pleased
with the likeness of dishes.

It was believed that at funeral feasts the Manes of ancestors came to
sit among the guests and enjoyed with them the abundance of the food and
wines. Lucian tells of repasts of this kind, which he witnessed in
Egypt, at which the dried mummy was invited to eat and drink at the
table of his kin.[126] In Greece, even in the Roman period, those
present at the feast used to summon the dead to it by name. An epitaph
of Narbonne jokingly expresses the vulgar idea as to the participation
of the deceased in the banquet: “I drink and drink again, in this
monument,” says the dead man, “the more eagerly because I am obliged to
sleep and to dwell here.”[127]

Nothing is further from our spiritual ideas as to the holiness of
graveyards than the conviviality occasioned by the cult of the departed;
among the guests crowned with flowers, the drinks went round
(_circumpotatio_) and soon produced a noisy intoxication. Do not think
this was an abuse due to a relaxation of morals and which came into
being in later times. The character of these funeral banquets was such
from the beginning, and such it has remained down to modern times in
many countries. You all know the practice of the Irish “wake” which has
been preserved even in the United States.

For it was long believed that the dead had their part in the merriness
and inebriation of the companions at table and were thus consoled for
the sadness of their lot. “Thou callest,” says Tertullian,[128] “the
dead careless (_securos_) when thou goest to the tombs with food and
delicacies, but thy real purpose is to make offerings to thyself, and
thou returnest home tipsy.” And indeed, as we shall see,[129] these
feasts were no longer of profit to the dead only but to the living also,
because there came to be a confusion between them and the Bacchic
communions in which wine was a drink of immortality.

No religious ceremony was more universally performed in the most diverse
regions of the Empire than this cult of the grave. At every hour of
every day families met in some tomb to celebrate there an anniversary by
eating the funeral meal. Peoples remained strongly attached to practices
the omission of which would have seemed to them dangerous as well as
impious, for the spirits of the dead were powerful and vindictive.

It is therefore not surprising that these practices persisted in the
Christian era in spite of the efforts of the clergy to suppress them.
St. Augustine reprimands those who, like pagans, “drink intemperately
above the dead”—these are his words—“and who, while serving meals to
corpses, bury themselves with these buried bodies, making a religion of
their greed and their drunkenness.”[130]

In the East, however, ecclesiastical authority tolerated a custom which
it could not uproot, contenting itself with forbidding the abuse of wine
and recommending a moderation the absence of which might often be
deplored. Ecclesiastical authority also insisted that a part of the
feast should be given to the poor, thus giving a charitable character to
the old pagan practice.[131] Therefore in many countries, and especially
in Greece and in the Balkans, the habit has survived to this day, not
only of placing food on tombs, but also of eating there on certain
anniversaries, with the idea that the dead in some mysterious way share
and enjoy the meal.

                  *       *       *       *       *

In Rome, in historical times, the funeral repast might be taken not at
the tomb but in the house. Among the feasts celebrated by the
confraternities in honour of some dead benefactor, on the dates fixed by
his last will, many were held in the meeting-place of the guild. But the
belief continued in the real presence of him whose “spirit was
honoured,”[132] and whose statue or picture often adorned the banqueting

From the earliest period, the spirit of the dead was indeed not regarded
as inseparable from his remains or as a recluse cloistered in the tomb.
He dwelt there but could issue thence, although for long it was believed
that he could not go far away but remained in the neighbourhood of the
burial place. He was brought back to it by the necessity of taking food,
which was no less indispensable to him than to men. He returned,
therefore, to it, as a dweller returns to his home, to repair his
energies and to rest. This idea that the soul wandered around its
“eternal house” often caused pains to be taken to surround this house
with a garden. Sometimes such a garden was planted with a practical
object: it was a vineyard, an orchard or a rose-garden which supplied
the wine, fruit or flowers necessary for the offerings to the dead.[133]
But elsewhere a mere pleasure-garden, with shady groves, bowers,
pavilions and sparkling fountains, surrounded the burial place. The care
which the living took to fix, by their will, its extent and its planting
is a measure of the intensity of their conviction that their shade would
take pleasure in refreshing itself in this quiet haunt. There, about the
tomb, it would enjoy the delights which would afterwards be transported
to the Elysian Fields, as we shall see later.

The cult of the grave has not ceased in these days; the ancient rites
have not been discontinued. Tombstones are still surrounded with
flowers; they are decked with wreaths; in Italy lamps are kept burning
over them. But the reasons which established these customs have
disappeared; for us they are no more than a way of betokening our care
for the beloved, of piously showing our intimate feelings by outward
signs and marking the duration of our regrets and our memories. They are
survivals which have lost all the concrete and real meaning which they
had in the far-off days when men believed that a being like themselves
sojourned in the place in which bones or ashes were deposited.

The dead were not then cut off from the society of the living; the
connection between them and their surroundings was not broken; the
continuity between the hour which preceded and that which followed their
decease was not interrupted. It has often been remarked that in this
respect ancient ideas were profoundly different from ours. Those lost to
sight did not then cease to partake of the life of their families; they
remained in communication with their friends and their kin, who met
together in their new dwelling, and an effort was made to render their
isolation less hard to bear by bringing them into touch with many
people. Our dead rest in peaceful and remote graveyards where no noise
or din may trouble the tranquil mood of afflicted visitors. The Romans
placed their dead along the great roads, near the gates of towns, where
there was press of passers-by and the rolling of chariot-wheels. Their
wish was not, when they buried them beside the most frequented highways,
to recall their destiny to mortals, although philosophers have thus
explained the custom.[134] On the contrary, they wanted to cause those
who were no more to forget their own destiny. “I see,” says an
epitaph,[135] “and I gaze upon all who go and come from and to the
city.” “Lollius has been placed,” we read elsewhere,[136] “by the side
of the road in order that all passers-by may say to him, ‘Good day,

The inscriptions in which the dead speak, addressing those who stop
before their monuments, are innumerable. They console such as continue
to love them, thank those who are still busy on their behalf and express
wishes for their happiness, or else they impart to their successors the
wisdom acquired by experience of life. Often they take part with them in
a dialogue, answering their greetings and wishes: “May the earth be
light on thee!”—“Fare thou well in the upper world”;[137] or else: “Hail
Fabianus.”—“May the gods grant you their benefits, my friends, and may
the gods be propitious to you, travellers, and to you who stop by
Fabianus! Go and come safe and sound! May you who crown me with garlands
or throw me flowers, live for many years!”[138]

                  *       *       *       *       *

Thus throughout antiquity, in spite of the evolution of ideas as to the
future life, the persuasion always remained invincible that the spirits
of the dead moved about among men. These disincarnate intelligences,
which were, however, provided with light and swift bodies, did not let
themselves be imprisoned in the tomb. They fluttered unceasingly around
living beings, causing them to feel the effects of their presence. There
is here, mingled with the primitive idea that a mysterious being, like
it in appearance, has its place in the ground beside the buried corpse,
the other and equally ancient idea that the soul is a breath exhaled by
the dead at the moment when they expire. To breathe is the first act
which marks the life of a newly born infant and to cease to breathe is
the first sign which betokens the extinction of life. Primitive people
therefore naturally thought that the principle which animated the body
was a breath, which entered it at birth and left it at death. The very
name which denotes the vivifying essence is in most languages witness to
the general predominance of this conception. Ψυχή in Greek is connected
with ψύχω, “to blow”; the Latin _animus_ or _anima_ corresponds to
ἄνεμος, “wind,” and in the Semitic languages _nefeš̱_ and _ruaḥ_ have a
similar meaning. At the moment in which man expired, his soul escaped
through his mouth and floated in the ambient air. The Pythagoreans, when
they taught that “the air is full of souls,”[139] were conforming to an
old belief which is not Greek only but universal. When Virgil[140] shows
us Dido’s sister, at the time of the queen’s suicide, receiving the last
breath which floats on her dying lips, he is lending a Roman custom to
the Carthaginians, the custom of the last kiss which, according to a
widely held belief, could catch on its way the soul which was escaping
into the atmosphere.

This soul was often imagined as a bird in flight and we will see
elsewhere the conclusions drawn from this naïve conception.[141] Here we
wish merely to indicate how the idea of the aerial soul was combined
with that of the spirit inhabiting the tomb. This shade or simulacrum of
those who were no longer of this world, but who still existed, since
they showed themselves to the living in their previous guise, was a body
like the wind—intangible, invisible, save when it thickened like clouds
or smoke. A multitude of these vaporous beings, innumerable as past
generations, moved unceasingly on the earth’s surface, and, above all,
roamed around the tombs, where they were retained by their attachment to
their bodies. Whether, like the Greeks, men identified them with the
“demons,” or, like the Romans, called them “Manes gods,” “_genii_” or
“_lemures_,” or by other names, the unanimous opinion was that their
power was superior to that of mankind and that they caused it to be felt
by a constant intervention in the affairs of human society.

It was generally held that if the required cult were not rendered them,
they would punish this neglect with wrath, but that they showed their
benevolence to those who deserved it by zeal in serving them.[142] The
dead were capable, like the living, of gratitude as well as of
resentment. The greater had been their power in this world, the more
considerable it remained in the other, and the more advantage there was
in securing their protection or even their co-operation.

Servius reports the existence of the singular belief that souls had to
swear to Pluto never to help those they had left behind them on earth to
escape from their destiny.[143] Such was, then, the extent of their
supposed power. But all the dead were not, like some of the heroes who
had become the equals of the gods, capable of performing prodigious
deeds. Many, gifted with less force, were concerned with lesser
interests; they did no more than protect their family, the domestic
hearth and the neighbouring field, and render small daily services.
“Farewell, Donata, thou who wast pious and just,” says an epitaph,
“guard all thy kin.”[144]

The idea that the ancestors become the tutelary spirits of their
descendants who were faithful to their duty to them, goes back to the
remotest antiquity and probably lies at the foundation of the cult of
the Lares.[145] But the field of action of these genii was multiple,
since they were a multitude, and their functions underwent a further
development when they were considered to be the equivalents of the
demons of the Greeks. “The souls of the dead,” Maximus of Tyre[146]
tells us, “mingle with all kinds of men, with every destiny, thought and
pursuit of man; they support the good, succour the oppressed and punish
the criminal.” Plotinus, recalling the universal custom of paying cult
to those who have gone, adds: “Many souls which belonged to men do not
cease to do good to men when they have left the body. They come to their
aid especially in granting them revelations.”[147]

The wish is therefore entertained to see in dreams those who have left
an empty place in the family dwelling or the marriage couch. A woman
whom a murder has separated from her young husband prays the most holy
Manes to be indulgent to him and to allow her to see him again during
the hours of the night.[148] But it was not only in dreams that men
hoped to descry again those who were lost to sight. “If tears are of any
avail,” says another epitaph, “show thyself by apparitions
(_visis_).”[149] Is it a question here also of nocturnal apparitions?
Perhaps; but the belief that the spirits of the dead returned to the
earth and made themselves visible to people who were wide awake met with
very little incredulity among the ancients. It was not only the common
man who accepted it; most thinkers upheld this opinion. Lucian[150]
shows us a meeting of philosophers in which no one doubts “that there
are demons and phantoms and that the souls of the dead do wander on
earth and show themselves to whom they please.” A single fact will
suffice to prove how general was this conviction. The sober historian
Dio Cassius[151] relates that in his time, more precisely in the year
220 A. D., a demon (who was evidently a flesh and blood impostor)
appeared in the Danubian countries in the form of Alexander the Great.
He was followed by four hundred Bacchantes carrying the thyrsus and the
nebris. This troop went through all Thracia without doing any harm to
the inhabitants, who hastened to give them shelter and food, and not a
single official dared oppose their passage. Arrived near Chalcedon, the
pseudo-Alexander made a strange sacrifice one night, burying a wooden
horse, and thereupon immediately disappeared.

Like modern spiritualists, the ancients saw in these apparitions an
irrefutable proof of the after life. “Thou who doubtest the existence of
the Manes,” we read on the tomb of two young girls, “invoke us after
making a vow and thou wilt understand.”[152] Revelations were indeed to
be expected of the wisdom of the disincarnate souls. In spite,
therefore, of the laws forbidding magic, necromancy never ceased to be
practised. By a nocturnal sacrifice, analogous to that offered on tombs
(p. 52) and by the virtue of their incantations, the wizards obliged the
dead to appear before them and answer their questions. The poets and
romancers liked to introduce in their works descriptions of the
atrocious ceremonies which were intended to give momentary life even to
a corpse and cause it to pronounce oracles.

The dead in these scenes often appear as restive and even hostile beings
who were forced to such actions by the power of witchcraft. The dominant
feeling among all peoples is indeed that the dead are unhappy and
therefore malevolent. They were believed to be excessively sensitive:
great care must be taken to do nothing to offend them. If their rights
were overlooked, if they were forgotten, they showed their wrath by
sending illnesses and scourges to the guilty. This unpleasant and
sometimes cruel, even ferocious character of the Manes is very marked in
Rome, perhaps in consequence of the influence of the Etruscans or the
beliefs concerning after life. A legend had it that the ceremonies of
the _Parentalia_ having on one occasion been omitted, the plaintive
ghosts scattered about the town and the fields and caused many
deaths.[153] What we know of the rites performed at the _Lemuria_ and at
funerals shows that they tended to protect the house against the spirits
haunting it and to rid it of them. “The dead are welcome neither to the
gods nor to men,” says an old Latin inscription.[154] To the family
_Lares_ who protected a household, the _larvae_ were opposed, the
wandering phantoms who spread terror and evil. “Spare thy mother, thy
father and thy sister,” we read on a tomb, “in order that after me they
may celebrate the traditional rites for thee.”[155] This hostile
character attributed to inhabitants of the tombs explains the custom of
placing in them leaden tablets on which curses were written calling down
the most frightful ills on enemies. A large number of these _tabellae
defixionum_ in Greek and Latin have been found and they prove the
frequency of this practice, which has perhaps an Oriental origin.[156]
But the _devotio_ to the Manes gods is an old Roman ceremony, which
proceeds from the idea that they endeavour to tear the living from the
earth and draw them to themselves.

                  *       *       *       *       *

There is one class of the dead which is peculiarly noxious, those namely
who have not been buried. The ideas connected with them are so
characteristic of the oldest conception of immortality that these ἄταφοι
_insepulti_ deserve to detain us for a few moments.

From the most ancient times the beliefs reigned among all the peoples of
antiquity that the souls of those who are deprived of burial find no
rest in the other life. If they have no “eternal house” they are like
homeless vagabonds. But the fact that the dead had been buried did not
suffice; their burial must also have been performed according to the
traditional rites. Perhaps the liturgical formulas were supposed to have
power to keep the shade in the tomb, as other incantations could summon
it thence. Above all, however, it was believed, as we have already
stated, that when the dead had not obtained the offerings to which they
had the right, they suffered and that their unquiet spirits fluttered
near the corpse and wandered upon the surface of the earth and the
waters, taking vengeance on men for the ills men had inflicted on them.

The denial of interment was thought to be the source of infinite torment
for the dead as for the living, and to throw earth on abandoned corpses
was a pious duty. The pontiffs, who believed the sight of a corpse made
them unclean, might not for all that leave it unburied if they happened
to find one on their way. To bury the dead has remained a work of mercy
in the Church, and in Rome a confraternity still exists which brings in
from far away the dead found lying in the desert Campagna. The pain
represented by lack of burial was the worst chastisement called down by
imprecations on enemies on whom vengeance was desired. Among believers
it gave rise to an anxiety comparable with that which the refusal of the
last sacrament now causes to Roman Catholics. In the Greek cities, as in
Rome, the law often condemned to it those who had committed suicide or
had been executed, hoping thus to divert desperate and outrageous men
from their fatal design by the apprehension of a wretched lot in the
Beyond.[157] Sometimes the law merely laid down that the guilty must not
be interred in the soil of their country, an almost equally terrible
penalty, since it cut them off from the family cult, by which their
descendants could give satisfaction to their Manes. When, therefore,
through some accident, a traveller or soldier died abroad or was
shipwrecked at sea, his body was, when possible, brought back to his
country, or, if this could not be done, a cenotaph was raised to him,
and his soul was summoned aloud to come and inhabit the dwelling
prepared for it. When cremation became general in Rome, the old
pontifical law invented another subterfuge which allowed the ancient
rites to be accomplished: a finger was cut from the body before it was
carried to the pyre, and earth was thrown three times on this “resected
bone” (_os resectum_).

Against these ancient beliefs, which were the source of so much anguish
and so many superstitions, the philosophers fought energetically. First
the Cynics and then the Epicureans and the Stoics endeavoured to show
their absurdity. They are fond of quoting the answer of Theodore the
Atheist to Lysimachus who was threatening him with death without
burial—“What matters it whether I rot on the earth or under it?” Since
the corpse was unconscious and without any sensibility, it was indeed of
no consequence whether it were burnt or buried, eaten by worms or by
crows. Why should it be a misfortune to die abroad? Only the living had
a country; the whole earth was the dwelling of the dead. If such cares
troubled men they were the victims of the invincible illusion that the
body retained capacity to feel even beyond the grave.

The very frequency with which these commonplaces of the school are
repeated shows how tenacious were the prejudices which they attempted to
eradicate. Here, as in other connections, the renewal of Pythagorism
supervened at the end of the Republic to favour the persistence of the
old beliefs. A doctrine, to which Plato alludes,[158] taught that souls
which had not been appeased by funeral rites, had to wander for a
hundred years, the normal term of a human life. Confined in the air near
the earth, they remained subject to the power of magicians. Especially
if the wizards had been able to obtain possession of some portion of the
corpse, whence the soul could not entirely detach itself, they gained
influence over it and could constrain its obedience. When this century
of suffering had elapsed, these souls were admitted to a place of
purification, where they sojourned ten times longer, and when these
thousand years had passed they returned to reincarnate themselves in new
bodies. We will see in another lecture[159] that the Pythagoreans
enunciated analogous theories as to the lot of children swept off before
their time and of men who died a violent death.

Virgil describing the descent of Aeneas into the infernal regions
recalls these Pythagorean speculations when he shows us the miserable
crowd of the unburied shades fluttering for a hundred years on the bank
of the Styx before they obtained from Charon their passage to its other

Favoured by these new tendencies of philosophy, the unreasoning
apprehension inspired by omission of burial subsisted under the Empire,
not only among the ignorant many, but also in the most enlightened
classes. This fear explains why everyone took extreme care to have a
tomb built for himself and to ensure, if he could, that funeral
ceremonies were celebrated in it, why many epitaphs threaten with
judicial penalties and divine punishments the sacrilegious offenders who
should violate the grave, and why such a number of popular colleges were
founded, of which the principal object was to secure decent obsequies to
their members. The rules of the _cultores_ of Diana and Antinoüs at
Lanuvium stipulate that when a slave dies and his master maliciously
refuses to deliver his body for burial, a “_funus imaginarium_” be made
for him, that is, that the ceremony be celebrated over a figure
representing the dead man and wearing his mask.[161] From this
“imaginary” burial effects were expected as beneficent as those results
are maleficent which a wizard anticipated when he fettered and pierced a
waxen doll to work a charm.

From the stories of the gravest writers we perceive what lot was
believed to threaten the unfortunate who were burnt or interred without
the rites being observed. After Caligula’s murder his corpse was hastily
shovelled into the ground in a garden on the Esquiline (_horti
Lamiani_), but then the keepers of this park were terrified by
apparitions until the imperial victim’s sisters caused his body to be
exhumed, and buried it in accordance with the sacred rules.[162] Pliny
the Younger in one of his letters seriously relates a story which seems
to have been often repeated, for we find it, little changed, in
Lucian.[163] There was in Athens a haunted house which remained empty,
no one daring to live in it because several of its tenants had died of
fright. In the silence of the night a noise was heard as of clanking
iron; then a horrible spectre moved forward in the shape of an emaciated
old man, bearded and hairy, rattling the chains which were about his
feet and legs. A philosopher dared to take this house, and he settled
himself there one evening, resolved to keep himself awake by working.
The ghost appeared to him, came towards him with its usual clatter,
signed to him to follow and disappeared in the courtyard. When daylight
came, a hole was dug in the place where the phantom had vanished, and a
skeleton in fetters was found. The bones were taken up and burned
according to the rites, and thereafter nothing troubled the quiet of the
house. Lucian, in his version of this ghost story, specifies the
philosopher as a Pythagorean and shows him repelling the apparition by
the virtue of his spells. The Pythagoreans were indeed often
necromancers, convinced defenders of spiritualism, in which, as we have
said (p. 62), they sought an immediate proof of the immortality of the
soul, and by their doctrines they contributed to keeping alive the
superstitious fear attached to omission of burial.

But they were no more than theorists as to a belief which was widespread
and which the invasion of Oriental magic was to revive. The
curse-tablets often evoke, together with other demons, “those who are
deprived of a sacred tomb” (ἄποροι τῆς ἱερᾶς ταφῆς).[164] They associate
them with those who have died before their time or by a violent
death.[165] Heliodorus[166] the romancer, a priest of Emesa in Syria,
who probably lived in the third century, pictures for us a very
characteristic scene: a child has been killed; a wizard takes its body,
places it between two fires, and performs a complicated operation over
it, in order to restore it to life by his incantations and to obtain a
prediction of the future. “Thou forcest me to rise again and to speak,”
the child complains, “taking no thought for my funeral and thus
preventing me from mingling with the other dead.” For the shades of the
nether world rejected one who had been left unburied.[167]

These ancient beliefs, which the East shared with the West, were, more
or less modified, to survive the downfall of paganism. If the Christians
of the first centuries no longer feared that they would go to join the
shades who wandered on the bank of the Styx, they were still pursued by
the superstitious dread that they would have no part in the resurrection
of the flesh if their bodies did not rest in the grave.[168] Nay, the
terrors of former ages still haunt the Greeks of today. The people
remain persuaded that those who have not had a religious funeral return
to wander on the earth, and that, changed to bloody vampires, they
punish men, and in particular their kin, for their neglect.[169] A
nomocanon of the Byzantine Church orders that if the body of a ghost be
found intact, when disinterred, its maleficent power thus being proved,
it be burnt and a funeral service with an offering of meats be
afterwards celebrated for its soul. This is exactly what was done in
antiquity in order to appease the dead who had not been buried according
to the rite, _rite conditi_.


                            THE NETHER WORLD

Among most peoples the primitive idea of an after life in the grave was
enlarged into the conception of a common existence of the dead in the
depths of the earth. The dead man does not stay confined in the narrow
dwelling in which he rests; he goes down into vast caverns which extend
beneath the crust of the soil we tread. These immense hollows are
peopled by a multitude of shades who have left the tomb. Thus the tomb
becomes the antechamber of the true dwelling of the spirits who have
departed; its door is the gate of Hades itself. Through the tomb, the
great company of the beings who have been plunged in the darkness of the
infernal regions remains in communication with those who still sojourn
in our upper world. The libations and offerings made by the survivors on
the grave descend to this gloomy _hypogeum_ and there feed and rejoice
those for whom they are intended. Until the time of the Roman Empire,
nay, to the end of antiquity, the common man believed in this
wonder.[170] To attempt to define the means by which it was brought
about would be vain. These were beliefs which went back so far and were
so deeply rooted in the mind of the people that men accepted them
without seeking to explain them.

In Rome, the idea that the spirits of the dead inhabit a common dwelling
in the nether world existed from the time when the city had its
beginnings. It kept in religion a coarsely naïve form which proves how
archaic it was. According to a rite borrowed by the Romans from the
Etruscans, a pit was dug in the centre of the city, when the latter’s
foundations were laid, in order to make the _Inferi_ communicate with
the upper world. First fruits and other gifts were thrown into the pit,
as well as a clod of the earth of the settlers’ native country. Thus
they restored their broken contact with the Manes of their ancestors. In
all probability this hole was formed of a vertical pit ending in a
chamber with an arched roof curved like the heaven—hence the name
_mundus_ given to it. The key of the vault of this lower cellar was
formed of a stone, the _lapis Manalis_, which could be raised in order
to let the spirits pass. Three times a year, on the twenty-fourth of
August, the fifth of October and the eighth of November, this ceremony
took place: the door of hell was opened and the dead had free access to
the atmosphere. These days were therefore sacred, _religiosi_, and all
business was suspended on them.

Recently the _mundus_ of the ancient _Roma Quadrata_ was believed to
have been discovered during excavations of the Palatine, but the
underground space in question is probably only a silo or a cistern.
Other pits used for the cult of the dead existed elsewhere in the city.
It has recently been suggested that the altar of the god Consus, which
was hidden in a ditch in the middle of the Circus Maximus and uncovered
during the races, was one of these mouths of hell and like that shown in
representations of the funeral games of the Etruscans.[171]

But on certain days the souls of the dead rose to the earth’s surface of
themselves, although nothing had been done to make their coming thither
easier, and they then had to be appeased by sacrifices. This was what
happened from the thirteenth to the twenty-first of February, during the
_Parentalia_, when the souls of ancestors were honoured, and on the
ninth, the eleventh and the thirteenth of May, the dates of the
_Lemuria_, on which, at midnight, according to a prescribed ceremonial,
the father of the family nine times threw black beans to the _Lemures_
to keep them away from the house.

_Lemures_ and _Manes_ are used only in the plural: these words stand for
the vague conceptions formed of the shades of the dead who dwelt beneath
the ground. These were a nameless crowd, hardly individualised, not
distinguishable from the fleeting phantoms who fluttered about the
tombs. The Romans were a people of little imagination, and their
infernal mythology remained rudimentary until the time when they
borrowed from the Greeks the picturesque stories about the adventures of
travellers to Hades and the blessings and misfortunes which there
awaited them.

Originally no idea of retribution was attached to this descent of the
dead into the infernal regions; it was neither their merits nor their
demerits which determined their condition. On the contrary, the
inequalities of human society were perpetuated: a nobleman kept a higher
rank than that of his servants; each man in some sort continued his
occupations, even preserved his tastes and his passions. Existence in
the Beyond was conceived as a mere prolongation of earthly life. It is
to this idea, which was generally entertained, that the old custom
corresponds of placing in the grave the implements and other objects
which a dead man was in the habit of using. We have already touched on
this point in speaking of life in the tomb (p. 49), but the things
deposited beside the corpse were not only those which could be used by
the dweller of the “eternal house.” If he were a powerful lord his
chariot, his horses and his arms would be buried with him;[172] a hunter
would be supplied in the other world with his spears and his nets;[173]
a craftsman with the tools of his trade; a woman with the objects which
enabled her to spin and to weave. These funeral customs were more than a
tradition, followed without reference to the reasons inspiring it. Among
the Greeks, as among the Romans, the idea survives persistently, in
poetic descriptions of the Elysian Fields, that each man will there keep
the character and retain the habits which distinguished him before his
death. Virgil, taking his inspiration from Pindar, shows us the blessed
occupied by the contests of the palestra, by song and poetry and by
chariot races; for, he tells us, the passion which the dead had in life
for arms and for horses still pursues them when they have been buried in
the earth.[174] Ovid[175] sketches with rapid touches an analogous
picture. “The shades,” he says, “wander bloodless, bodiless, boneless;
some gather in the forum, others follow their trades, imitating their
former way of life.” And this is no fancy due to the poet’s imagination.
An awkward epitaph of a young, probably Syrian, slave[176] tells us that
he is glad still to be able to discharge his service zealously in the
retired place where dwells the god of the infernal abode. In these
instances we find, in spite of the transformation undergone by
eschatological ideas as a whole, a survival of the old conception of the
destiny of the dead.

We have not to seek far to discover how this transformation took place.
It was provoked by the desire to subject souls to different treatment
according to their deserts, and to distribute them in distinct
compartments in which they would be rewarded or punished in accordance
with their past works. It was much prior to the Roman period, going back
to the distant age at which Orphic theology, with its sanctions beyond
the grave, modified Homeric tradition and popular religion in Greece. In
the West the doctrine which imposed itself with the Hellenic
civilisation on peoples of foreign race was ready-made. It spread
through the south of Italy by way of the colonies of Greater Greece in
which Pythagorism came to its full power. It is in this country that
some of the Orphic tablets intended as guides to the dead in their
journey through the infernal realm have been discovered in the
tombs;[177] and the great amphorae of a later date, bearing
representations of scenes of Hades, which were also found in southern
Italy, show the importance which continued to be attached there to the
idea of the future life. In Campania, Lake Avernus was even regarded as
one of the entrances to the nether world, through which Ulysses and
Aeneas had descended.

The Greek doctrines were also introduced among the Etruscans and
combined with the beliefs of this people as to an underworld in which
the Manes of the dead were threatened by horrible demons and protected
by beneficent genii. This Greek influence and its alliance with the
native traditions appear in Etruria in a great number of funeral
monuments on which we find represented many figures which, according to
mythology, peopled the kingdom of Pluto. One of the most significant is
the fine sarcophagus, discovered a few years ago at Torre San Severo
near Bolsena, which seems to date from the third century B. C.[178] The
two long sides hold corresponding reliefs, the one showing Achilles’
sacrifice of the Trojan prisoners on the grave of Patroclus, the other
the sacrifice of Polyxena, last of Priam’s daughters, on the tomb of
Achilles. These scenes, borrowed from the Greek epic poetry, are placed
between two Etruscan demons, winged figures which bear serpents and are
male on one side and female on the other. The small sides are decorated
by two scenes from the Odyssey, the myth of Circe changing the
companions of Ulysses into animals—perhaps an allusion to
metempsychosis—and Tiresias’ evocation of the shades of the dead, the
Elysian Fields being curiously indicated. This instance—and many others
might be cited—shows how closely the Hellenic legends of Hades had been
intermingled with Etruscan demonology.

This Greek conception of the infernal regions, which literature and art
were to popularise and perpetuate even after credence had ceased to be
given to it, remains familiar to us. Taken altogether and in the large,
it is that of a kingdom imagined as an imitation of the cities of our
world, in which, however, there reigns such a rigorous justice as is on
our poor earth no more than a dream of minds morally disposed. This
underground state, of which the frontier is defended by an unbridged
river, the Styx, is governed by powerful rulers, Pluto and Proserpina.
It has its judges, Minos, Aeacus and Rhadamanthus; its executioners, the
Erinyes or Furies; and its prison, Tartarus, surrounded by high walls.
This jail, in which the guilty, laden with chains, suffer the torments
enacted in Greece by the penal laws or others more atrocious,[179] is
distinctly contrasted with the abode of the good citizens who freely
enjoy in delightful gardens all the pleasures which make the joy of
human beings.

Books treating of the “Descent into Hades,” of which a considerable
number were in circulation, and the poets’ descriptions embroidered
various patterns around this central design. There was a whole
mythological and theological efflorescence which peopled with more and
more numerous figures the fantastic kingdom occupying the great cavern
of the earth. Infinite variations were imagined on a traditional theme,
of which, however, even certain details were preserved from age to age
with a surprising fidelity. Lucian in his satirical description of
Charon and his boat reproduces types fixed in the sixth century before
our era, for, as has been observed, his picture is in exact agreement
with the recently discovered fragment of a black-figured vase.[180]

Although in our sources infernal topography is occasionally somewhat
confused, certain essential features, which we will here merely
indicate, can be recognised in it. We will return to them one after the
other, and speak of them in greater detail, in later lectures. When the
souls, or rather the shades, descend to the depths of the earth, they
reach first a provisional abode where they await a decision as to their
lot, an intermediate region through which all of them pass but in which
some are kept for a considerable time.[181] They then cross the Styx,
and a road which is also common to all of them leads them to the court
which determines their lot.[182] This judging of the dead is foreign to
Homeric poetry: the idea of it was perhaps borrowed by Greece from
Egypt, but from ancient Orphism onwards it was an essential element of
infernal eschatology. Infallible judges, from whom no fault is hid,
divide into two companies the multitude of the souls appearing before
them. The guilty are constrained to take the road to the left which
leads to dark Tartarus, crossing its surrounding river of fire, the
Pyriphlegethon. There those who have committed inexpiable crimes are
condemned to eternal chastisement.[183] But the road to the right leads
the pious souls to the Elysian Fields where, among flowered meadows and
wrapped in soft light, they obtain the reward of their virtues, whether,
having attained to perfection, they are able to dwell for ever with the
heroes, or whether, being less pure, they are obliged to return later to
the earth in order to reincarnate themselves in new bodies after they
have drunk the water of Lethe and lost the memory of their previous

                  *       *       *       *       *

The philosophical criticism of the Greeks had early attacked these
traditional beliefs, but such negative attitude became more definite
among the thinkers of the surpassingly rationalistic period which came
after Aristotle.[184] The Peripatetics, who admitted at most the
survival of reason, rejected in consequence all the myths dealing with
the descent of the shades into the kingdom of Pluto. The Epicureans were
even more radical, for, as we have seen (p. 7), they condemned the soul
to dissolution at the moment of death, thus destroying the very
foundation of the belief in Hades. Their campaign against stories in
which they saw only the lugubrious inventions of priests and poets, was
one of the capital points of their polemics against popular religion,
and they flattered themselves that by destroying faith in the pains of
Tartarus they freed mankind from vain terrors which obsessed its minds
and poisoned its joys. The Stoics, we know (p. 13), taught that the soul
is a burning breath of the same nature as the ether and as the stars
which shine in the sky. As to whether this ardent fluid was lost after
death in the universal fire, or kept its individuality until the final
conflagration of the world, the doctrine of the Porch varied. But one
thing was certain: the fiery nature of the soul must prevent it from
going down into the underground and impel it to rise to higher spheres.
If it were weighed down by its contact with the body and laden with
matter, it might float for some time in the dense air surrounding the
earth but could never descend into its depths.[185] The impossibility of
admitting literally the truth of the stories as to the infernal realm
was thus proved.

The same psychological doctrine as to the soul’s kinship with the fire
of the heavenly bodies was admitted in the Alexandrian age by the sect
which paid one and the same veneration to Pythagoras and to Plato and
was thus more attached than any other to belief in immortality. It gave
in, to some extent, to contemporary rationalism and was brought to
modify its ideas as to life beyond the grave. Ancient Pythagorism, the
heir of Orphism, made much of the sufferings reserved for sinners in the
infernal abysses. A book attributed to Periktione still shows the
daughter who has despised her parents as condemned to suffer, beneath
the earth and in the company of the impious, the eternal evil inflicted
by “Dike and the gods of down below.”[186] But in the first century
before our era the pseudo-Timaeus of Locri declares that such tales are
fictions—salutary, it is true—imagined by Homer in order to divert from
evil those to whom truth alone was not a sufficient guide.[187] The only
penalty which can overtake the sinning soul is, according to these
Neo-Pythagoreans, metempsychosis, which forces it to reincarnate itself
in a fleshly prison.[188]

This doctrine of transmigration claims to transport hell to earth and to
explain, as moral allegories, all the fables which the poets had
invented.[189] The _Inferi_ are nothing else than the dwellings of our
globe, which is the lowest of the nine circles of the world. The true
Hades is the wicked man’s life in which he is tortured by his vices. The
rivers of hell—Cocytus, Acheron, Pyriphlegethon and Styx—are anger,
remorse, sadness and hate, which cause man to suffer. The Furies are the
passions, scourging him with whips and burning him with torches; and
similarly an ingenious interpretation is given to each of the pains
suffered by Tantalus, Sisyphus, the Danaïdes and the others.[190]

This exegesis led finally to an absolute denial of the existence of
hell, but such radical scepticism was in too flagrant contradiction to
the old beliefs to be willingly accepted by the minds which remained
attached to them. Hence arose attempts to bring these beliefs into
harmony with the psychology generally admitted.

A first theory, to which we will have to return when speaking of the
nature of the surviving souls,[191] seems to have been invented in
Alexandria and to have been inspired by Egyptian religion.[192] The
authors who first allude to it, one Greek and one Roman, are
contemporaries who wrote about the year 200 B. C., the critic
Aristarchus and the poet Ennius, but the transmission of the doctrine
can be traced through literary traditions down to the end of antiquity.
It divides the human composite not into two but into three parts—the
body, the soul and the shade. The body is destroyed beneath the earth;
the soul, which is a particle of the divine ether, rises after death
towards its place of origin; but a form (εἴδωλον) of subtle matter
detaches itself from the corpse, and it is this semblance (_simulacrum_)
or shade (_umbra_) which goes down to the infernal regions. The
existence of these regions could thus be maintained, but they were no
longer held to receive the celestial principle which gave intelligence.

Others allowed that it was impossible that the earth should contain
subterranean caverns large enough to hold Tartarus, the Elysian Fields
and the infinite multitude of the dead. But they explained that the word
subterranean (ὑπόγειος) had been misunderstood, that it denoted not the
bowels of the earth but the lower half of the terrestrial globe, the
southern hemisphere, which was unknown to the ancients, or even the
whole celestial hemisphere, curved below this globe which hung
motionless in the centre of the universe.[193] This hemisphere is always
invisible,—so the ancients might say,—which is exactly the sense of the
word Hades (= ἀειδής). The Axiochos, an apocryphal work attributed to
Plato, was first to reveal this doctrine, claiming that it had been
communicated to Socrates by the Mage Gobryes. It was in reality borrowed
by the Greeks of the Alexandrian age from the astral theology of the
Semitic peoples. According to this theology the world is divided into
two halves by the line of the horizon; the upper hemisphere is the
domain of the living and the higher gods, the lower that of the dead and
the infernal gods. Descent to it and ascent from it are by way of two
gates, situated west and east, where the sun appears and disappears. The
marshes of the Acheron, the river Styx, and Charon and his boat are
constellations which the souls cross when they have passed through the
“gate of Hades.”

The ancient Greeks had placed the Islands of the Blessed, whither the
heroes were borne by the favour of the gods, somewhere far away in the
ocean. These islands were now supposed to lie in the Antipodes, in the
unknown half of the earth. All the poets’ stories of the fragrant and
melodious gardens of this abode of delights were applied to these
marvellous countries which no sailor had ever reached.[194] On the other
hand, Tartarus was placed at the bottom of the celestial abysses, near
the lowest point of the lower hemisphere, that is, diametrically
opposite to Olympus, the dwelling of the gods, who were throned on the
summit of the starry vault. It was into this sombre gulf that the wicked
were flung; there yawned the bottomless pit in which the demons of the
dusky world inflicted eternal torture on the guilty.

This theory claimed to bring the ancient Hellenic beliefs into agreement
with the cosmography of astronomers, but this cosmography itself
undermined the foundations of the system, in so far as it refuted the
hypothesis of a physical opposition between the two halves of the
universe. It was observed that a single sky revolved about our earth;
that the same atmosphere, composed of the same elements, enveloped it
entirely; that every part of it was, in turn, equally in the light and
in the shade. Therefore physical phenomena must be identical over the
whole surface of our globe; the climate of the Antipodes must be like
that of our lands; if the Antipodes were peopled, it was by races like
those of men and the beasts. Their inhabitants therefore were not the
dead but living beings. The marvels of the Fortunate Isles did not exist
and there was no reason for regarding the lower rather than the upper
part of the heavens as the vast reservoir of souls.

The doctrine which placed the subterranean kingdom of Pluto and
Proserpina on the other side of the earth and in the other celestial
hemisphere, made a poor resistance to this criticism of the Alexandrian
geographers. If it did not entirely disappear, if its transmission can
be followed down to the end of antiquity and even to the Middle Ages, it
never was so widespread nor so active as another doctrine claiming to
reconcile the beliefs of the past with accepted science.

                  *       *       *       *       *

This bold doctrine transported the whole subterranean world above the
earth’s surface. We shall see, in the next lecture, on celestial
immortality (p. 96), that the Pythagoreans conceived the idea of placing
the Elysian Fields in the moon, and that the Fortunate Isles were
similarly explained by them as being the sun and the moon bathed by the
fluid of the ether. The _Inferi_ were thus the lower space, that is, the
space extending between the sphere of the moon, which was the limit of
the world of the gods, and our globe, which was the centre of the cosmic
system. In the _Inferi_ the souls which had to suffer the chastisement
of their faults were kept prisoners; they could not win to the stars but
wandered plaintively on the earth’s surface and especially about their
own tombs, and then rose through the atmosphere in which, little by
little, they were purified by the elements. Allegorical interpretations
found a place for the infernal rivers in this new topography of the
Beyond: Acheron was explained as being the air, the Pyriphlegethon as
the zone of hail and fire, and the meanderings of the Styx became the
circles of the universe. We shall have occasion to return to the passage
of the soul through this aerial purgatory and its ascension to the
Elysian Fields of the sky.[195]

This cosmological interpretation of the tales referring to Hades had a
more powerful influence than the moral allegory which did too much
violence to tradition in claiming to make our earthly life the
mythological hell. The doctrine that the _Inferi_ were in the atmosphere
was adopted by Stoicism at least from the time of Posidonius and was
therefore widely believed from the end of the Roman Republic onwards.
Even the mysteries, which first kept alive the belief in a subterranean
kingdom of the infernal gods, did not escape the influence of these new
ideas and were brought to adapt their esoteric teaching to them.[196]

The transformation of ancestral beliefs by this theology cannot today be
better apprehended than from the sixth book of the Aeneid. Virgil, when
he relates the descent of Aeneas into the abode of the shades, is
inspired by the _Nekyia_ of the Odyssey and other poetic tales. He
remains apparently faithful to mythological and literary tradition,
retaining the conventional decoration, the unvarying geography of the
infernal kingdom; but he does not admit the literal truth of these
beliefs of an earlier time; he is aware of the figurative sense given by
the philosophers to the old fables of Hades. At the risk of seeming to
contradict himself, he recalls this learned eschatology—the
purification, the ascension and the transmigration of souls—in
connection with what might have been no more than the story of a
marvellous journey to the country of the dead. The unity of the
conception and the composition is the less seriously compromised because
it was believed that the ancient poets themselves had wished to indicate
these truths in their verses under the veil of allegory. The descent to
the nether world has therefore a much loftier bearing in Virgil than a
mere embellishment. It is the expression of a conviction or at least a
hope, not only a brilliant fiction based on an old poetic theme.

                  *       *       *       *       *

However, the symbolical interpretations of the pagan theologians who
respected tradition and the purely negative criticism of the sceptics
led finally to a common result, to the destruction, namely, of the
ancient beliefs, even when it was claimed that they were being saved.
Whether the souls were held captive in the other hemisphere or in the
atmosphere, or whether they were condemned to reincarnation in a body,
Hades was transformed either to the lower sky, the air or the earth, and
the early conception of a subterranean world, whither the dead who had
been laid in the grave descended, was abolished. There are abundant
texts to prove that from the end of the Roman Republic this belief had
lost its grip on many minds. Cicero[197] claims that there was not an
old woman left foolish enough to fear the deep dwellings of Orcus and
the gloomy regions peopled by the livid dead. “No one is childish
enough,” Seneca repeats,[198] “to fear Cerberus and the phantoms which
appear in the form of skeletons.” “That there are Manes,” says
Juvenal,[199] “a subterranean kingdom, a ferryman armed with a pole, and
black frogs in the gulfs of the Styx, that so many thousands of men can
cross the dark water in a single boat,” these are things in which
everyone had ceased to believe except very young children. Pliny[200]
brings forward a paradoxical argument, that, had there been infernal
regions, the zeal of the miners who had dug deep galleries in the ground
would have pierced their boundaries; and even the devout Plutarch, when
he comes to speak of the punishments reserved by mythology for the
wicked, sees in them only nurses’ tales to frighten babies.[201]

The multiplicity of this testimony and its precision allow no doubt that
not only the educated classes but a large portion of the population
rejected the fables as to the nether world. These fables were in any
case a foreign importation in the Latin world. Moralists, while they
ceased to believe in them for themselves, sometimes pretended to retain
them in order to inspire the people with salutary fear, but Tartarus had
lost much of its terror for those it should have kept from ill-doing.

Is this to say that these ideas no longer found credence anywhere? A
faith which has long dominated minds disappears hardly and leaves
persistent traces behind it in customs and feeling. Thus we find that,
more or less everywhere, the practice was perpetuated of placing in the
mouth of the corpse a piece of money which served, it was said, to pay
Charon for the crossing of the Styx.[202] Excavators have found these
coins in many Roman tombs. But they are doubtless evidence of no more
than a traditional rite which men performed without attaching a definite
meaning to it.

Moreover, the metrical epitaphs continue to speak of the Elysian Fields
and of Tartarus, of Styx and of Acheron; they complain of the cruelty of
Pluto who bears away mortals before their time, or of the Parcae or
Fates who cut the thread of their days; they mention the avenging
Furies, the sufferings of Tantalus, Sisyphus and Ixion. But these are no
more than ready-made formulas of poetical language, literary
reminiscences or traditional metaphors. Yet sometimes this infernal
mythology is curiously developed. Thus a long inscription on a Roman
tomb describes a young man descending from the ether in order to
announce to those near and dear to him that he has become a celestial
hero and has not to go to Pluto’s kingdom. “I shall not wend mournfully
to the floods of Tartarus; I shall not cross the waters of Acheron as a
shade, nor shall I propel the dusky boat with my oar; I shall not fear
Charon with his face of terror, nor shall old Minos pass sentence on me;
I shall not wander in the abode of gloom nor be held prisoner on the
bank of the fatal waters.”[203] This epitaph dates from the century of
Augustus, but did its author, any more than the writers of that time,
believe in the reality of the beings with which he peoples Hades? He
decorates his language with a literary ornament which Christian poetry
was later to inherit. This poetry did not hesitate to employ these pagan
commonplaces, which had passed from hand to hand until they were so worn
out that their first meaning had been effaced. The Renaissance and the
age of modern classicism were again to use and to abuse them.

The sculpture of tombs continued in the same way often to reproduce the
ancient models. Sarcophagi sometimes show us the dead man led by Hermes,
guide of souls, and coming into the presence of Pluto and
Proserpina.[204] We also see on funeral monuments Charon in his boat,
the typical sufferings of Tantalus, whose eager lips cannot reach the
flowing water, Ixion turning on his wheel, Sisyphus labouring under the
weight of his rock and, above all, the Danaïdes eternally pouring water
into a perforated vase.[205] But it is probable that these traditional
figures were repeated without any very strong faith being held as to the
real existence of the personages which they represented; indeed it was
proposed only to show them as symbols which had to be interpreted

If we had no other evidence than funeral poetry and art of the
persistence of the beliefs of the past, the testimony would have to be
accepted very cautiously. But other more convincing proofs assure us
that popular faith clung, with characteristic tenacity, to the ancient
conception of the _Inferi_. Without believing precisely in the strange
tortures inflicted on the wicked heroes of mythology, the man in the
street was still vaguely persuaded that the souls went down from the
tomb to some deep places where they received rewards and punishments.
Suetonius[206] relates that when the death of Tiberius became known in
Rome the people “prayed Mother Earth and the Manes gods to give the dead
man no other dwelling than that of the impious.” The Oriental slaves
brought the same convictions from their countries like many other old
beliefs which had faded away in the West. The romancer Heliodorus, a
Syrian priest, shows us in his novel his heroine invoking “the demons
who on the earth and under the earth watch over and punish unrighteous
men,”[207] her prayer being that, after the iniquitous death which
threatened her, they might receive her. The same conviction appears in
the funeral inscriptions of the East. Thus an epitaph of Elaiousa in
Cilicia[208] adjures “the heavenly god, the Sun, the Moon and the
subterranean gods who receive us.” The common idea was that a dead man
can be excluded from the dwelling of the shades and condemned to wander
miserably on the earth. In the same way the thought is often expressed
in the magic papyri of Egypt that the deceased were plunged into the
dark gulfs underground and there became demons whom the wizard called
up, when he summoned them by his incantations. Even in Greece, where
rationalistic criticism had penetrated far deeper among the people,
Plutarch, while he reports that few people were still really afraid of
Cerberus, the lot of the Danaïdes and other bugbears of Hades, adds,
however, that for fear of such pains recourse was had to purifications
and initiations.[209]

This belief in the existence of Hades, maintained in the lower strata of
the population in spite of the inroads made on it and of its partial
supersession by other doctrines, was to acquire new strength from the
rebirth of Platonism, which looked upon the writings of the “divine”
master as inspired. In several passages Plato spoke with so much
precision of the dwelling of the souls in the bowels of the earth that
even the subtlety of his later interpreters found difficulty in giving
another meaning to his text, although the attempt was made by some of
them. Therefore effort was directed to defending the doctrine of the
infallible sage by refuting the objections raised against it by his
adversaries. The Stoics had held, as we have seen (p. 77), that the
soul, being a “fiery breath,” had a natural tendency to rise in the air
and could not sink into the ground. But Porphyry[210] objected that in
lowering itself from heaven towards our world it had become impregnate
with the atmospheric damp and thus had grown heavier, and that if during
its passage in the body it became laden with the clay of a sensual life,
if it wrapped itself in a material cloak, its density came to be such
that it was dragged down into the dusky abysses of the earth. “It is
true,” says Proclus,[211] “that the soul by force of its nature aspires
to rise to the place which is its natural abode, but when passions have
invaded it they weigh it down and the savage instincts which develop in
it attract it to the place to which they properly belong, that is, the
earth.” According to Proclus,[212] who claims to interpret Plato
faithfully, the soul after death is judged somewhere between the sky and
our globe; if it be declared worthy it enjoys a life of blessedness in
the celestial spheres; if, on the other hand, it deserve penalties, it
is sent to a place beneath the ground. Elsewhere, defining his
thought,[213] he affirms that the various parts of Hades and the
subterranean courts and the rivers of whose existence Homer and Plato
appraise us, should not be regarded as vain imaginations or fabulous
marvels. As the souls which go to heaven are distributed among several
and different resting-places, so we must believe that for souls still in
need of chastisement and purification underground dwellings, whither
penetrate numerous effluvia of the super-terrestrial elements, are
thrown open. It is these effluvia that are called “rivers” or
“currents.” Here too various classes of demons hold empire, some of them
avengers, some chastisers, some purifiers and some executioners. Into
this abode, the farthest from that of the gods, the sun’s rays do not
penetrate. It is filled with all the disorder of matter. Therein is the
prison, guarded by demons who ensure justice, of the guilty souls hidden
beneath the earth.

It is not by their faithfulness to Plato’s doctrine, which in truth they
alter, but by the mere logic of their system that the last Greek
philosophers are led to admit what their predecessors rejected.
Sometimes, more or less unconsciously, they were under a religious
influence. The Platonist Celsus believed in the eternal pains of hell
but invoked only the authority of “mystagogues and theologians” in
support of this article of faith.[214] The opposition between the
obscure retreats of the Manes and the bright dwellings of Olympus is
old, and naturally became prominent as the belief spread, first that
heroes, and afterwards that all virtuous spirits, rose to the eternal
spaces.[215] But the religion which formulated the strictly consequent
doctrine of an absolute antithesis between the luminous kingdom where
the divinities and the beneficent genii were seated, and the dark domain
of the Spirit of Evil and his perverse demons, was Persian Mazdeism. The
resplendent heights where the gods had their thrones were to be after
death the abode of those who had served piously. On the other hand,
those who had contributed to increase evil on the earth, were to be
flung into the murky abysses in which Ahriman reigned. Iranian dualism
imposed this eschatological conception on a section of Alexandrian
Judaism; it was admitted by many Pythagoreans, then by the gnostic sects
and later by Manicheism. But above all it was widely propagated under
the Roman Empire by the mysteries of Mithras. We find then put forth the
doctrine that the demons are divided into two armies, incessantly at war
with each other, one good and one evil. The good army is subject to
celestial powers and comes down to earth to give succour and support to
the faithful. The evil army obeys an anti-god (ἀντίθεος) and issues from
the bowels of the earth in order to scatter misery, sin and death among
men.[216] The souls of the dead become like one or the other of these
two opposing classes of demons. When they are virtuous and pure they
rise to the luminous ether where dwell the divine spirits. If, on the
contrary, they are vicious and defiled they go down into the underground
depths where the Prince of Darkness commands; like the maleficent demons
who people this hell they suffer and cause to suffer.

It was at this compromise that paganism stopped when it reached the term
of its evolution. Oriental dualism imposed on it its final formula. It
no longer admitted, like the ancients, that all the dead must go down
from the grave into immense hollows dug in the bowels of the earth, and
it no longer made the Elysian Fields and Tartarus two contiguous domains
of the kingdom of Pluto. Nor did it transport them both, side by side,
as the pagan theologians of the beginning of our era would have done, to
the atmosphere and the starry spheres. It separated them radically,
cutting the abode of the souls into two halves, of which it placed one
in the luminous sky and the other in subterranean darkness. This was
also the conception which, after some hesitation, became generally
accepted by the Church, and which for long centuries was to remain the
common faith of all Christendom.


                         CELESTIAL IMMORTALITY

The astral religion which became predominant in the Roman Empire may be
considered as an intermediary, a connecting link, between the old
anthropomorphic paganism and the Christian faith. Instead of moral—or,
if you prefer, immoral—beings, stronger than man but subject to all the
passions of man, it taught the adoration of the heavenly powers who act
on nature, and so led mankind to the worship of the Power who is beyond
the heavens. This influence of the astral cults of the East can be
clearly perceived in the evolution of the ideas as to future life, and
this above all constitutes the historical importance of the subject
which I venture to treat in this lecture.

Beliefs which are spread among many peoples of the world relate the
immortality of the soul to the heavenly bodies. It was for long naïvely
imagined that a new sun was created every evening, or at least every
winter, and a new moon born each month, and traces of this primitive
idea survived in the religion of antiquity and persist even in our
modern speech. But when it was realised that the same celestial
luminaries reappeared and resumed their ardour after their fires had
died and they had ceased to shine, that the stars which were lit at
sunset were those which had been extinguished at dawn, their lot was
related to that of man, destined like them to be reborn, after death, to
a new life. Various savage tribes thus associate the heavenly bodies,
and especially the moon, with the resurrection of the dead. The wan
circle which sheds its vague light in the darkness of night causes
phantoms to appear to haunt vigils and dreams, and is therefore the
power which presides over life beyond the tomb. Among the Greeks of the
most ancient period Hecate was at one and the same time the goddess of
the moon, the summoner of ghosts and the queen of the infernal realm. In
the East astrological ideas mingled with this mythology. It was taught
that the moon’s cold and damp rays corrupted the flesh of the dead and
thus detached from it the soul which finally abandoned the corpse. The
Syrians, at the critical times in which the moonbeams exercised a more
active influence on this separation, offered sacrifices on tombs, and
the threefold commemoration of the dead on the third, the seventh and
the fortieth day in a part of the Eastern Church had its earliest origin
in these offerings of the sidereal cults.[217]

There was also a very widely held belief, which has survived in European
folk-lore, that each man has his star in the sky. This star is dazzling
if his lot be brilliant, pale if his state of life be humble. It is lit
at his birth and falls when he dies. The fall of a shooting star
therefore denotes a person’s death. This popular idea existed in
antiquity. Pliny the Naturalist reports it, although he denies its
truth,[218] and it was again combated in the fifth century by Eusebius
of Alexandria. “Were there then only two stars in the time of Adam and
Eve,” asks the bishop, “and only eight after the Flood when Noah and
seven other persons alone were saved in the Ark?”[219] The formulas of
epitaphs and the very usages of language show how current was the belief
that each man was, as we still say, born under a good or an evil star.
_Astrosus_ was the Latin equivalent of our _unlucky_. This doctrine of a
rudimentary astrology was incorporated in the general system of learned
genethlialogy. Although this latter attributed a predominant influence
to the planets and the signs of the zodiac, it also taught, in
accordance with popular opinion, that each of the most brilliant stars
(λαμπροὶ ἀστέρες) ensures riches, power and glory to the newly born
child, if it be in a favourable position at his birth.[220]

But side by side with this general conception of a relation between the
life of the stars and that of men, a much more precise idea is met with
from the first. The soul was, as we shall see,[221] often conceived by
the ancients as a bird preparing for flight. Where would it alight when
it had passed through the air except on the heavenly bodies which were
still imagined as quite near the earth? The paintings on an Egyptian
tomb of a late period, found at Athribis, show us the soul of the dead
man fluttering with those others like him in the midst of the

The belief was widely spread that the spirits of the dead went to
inhabit the moon. In the East this faith retained a very crude form
which certainly went back to a most primitive paganism. We find it in
India as well as in Manicheism, which arose in Mesopotamia in the third
century, but which admitted many ancient traditions into its doctrine.
“All who leave the earth,” says an Upanishad, “go to the moon, which is
swollen by their breath during the first half of the month.” The
Manicheans similarly affirmed that when the moon was in the crescent its
circumference was swelled by souls, conceived as luminous, which it drew
up from the earth, and that when it was waning it transferred these
souls to the sun. Using an idea much earlier than his time,[223] Mani
also stated that the boat of the moon, which plied in the sky, received
a load of souls which every month it transferred to the sun’s larger
vessel. The association established in Syro-Punic religions between the
moon and the idea of immortality is marked by the abundance in Africa of
funeral monuments bearing the symbol of the crescent, either alone or
associated with the circle of the sun and the star of Venus.[224] These
astral symbols are identical with those already used by the Babylonians.
But it is not only among the Semitic peoples that we find the crescent
on tombs, either alone or accompanied by other figures: it is of
frequent occurrence, notably in Celtic countries. Possibly the Druids
placed in the moon the other world where men pursued an existence
uninterrupted by death.

As for the sun, the idea most commonly accepted was that the dead
accompanied him on his course and went down with him in the west to an
underground world. There, during the night, this enfeebled heavenly body
recovered his strength, and there the dead too were revived. The power
of this faith in ancient Egypt is known: the souls embarked on the boat
of Ra, and with him, after they had accomplished the circle of the
heavens, went down through a crevice of the earth or beyond the ocean.
This was the first origin of the rôle of “psychopomp” which we shall
find attributed to the solar god.

Finally many peoples believed that souls, after plying through air and
space, inhabited the sky in the form of brilliant stars. The multitude
of the stars scintillating in the firmament was that of the innumerable
spirits who had left the world. They pressed in a dense crowd,
especially in the long luminous track of the Milky Way, which was, _par
excellence_, the dwelling of the dead. Other traditions saw in this band
across the sky the highroad which the dead travelled to gain the summit
of the world.[225] A vestige of this ingenuous conception is retained in
the very name, “Milky Way.”

                  *       *       *       *       *

These ideas as to the lot of the soul after death, which were spread
among a number of different peoples, may also have existed in primitive
Greece but we have no proof that they were current there. As the
Hellenes granted to the stars only a restricted and secondary place in
their anthropomorphic religion, so in early times they had no belief, or
scarcely any, in the ascent of souls to the starry sky. This doctrine
was entirely strange even to the earliest Ionian thinkers. Recent
research has made it more and more probable that these conceptions were
introduced into Greece from the East, where astrolatry was
predominant.[226] Pausanias[227] claimed to know that the Chaldeans and
the Magi of India were the first to assert that the human soul is
immortal, and that they convinced the Hellenes, and in particular Plato,
of this doctrine. Such an affirmation, in this form, is certainly false,
but it contains an element of truth. The tenet of astral immortality is
ancient in the East: it probably took form in Babylon about the sixth
century, when Persian Mazdeism, which believed that the righteous were
lifted up to the luminous dwelling of the gods, came into contact with
the sidereal religion of the Chaldeans. It was propagated in Greece
especially by the Pythagoreans, for whom the soul had a celestial
origin, being, as we have seen (p. 24), a fiery principle, a particle of
the ether which lights the divine fires of heaven. This spark, which
descended at birth in the body, which it heated and animated, reascended
after death to the upper regions, whence it had come forth. Aristophanes
in his _Peace_[228] greets the apparition of a new star, that of the
Pythagorean poet, Ion of Chios, who had recently died, asking ironically
if it be not true that “when someone dies he becomes like the stars in
the air.” This is the most ancient precisely dated mention of stellar
immortality (421 B. C.), and it cannot be doubted that the doctrine was
that of Ion himself. Plato received it from the Pythagoreans and makes
very clear allusions to it.

The fundamental idea on which it rests, the idea that the psychic
essence is the same as the fire of the heavenly bodies, is at the root
of all oriental astrology, which claims to explain by astral influence
the formation of character. This idea of a relationship (συγγένεια)
between the soul and the stars does not in Greece belong to the old
basic popular beliefs. It was introduced thither by the philosophers,
who, as we shall see, drew from it very important theological
conclusions. According to them, it was owing to this identity of nature
that the soul was capable of knowing the gods and of aspiring to join
them.[229] This doctrine took on new power when astrology succeeded in
imposing itself on the Alexandrian world, and it is significant that we
find it clearly formulated by an adept of this pseudo-science, the
famous Hipparchus, in the second century before our era. “Hipparchus,”
says Pliny,[230] “will never receive all the praise he deserves, since
no one has better established the relation between man and the stars, or
shown more clearly that our souls are particles of the heavenly fire.”
Pythagorism and Stoicism, and after them the Syrian and Persian
mysteries, were to popularise this conception throughout the ancient
world. In certain regions, as in Gaul, it undoubtedly found pre-existing
native beliefs with which it combined, and in religion and among
theologians it assumed multiple forms. We shall try to distinguish its
chief aspects, dealing successively with lunar, solar and stellar

                  *       *       *       *       *

The Pythagoreans, perhaps transforming a belief of the Greek people as
to Selene’s rôle, but more probably inspired by Oriental speculations,
held that souls, when they had been purified by air, went to dwell in
the moon. To the question, “What are the Isles of the Blessed?” the
orthodox doctrine of the sect answered, “The sun and the moon.”[231] For
them the heavenly bodies were moving islands washed by a luminous fluid,
which their swift motion caused to sound about them. These thinkers, who
debated all the scientific hypotheses, accepted the plurality of worlds.
The heavenly bodies were other earths surrounded by air and rolling in
the boundless ether. The moon in particular was designated as the
“ethereal” or “Olympic earth,” and in the moon lay the Elysian Fields,
the meadows of Hades, in which the shades of the heroes rested.
Pythagoras himself, promoted to the rank of an immortal spirit, rejoiced
there among the sages. Persephone, assimilated to Artemis, reigned over
this kingdom. Did not the moon, like her, transfer itself alternately
above and below the earth? The planets were this huntress’s hounds
which, ever in chase, were scouring the fields of space around her in
every direction.

The authors of Pythagorean apocalypses peopled the mountains and valleys
of the moon with fantastic animals, stronger than ours, and with strange
plants, more vigorous than those of our globe. The inhabitants of the
moon, fed on the vapours of the atmosphere, were not liable to human
needs. In his “True Histories,” Lucian[232] parodied these mad
imaginings with comic exaggeration and ludicrous obscenity.

A curious fragment of Castor of Rhodes gives an instance of an
unexpected application of these beliefs.[233] This historian, who lived
at the end of the Republic, had the idea of interpreting Roman customs
by the Pythagorean doctrines which Nigidius Figulus and his circle of
theosophists had brought back into fashion (p. 22). In particular he
explained by this method the ivory _lunulae_ (crescents) which decorated
the senators’ shoes. They recalled, he says, that noble souls inhabited
the moon after death and trod on its soil.

The eclectic Stoics of the same period, and especially Posidonius of
Apamea, gave this lunar eschatology a place in their system, and
undertook to justify it by the physical doctrines of the Porch.
According to them, souls, which are a burning breath, rose through the
air towards the fires of the sky, in virtue of their lightness.[234]
When they reached the upper zone, they found in the ether about the moon
surroundings like their own essence and remained there in equilibrium.
Conceived as material and as circular in form, they were, like the
heavenly bodies, nourished by the exhalations which arose from the soil
and the waters. These innumerable globes of a fire endowed with
intelligence formed an animated chorus about the divine luminary of
night. The Elysian Fields did not, in this theory, lie in the moon
itself, which was no longer an earth inhabited by fantastic beings, but
in the pure air _about_ the moon whither penetrated only souls no less
pure. This idea was to last until the end of paganism, although other
eschatological doctrines then met with more favour. The emperor Julian
in the beginning of his satire on the Caesars describes them as invited
to a banquet held, as was proper, on a lower level than the feast of the
gods, who met at the summit of heaven. “It seemed fitting,” he
says,[235] “that the emperors should dine in the upper air just below
the moon. The lightness of the bodies with which they had been invested
and also the revolutions of the moon sustained them.”

The zone of the moon, the lowest of the seven planetary spheres, in
which the serene ether touches our own foggy atmosphere, is the frontier
between the world of the gods and that of men, the border between
immortality and the generated, the line of demarcation between the life
of blessedness and the death which our earthly existence really is.
Aristotle had already noted the distinction between the two halves of
the universe, the one active and the other passive, the heavens formed
of unalterable ether and subject neither to progress nor to corruption,
and our sublunary world composed of four elements, our world in which
all is born, is transformed and dies. Neo-Pythagoreans and Neo-Stoics
liked, in insisting on this opposition, to show the contrast between the
splendour and the darkness, the serenity and the trouble, the constancy
and the mutability, the truth and the error, the happiness and the
misery, the peace and the war, which reigned respectively in the
dwelling of the gods and in the abode of men, whither souls descending
to earth penetrated so soon as they had crossed the circle of the moon.
In imitation of Plato[236] this sublunary world is shown as a dark cave
in which the captive souls, plunged in obscurity, aspire to see again
the light from on high.

The funeral monuments of the imperial period have retained numerous
traces of these beliefs. As we have already said (p. 94), the crescent
often appears on them, either alone or together with other symbols.
Other tombstones are still more expressive. A Roman relief, preserved in
Copenhagen, is particularly characteristic: the bust of a little girl
appears on it placed on a large crescent and surrounded by seven
stars.[237] On this an inscription recently found at Didyma might serve
as a commentary: “Standing before this tomb, look at young Chorô, virgin
daughter of Diognetos. Hades has placed her in the seventh circle,”[238]
that is, in the circle of the moon, which is the lowest of the seven

We see that philosophy and physics had united to transform the old
belief in the ascent of souls to the moon. The intervention of theories
claiming to explain the systems of the world is still more marked in the
other doctrines of astral immortality. It was this blending which made
them strong enough to impose themselves on the minds of men. By their
agreement with contemporary science, they satisfied reason and faith at
the same time. But as all this theology really rested on a wrong
cosmography, its lot was bound up with that of a false conception of the
universe, and the two fell together.

                  *       *       *       *       *

The first of these doctrines appears to us the most reasonable because
it is founded on the primordial rôle of the sun in our world. It was
born in the East when the Chaldean priests deprived the moon of the
pre-eminence originally ascribed to it, and recognised the unequalled
importance of the sun in the cosmic system.[239] These astronomical
theologians deduced from this recognition a theory which includes
something like an anticipation of universal gravitation, and which was
to prove seductive both by its greatness and by its logic. It spread
through the ancient world in the second and first centuries B. C. There
are some signs that the Pythagoreans, who were much addicted to the
study of the heavenly bodies, were the first to adopt it, and with the
propagation of Oriental astrology it obtained a wide diffusion in the

The sun, placed in the fourth rank or the middle of the planetary
spheres,[240] like a king surrounded by his guards, was believed
alternately to attract and repel the other celestial bodies by the force
of his heat, and to regulate their harmonious movements as the
coryphaeus directed the evolutions of a chorus. But since the stars were
looked upon as the authors of all the physical and moral phenomena of
the earth, he who determined the complicated play of their revolutions
was the arbiter of destinies, the master of all nature. Placed at the
centre of the great cosmic organism, he animated it to its utmost
limits, and was often called the “heart of the world” whither its heat

But this well-ordered universe could not be directed by a blind force,
and therefore the sun was an “intelligent light” (φῶς νοερόν). The pagan
theologians looked upon him as the directive reason of the world (_mens
mundi et temperatio_). The Pythagoreans saw in him Apollo Musagetes, the
leader of the chorus of the Muses, who were placed in the nine circles
of the world and whose accord produced the harmony of the spheres. Thus
he became the creator of individual reason and director of the human
microcosm. The author of generation, he presided over the birth of
souls, while bodies developed under the influence of the moon. The
radiant sun constantly sent down sparkles from his flaming circle to the
beings he animated. The vital principle which nourished men’s material
envelope and caused its growth was lunar, but the sun produced reason.

Inversely, when death had dissolved the elements which formed the human
composite, when the soul had left the carnal prison which enclosed it,
the sun once more drew it to himself. As his ardent heat caused vapours
and clouds to rise from the earth and the seas, so he brought back to
himself the invisible essence which animated the body. He exercised on
the earth both a physical and a psychical attraction. Human reason
reascended to its original source and returned to its divine home. The
rays of the god were the vehicles of souls when they rose aloft to the
higher regions.[241] He was the anagogue (ἀναγωγεύς) who withdrew
spirits from matter which soiled them.

Just as he sent the planets away from him and brought them back by a
series of emissions and absorptions, so he caused his burning effluvia
to descend to the beings whom he called to life, and so he gathered them
after their death that they might rise to him once more. Thus a cycle of
migrations caused souls to circulate between the sky and the earth, as
the stars alternately drew away from and returned to the radiant focus,
heart and spirit of the Great All, which called forth and directed their
eternal revolutions. It is easy to understand how this coherent and, it
may be said, magnificent theology, founded on the discoveries of ancient
astronomy at its zenith, imposed on Roman paganism the cult of the
invincible Sun, the master of all nature, the creator and saviour of

A mass of literary evidence and a number of figured monuments prove how
powerful became, under the Roman Empire, the belief that the sun was the
god of the dead. Old mythological traditions combined with Chaldean
theology and were propagated with the Eastern religions. It was imagined
that the deceased, and in particular the emperors, were borne to heaven
on the chariot of Helios, or that the eagle, the king of the birds and
the servant of the sovereign sun, carried off their souls to bear them
to his master. Elsewhere it was the griffin of Apollo or the solar
phoenix who was the bearer of the dead or the symbol of immortality. A
funeral altar of Rome even bears the characteristic inscription, “_Sol
me rapuit_,” “the Sun has seized me up.”[242]

You will probably ask how men succeeded in reconciling this solar
immortality with the doctrine which made the moon the abode of the dead.
The Greeks, following the Orientals, had been able to make a lunar-solar
calendar, and they also constructed an eschatology in which the two
great heavenly bodies both played part. They were the two divinities
whose help the priests promised to “those who were about to die.”[243]
This eschatology is founded on the astrological idea that the moon
presides over physical life, over the formation and decomposition of
bodies, but that the sun is the author of intellectual life and the
master of reason. The doctrine also includes the belief we have already
explained elsewhere,[244] that when souls leave the earth, they are
still surrounded by a subtle fluid which retains the appearance of the
persons whom they formerly animated. The pagan theologians thus admitted
that the souls which came down to earth assumed in the sphere of the
moon and in the atmosphere these aerial bodies which were regarded as
the seat of the vital principle. Inversely, when they rose again to
heaven, the function of the moon was to dissolve and to receive these
light envelopes, as on earth its damp rays provoked the corruption of
the corpse. The soul, thus becoming pure reason (νοῦς), ascended to the
sun, the source of all intelligence. According to others the formation
of the soul’s integument was begun and its reabsorption was completed in
the planetary spheres, and this is why the Neo-Platonist Jamblichus[245]
placed the Hades of mythology between the sun and the moon. These
theories are not the product of pure philosophical speculations, but
have their roots in the old astral religion of the Semites. The
mysteries of Mithras, the Chaldaic oracles, and above all Manicheism
shared the belief in a lunar-solar immortality of which the source
certainly goes back to the tenets of the “Chaldean” priests.

                  *       *       *       *       *

Solar immortality is a learned doctrine, the fruit of the astronomical
theories which made the king-star the centre and the master of the
universe. It was such as to find acceptance with theologians and
philosophers and to be spread by the Oriental mysteries. But it never
succeeded in eliminating or overshadowing the old popular idea that the
souls of the dead dwell in the midst of the glittering constellations. A
trace of the double conception is found in the Stoic school. For certain
of the masters of this school the directing reason of the world, the
(ἡγεμονικόν), has its principal seat in the sun, for others in the
sphere of the fixed stars. In the same way the poets, Lucan addressing
Nero, and Statius addressing Domitian, hesitatingly ask if these
emperors will ride in the flaming chariot of Phoebus or if they will
assume Jupiter’s sceptre in the highest heaven.[246] The
Neo-Pythagoreans admitted that souls could rise to the Most High (εἰς
τὸν Ὕψιστον), that is to say, to the supreme God who was enthroned at
the summit of the world.[247] It was, moreover, very anciently held
among the Greeks that Olympus was in the outer circle enveloping the
world, and until the end of antiquity we find the Elysian Fields were
transported to the zone of the constellations and in particular to the
Milky Way. This is, for instance, the doctrine of Cicero as shown in the
dream of Scipio.

So the old popular idea that the soul became a star, which in Greece was
accepted by the ancient Pythagoreans, still subsisted. According to
mythology this was the happy lot reserved for heroes. We have whole
books which tell us how these heroes at the end of their career were
transformed to brilliant stars in reward for their exploits.
“Catasterism” draws a moral conclusion from ancient tales. Hercules,
Castor and Pollux, Perseus and Andromeda and many others had deserved
such metamorphosis. It did not therefore seem bold to assign to the
eminent men of the present the same destiny as to the great figures of
the past, and no one was shocked by the supposition that their divine
spirits might be added to the number of the “visible gods.” This was, in
particular, a lot worthy of the princes who had deserved apotheosis. At
the death of Caesar a comet appeared. It was thought to be the
dictator’s soul which had been received among the Immortals, and
Ovid[248] does not hesitate to show us Venus descending, invisible, into
the senate, snatching this soul from the pierced body and bearing it
aloft to the sky. There Venus feels the soul become inflamed and sees it
escape from her breast to fly beyond the moon and turn into a trailing
comet. Hadrian, in his grief for the death of Antinous, let himself be
persuaded that a star had just appeared which was the deified soul of
his favourite.[249] But as in Greece “heroification” was finally awarded
by the will of families to every one of their members whose loss they
mourned, so “catasterism” was in the end accorded to deceased persons of
very moderate deserts. “Nearly the whole heaven,” says Cicero, “is
filled with mankind.”[250] In an inscription of Amorgos[251] a young
man, carried off by the Fates at the age of twenty, thus addresses his
mother: “Weep not; for of what use is weeping? Rather venerate me, for I
am now a divine star which shows itself at sunset.” And at Miletus[252]
a child of eight years old, whom Hermes has led to Olympus, contemplates
the ether and shines in the midst of the stars, “rising every evening to
the horn of the Goat. By the favour of the gods he protects the young
boys who were his playfellows in the rude palaestrae.”

Epitaphs so precise in expression are exceptional. On the other hand,
numerous epigraphic and literary texts declare that the soul of some
dead person has risen to the stars to live there with the Immortals, but
leave the position of this soul undetermined. It is stated to have flown
towards the vast sky, to have been received by the ether, to be living
at the summit of the world and following the revolutions of the
celestial armies. But the place where the blessed thus come together,
that one of the upper spheres in which their meeting takes place, is
left uncertain. Their dwelling was known to be somewhere very high above
us, but men did not willingly venture to fix its exact situation.

The heathen theologians wished however to bring order and precision into
this astral eschatology. As they had combined the doctrines of lunar and
solar immortality, so they attempted to bring both into agreement with
stellar immortality. When Lucian in the beginning of his “Icaromenippus”
shows us his hero passing over three thousand stadia from the earth to
the moon, where he makes a first halt, rising thence five hundred
parasangs to the sun, and then ascending from the sun to heaven,
Jupiter’s citadel, through the space travelled in a full day by an eagle
in rapid flight, he is giving us a humorous parody of the journey which
some men ascribed to souls. This idea that the soul thus rises to
Paradise by three stages was widely entertained in the East, and it was
notably held by Mazdeism. A trace of this belief seems to linger in the
passage of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians in which Saint Paul
tells that he has been lifted “to the third heaven.”[253]

The Platonists sometimes adopted the same conception and combined it
with psychological ideas, a development of those we recalled in
connection with solar immortality (p. 103). It was held that when the
soul came down to earth it first received an ethereal garment of almost
immaterial purity; then, imagination being added to reason, a solar
fluid surrounded it; then a lunar integument made it subject to the
passions; and finally a carnal body was the cause of its ignorance of
divine truths and of its blind foolishness. It successively lost with
these wrappings the inclinations or faculties which were bound with
them, when after death it went back again to the place of its

The conception of the triple ascension of souls rested fundamentally on
a rudimentary astronomy, for it confused the five planets with the fixed
stars, discriminating from both only the sun and the moon. But for long
the system which divided the heavens into seven superimposed spheres,
enveloped by an eighth sphere which was the limit of the universe, had
imposed itself not only on the learned but also on the authors of pagan
apocalypses. The eschatological doctrine which triumphed at the end of
paganism is in agreement with this theory, generally admitted by the
science of the period. This doctrine is certainly of Chaldeo-Persian
origin, and was spread in the first century especially by the mysteries
of Mithras.[255] Then, in the second century, the Pythagorean Numenius
introduced it into philosophic speculation. Man’s soul was held to
descend from the height of heaven to this sublunary world, passing
through the planetary spheres, and thus at its birth it acquired the
dispositions and the qualities peculiar to each of these stars. After
death it went back to its celestial home by the same path. Then as it
traversed the zones of the sky, it divested itself of the passions and
faculties which it had acquired during its descent to earth, as it were
of garments. To the moon it surrendered its vital and alimentary energy,
to Mercury its cupidity, to Venus its amorous desires, to the sun its
intellectual capacities, to Mars its warlike ardour, to Jupiter its
ambitious dreams, to Saturn its slothful tendencies. It was naked,
disencumbered of all sensibility, when it reached the eighth heaven,
there to enjoy, as a sublime essence, in the eternal light where lived
the gods, bliss without end.

In the mysteries of Mithras a ladder composed of seven different metals
served as a symbol of this passage of souls through the spheres,
astrology placing each of the planets in relation with one of these
metals, lead with Saturn, gold with the sun, silver with the moon and so

But in opposition to this pantheism which, while identifying God with
the universe, placed the chief home of divine energy in the celestial
spheres and particularly in the highest of them, the sectaries of
Plato transported the supreme Power beyond the limits of the world and
made of him a Being no longer immanent, but transcendent and distinct
from all matter. This conception became more and more predominant in
pagan theology as Stoicism lost influence in favour of Neo-Platonism.
This God, “ultramundane and incorporeal, father and architect” of
creation,[257] had his seat, it was thought, in the infinite light
which extended beyond the starry spheres. Religion called him
sometimes the Most High (Ὕψιστος), sometimes Jupiter, but gave him at
the same time the epithets “Uppermost,” “Insuperable” (_summus_,
_exsuperantissimus_).[258] It was this celestial Father whom the elect
souls aspired to join, but only those who had attained to perfection
succeeded in doing so, as we shall see in our last lecture. The others
stayed, in accordance with their degree of purity, in a lower zone of
the successive stages formed by the atmosphere, by the planetary
circles, and by the heaven of the fixed stars, which were the “visible
gods,” opposed to the spiritual world.[259]

                  *       *       *       *       *

This was the last conception of paganism and on the whole it was to
impose itself on men for many centuries. Judaism had already made
concessions to the astronomical theories of the “Chaldeans,” and had
borrowed from them the idea of seven stories of heavens, an idea which
we find developed in particular in the apocryphal Book of Enoch. It also
belonged to Christianity almost from the beginning, and the gnostics
gave it a large place in their speculations. But especially Origen, who
borrowed it directly from the Greek philosophers, lent the authority of
his name to the doctrines of astral eschatology. According to him,
souls, after they have sojourned in Paradise, which he imagined as a
remote place of earth where they learn terrestrial truths, rise to the
zone of the air and there understand the nature of the beings who people
this element. But if they are free from all material weight, they cross
the atmosphere rapidly and reach “the dwellings of the heavens,” that
is, the celestial spheres. There they grasp the nature of the stars and
the causes of their movements. Finally, when they have made such
progress that they have become pure intelligences, they are admitted to
contemplate the reasonable essences face to face and see invisible
things, enjoying their perfection. Although Origen was condemned by the
Church, his ideas were not abolished. Since the Christian lore adopted
the ancient conception of the world’s structure, as formulated by
Ptolemy, it had necessarily to admit that souls traversed the planetary
circles in order to reach that “supermundane light” in which they found
perfect beatitude. Dante’s Paradise, with its choirs of angels and its
classes of the blessed, distributed among the superimposed spheres of
the heavens, is a magnificent testimony to the strength of the tradition
which antiquity bequeathed to the Middle Ages. Before this tradition
could be destroyed, Galileo and Copernicus had to ruin Ptolemy’s system
and open up to the imagination the infinite spaces of a limitless


                       THE WINNING OF IMMORTALITY

A fundamental difference distinguishes the conception of immortality as
it appears in the religion of the Roman Empire from our modern ideas.
Immortality, as we conceive of it, follows on the very nature which we
ascribe to the human soul. It is affirmed by some, denied by others, in
accordance with the character which each one attributes to the principle
of conscious thought, but whenever credence is given to it, it is
generally supposed to be absolute, eternal, universal. For the ancients,
on the other hand, immortality was no more than conditional: it might
not be perpetual and it might not belong to all men. According to the
Platonists the soul, an incorruptible essence, a principle of life and
movement, survived necessarily;[260] according to the Epicureans, being
composed of atoms, it was dissolved at the moment of death.[261] But
between these extreme opinions of the philosophers, the religion of the
people remained faithful to the old belief that the shade must be
nourished with offerings and sacrifices, that if it lacked sustenance it
was condemned to waste away miserably. This conception, like not a few
others which were fading away in the West, was revived when the
Orientals imposed on the Roman world their more primitive and sometimes
very crude beliefs. The normal destiny of the soul was therefore to
survive the body for a certain time, then in its turn to disappear. A
second death (δεύτερος θάνατος) completed the work of the first which
gave the corpse over to corruption. The spiritual essence which had
abandoned the body was annihilated after it. Such was the inevitable
necessity imposed on mankind. Immortality was a privilege of divinity.
The man who was exempted from the common lot of his kind was therefore
the equal of the gods; he had risen above his perishable condition to
acquire the everlasting youth of the Olympians, the unlimited duration
of the stars which travel the heavens, the eternity of the Supreme

If he became a god after his death it was sometimes because he had been
one ever since his birth. For men were not all born equal: if each of
them possessed the _psyche_ which nourished and animated the body, yet
all men did not equally receive the divine effluence (πνεῦμα) which gave
reason. This reason, which distinguished man from the beasts, was akin
to the fires of the stars; it established between man and heaven a
community of nature (συγγένεια) which alone made it possible for him to
acquire a knowledge of divinity,[262] the “gnosis” of God and of the
world which He animated. This special grace also exempted him who
obtained it from the passions and weaknesses to which the inclinations
of the flesh exposed him. It made him pious, temperate and chaste: he
was holy (_sanctus_).[263] It communicated to him a lucidity and power
lacking to the common run of mortals. He penetrated the secrets of
nature and commanded the elements; he received revelations and was
capable of prophetic divination. Inversely, every exceptional quality
was regarded as superhuman; every extraordinary act seemed a miracle.
The most enlightened spoke merely of celestial inspiration. “_Nemo
magnus vir sine quodam adflatu divino_,” said Cicero.[264] The many saw
in these privileged beings earthly incarnations of all the Olympians.
From the moment of their appearance on the earth these men were really
gods; their soul kept its higher nature in all its purity; it would
indubitably return after death to its place of origin. Such are the
leading ideas which explain the belief in the immortality of the heroes.

Among those who escaped the common law of death because they were
divine, first of all, were the kings. In all times kings have been
looked upon as of superior essence to the rest of mankind, and the
ancient East approximated them or made them equal to the heavenly
powers. The Hellenistic realms, in Egypt, Syria, Asia Minor, raised the
cult of the monarch to the rank of a state institution; and the Caesars
inherited this homage, which was rendered to them by their subjects even
in their lifetime, first in the East and then throughout the Empire. The
powerful chief who delivered his state from the scourge of invasion and
ensured it peace and welfare, accomplished a work which seemed to be
beyond the ability of man, and he was adored as a present god (ἐπιφανὴς
θεός, _praesens numen_), a saviour (σωτήρ). Sometimes the god incarnate
in him was specified; and he was looked upon as a manifestation of Zeus,
Apollo, or another. Very ancient but still active beliefs gave him the
power to command nature as well as men. If the fields were fertile, if
the flocks and herds had increased, these were benefits received from
the godlike sovereign. No miracle was beyond his accomplishment. He was
the providence of his people, having indeed the power of foreseeing and
foretelling the future. According to Manilius,[265] it was to kings,
whose lofty thoughts reached the heights of the sky, that nature first
revealed her mysteries. The pagan theologians affirmed, indeed, that the
souls of kings came from a higher place than those of other men, and
that these august personages borrowed more from heaven than the common
crowd of mortals.[266] And thus, death had no sooner carried them off
from the earth than their souls once again rose to the stars, who
welcomed them as their equals (_sideribus recepti_). It was thought that
an eagle or the chariot of the sun bore them away.[267] It may seem
strange that the senate should deliberate as to whether or not a
deceased emperor deserved apotheosis, and should refuse or accord him
official canonisation. But this act is in conformity with all the ideas
we have described, since the monarch’s benefits and victories were the
proof of his divine origin, and since, if he had committed crimes and
caused misfortunes, he was thus shown to be in no respect a god.

In the remote ages of ancient Egypt, the Pharaohs were the first whom
Osiris consented to identify with himself, or whom their father Ra bore
away in the solar boat, but little by little the rites practised in
order to ensure eternity to the sovereign were extended to the magnates
surrounding him. Thus immortality was a kind of posthumous nobility
bestowed on the great servants of the state, or usurped by them, long
before the rest of the people obtained it. In Greece, also, kings were
the first to be the objects of a cult as protecting heroes, but after
them other classes of eminent men received the same title and the same
adoration, in particular the founder of a city, its lawmaker who had
given it a constitution and the warrior who had victoriously defended
it. In the same way as fabulous demigods, Castor and Pollux or Hercules,
had in heaven become brilliant stars as a reward for their earthly
deeds, they also were public benefactors who by their works and their
virtues had shown themselves worthy of the same “catasterism.” These
ideas passed to Rome with the Stoic philosophy. After having given a
list of those who had triumphed in the wars of the Republic, Cicero lays
down as a fact that not one of them could have attained so far without
the help of God;[268] and elsewhere he states more explicitly:[269] “To
all who have saved, succoured or aggrandized their country, a fixed
place in which they shall enjoy everlasting bliss is assigned in heaven,
for it is from heaven that they who guide and guard cities have
descended, thither to reascend.” The ex-consul Cicero claimed apotheosis
for the great men of the state: this was the republican transformation
of the doctrine of the divinity of kings.

Pagan theology was to give much wider extension to this doctrine. In a
curious passage Hermes Trismegistus[270] explains that there are royal,
that is to say divine, souls of different kinds, for there is a royalty
of the spirit, a royalty of art, a royalty of science, and even a
royalty of bodily strength. All exceptional men were godly, and it was
not to be admitted that the sacred energy which animated them was
extinguished with them.

Pious priests, like kings, were judged, or rather judged themselves, to
be worthy of immortality. Who could more justly deserve a share in the
felicity of the gods than those who on the earth had lived in their
company and known their designs? He who had thus been in communication
with the godhead and learnt his secrets was raised above the condition
of humanity. This sacred knowledge, this gift of prophecy, this
“gnosis,” which was inseparable from piety, transformed him who had
obtained it, set him free even in life from the condemnation of fate;
and after death he went to the immortals whose confidant he had been
here below.

The philosophers and theologians who treated of the nature of the Divine
Being shared the blessed lot of the priests and soothsayers who
interpreted His will. Their doctrine came to them by inspiration from on
high, or at least so they readily believed. Their intelligence, which
was lit by a divine ray, penetrated the world’s mysteries and subjected
it to their will. _Philosophus_ became a synonym for thaumaturge. Even
in this life the superior mind of the philosophers allowed them to
escape the necessities by which other men were oppressed, and this
reason returned after death to the source of all intelligence.

But all knowledge came from God. It was He who gave light to the wise
man, absorbed in austere research, and caused him to discover truth. It
was He too who inspired the poet, who worked in him when enthusiasm
carried him away; He likewise who gave to the artist the faculty of
apprehending and expressing beauty, to the musician the power to recall
by his chords the sublime harmony of the celestial spheres. All who gave
themselves up to works of the intellect had a part in the godhead. They
were purified by the high pursuit of spiritual joy and freed thereby
from the passions of the body and the oppression of matter. For this
reason the Muses are frequently represented on tombs; beautiful
sarcophagi are decorated with the figures of the nine sisters. Thanks to
these goddesses, mortals were delivered from earthly misery and led back
towards the sacred light of the heavens.

Thus the spirits of all men distinguished above their fellows were one
day to find themselves gathered together in the dwelling-place of the
heroes. This conception made the future life a reward for eminent
service rendered to the state or humanity. Its origin certainly went
very far back: it is found among primitive peoples, in reference to the
famous warriors of the tribes, and it never ceased to be accepted in
ancient Greece. But towards the end of the Roman Republic it was more
generally admitted than ever before. It was in harmony with the
constitution of an aristocratic society in which it seemed that even
posthumous honours should be reserved for the elect. Some modern
thinkers and poets have shared the ancient feeling which inspired it.
Carducci, who disliked the critics of Milan, thought that they might
well perish wholly, but that the great spirits like Dante, whom he
interpreted,—and doubtless also this interpreter himself,—were
saved.[271] Matthew Arnold also in an admirable sonnet strongly defends
the faith in a limited immortality. Let me recall to you the last

             “And will not then the immortal armies scorn
             The world’s poor routed leavings? or will they
             Who fail’d under the heat of this life’s day
             Support the fervours of the heavenly morn?
             No! The energy of life may be
             Kept on after the grave, but not begun,
             And he who flagg’d not in earthly strife,
             From strength to strength advancing—only he,
             His soul well-knit and all his battles won,
             Mounts, and that hardly, to eternal life.”

                  *       *       *       *       *

But this proud doctrine vowed to final destruction the mass of humble
men, the multitude of the miserable, that is to say, those who, because
they endured most in this world, must most aspire to seek in another the
happiness which was here denied them and the retribution which should
repair the injustice of their earthly lot. This doctrine of the
immortality of the few made low station in life a misfortune which was
prolonged beyond the grave. To the immense company of the wretched, who
suffered without consolation, the religions of the East brought a
“better hope,” the assurance that by certain secret rites the mystic,
whatever his rank, whether senator or slave, might obtain salvation. The
virtue of the liturgical ceremonies made him equal to the immortals
(ἀπαθανατίζειν). This was the secret of the rapid spread of these exotic
cults in the Latin world.

Every day the stars disappear beneath the horizon to reappear in the
east on the morrow; every month a new moon succeeds the moon whose light
has waned; every year the sun is reborn to new strength after his fires
have died away; every winter vegetation withers to bloom again in the
spring. The gods of nature—Attis, Osiris, Adonis—also rose again after
they had been slain; the gods of the stars resumed their glowing ardour
after darkness had overwhelmed them. Their essential quality was to be
for ever “living” or “unconquered” (_invicti_). Their career was a
perpetual triumph over death. The struggle implied was, under the
influence of dualism, recognised to be an unceasing battle between two
powers disputing possession of the world. Thus the mystic who had become
god, who had part in the divine energy, also acquired the power to
conquer death. Oriental religions looked upon earthly existence as a
fight from which the just man issued victorious. Immortality was a
triumph won over the powers of evil, of which the most implacable was
death. The souls of the elect were crowned like athletes and soldiers;
their wreath was the “crown of life,” often represented on funeral
monuments.[272] The Greeks sometimes, and the Etruscans frequently, had
personified death as a horrible monster who frightened those whom he
approached. But the idea of making death into the adversary of mankind,
from whose empire pious and strong souls might escape, spread only with
the reception of the Oriental beliefs.

This mythological conception of salvation was combined in the mysteries
with another, which was more scientific, that of fatalism, which was the
chief dogma imposed by astrology on the Roman world. Death is for man
the most inevitable and the hardest necessity. _Fatum_ often denotes the
unalterable term of life; and this end, which diviners could foresee but
could not delay, ought, according to the law of our kind, to overtake
the soul as well as the body. But the Oriental cults never ceased to
claim that the celestial powers who escaped the rule of Destiny, which
extends only to the sublunary world, were also able to withdraw thence
their faithful followers. As the emperor was not subject to Fate because
he was god, so he who had been initiated and had acquired the same
quality was, as a funeral inscription expressed it, “exempt from the lot
of death.”[273] Those who had taken part in the occult ceremonies of the
sect and were instructed in its esoteric doctrines were alone able to
prolong their existence beyond the term fixed by the stars at their
birth. By the virtue of these rites pious souls were withdrawn from this
fate-ridden earth and were led, enfranchised from their servitude, to a
divine world.

Thus those who had acceded to a religious initiation obtained eternal
life, like the great men whose celestial origin had predestined them
thereto. By what rites was wrought this “deification” (ἀποθέωσις), or
rather this “immortalisation” (ἀπαθανατισμός)?

The soul, enclosed in the body, was by its very contact with matter
exposed to pollution, “as pure and clear water poured into the bottom of
a muddy well is troubled.”[274] The mysteries never conceived the soul
as absolutely immaterial: it was a subtle and light essence, but one
coarsened and weighed down by sin, which thus altered its divine nature
and caused its decomposition and loss.[275] In order therefore that
immortality might be ensured to the soul, it must be cleansed of its
stains. The pagan religions employed a whole set of ablutions and
purifications for restoring his first integrity to the mystic. He could
wash in consecrated water in accordance with certain prescribed forms.
This was in reality a magic rite: the cleanliness of the body wrought by
sympathy a veritable disinfection of the inner spirit, the water
clearing off its taints or expelling the evil demons which caused
pollution. Or else the initiate sprinkled himself with or drank the
blood either of a slaughtered victim or of the priests themselves. These
rites arose from the belief that the fluid which flows in our veins is a
vivifying principle, able to communicate new existence.[276] The man who
had received baptism by blood in the _taurobolium_ was reborn for
eternity (_in aeternum renatus_),[277] and when, foul and repulsive, he
left the sacred ditch, he was adored as a god by those present.
Elsewhere purifications by air and fire were found united to that by
water, so that the different elements all had part in the
purgation.[278] All these cathartic ceremonies had the effect of
regenerating him who submitted to them, delivering him from the
domination of the body, making him a pure spirit, and rendering him fit
to live an immaculate and incorruptible life.

A similar belief in a transference to the soul of bodily effects
partially explains why unctions were still employed in the liturgy of
the mysteries. By rubbing himself with perfumed oil the wrestler in the
palaestra and the bather after the perspiration of the sweating-room
strengthened their limbs and rendered them supple. Ancient medical
science deals at great length with the propitious action of numerous
ointments, and by their means magic worked not only sudden cures but
also prodigious metamorphoses. The aromatic unguents, which had
marvellous antiseptic qualities, served to ensure the conservation of an
embalmed corpse. Similarly, in the cult of the mysteries, unctions gave
the soul an increase of spiritual force and made it capable of
prolonging its existence for ever. As rubbing with unctuous substances
was a practice of the thermae, so it was of the temples after the
liturgical bath. In the anointing of kings and the ordination of priests
they communicated to man a divine character and higher faculties, and
this idea has been preserved down to modern times. But, above all, as
ointments preserved mortal remains from putrefaction, so the consecrated
oil and honey became a means by which the soul was rendered
incorruptible and immortality was bestowed upon it.

The most efficacious means of communicating with the godhead which the
mysteries offered was, however, that of participation in the ritual
banquets. These banquets are found in various forms in all these
religious communities. We have seen that among the votaries of Dionysos
his feasts, in which the consecrated wine was drunk, gave a foretaste of
the joys reserved for the initiate in the Elysian Fields.[279]
Drunkenness, which frees from care, which awakens unsuspected forces in
man, was looked upon as divine possession, as the indwelling of a god in
the heart of the Bacchantes. Wine thus became _par excellence_ the drink
of immortality, which flowed for the sacred guests in the meals of the
secret conventicles. The heady liquid not only gave vigour of body and
wisdom of mind, but also strength to fight the evil spirits and to
triumph over death.

Sometimes honey, which was according to the ancients the food of the
blessed, was offered to the neophyte and made him the equal of the
Olympians. Elsewhere bread consecrated by appropriate formulae was held
to produce the same effects.

But still another conception is discernible in the feasts of the
mysteries and mingles with the first: it is thought that the god himself
is eaten when some sacred animal is consumed. This idea goes back to the
most primitive savagery, as is seen in the rite of “omophagy” in which
certain votaries of Bacchus fiercely tore the raw flesh of a bull with
their teeth and devoured it. Undoubtedly there was originally a belief
that the strength of the sacrificed animal was thus acquired, like the
superstition of the native African hunters who eat a slain lion’s heart
in order to gain his courage. Similarly, if a victim be regarded as
divine, to consume it is to participate in its divinity. “Those,” says
Porphyry,[280] “who wish to receive into themselves the soul of
prophetic animals absorb their principal vital organs, such as the
hearts of crows, moles or hawks, and thus they become able to speak
oracles, like a god.” Similarly, the Syrians ate the fish of Atargatis,
a forbidden food which was, however, provided for the initiate after a
sacrifice; and those who partook of these mystic repasts were not, like
the rest of men, vowed to death, but were saved by the goddess.[281]

All means of attaining to godliness were not so crude as these. An
important part of the mysteries was the instruction which gave the
sacred lore, the “gnosis.” This “gnosis” included the whole of religious
learning, that is to say, it was the knowledge of rites as well as of
theological and moral truths. It taught above all the origin and the end
of man, but it covered all the works of God, and, inasmuch as it
explained creation, it formed a system of the world and a theory of
nature. In fact the world, being wholly penetrated by a divine energy,
was itself a part of God. The close alliance which exists between
philosophy and the mysteries, and which is revealed to us especially in
the Pythagorean and Hermetic literature,[282] is shown in the value thus
given to science. This science, which in the East had always been
sacerdotal, was not looked upon as a conquest of reason but as the
revelation of a god. Illumined by this god, the initiate entered into
communication with him, and consequently himself became divine and was
withdrawn from the power of Fate. “They who possess the knowledge
(γνῶσις) have deification as their happy end,” said Hermes

The highest degree of this “gnosis” is the sight of the godhead himself,
or to use the Greek word, “epoptism.” By artifice or illusion
apparitions were evoked and “epiphanies” produced.[284] A whole system
of fastings and macerations placed the mystic in a fit state to attain
to ecstasy. In the temple of Isis the faithful devotee merged himself
“with inexpressible delight”[285] in the silent adoration of the sacred
images, and when the rites had been accomplished and he felt himself
transported beyond the confines of the world, he contemplated the gods
of heaven and hell face to face. He who had had the vision of this
ineffable beauty was himself transfigured for ever. His soul, filled
with the divine splendour, must when its earthly captivity had ended
live eternally in contemplation of the radiant beings who had admitted
it to their company.[286]

                  *       *       *       *       *

The mysteries have thus a number of processes, some material and some
spiritual, for producing the union with god which is the source of
immortality. This union is first conceived as effected with the
particular god honoured by a sect. As this god has died and has risen
again, so the mystic dies to be reborn, and the liturgy even marks by
its ceremonies the death of the former man and his return to a glorious

The fervent disciple to whom the god has united himself suffers a
metamorphosis and takes on divine qualities. In magic this process is
sometimes very grossly indicated: “Come into me, Hermes,” says a
papyrus,[287] “as children do into women’s wombs, ... I know thee,
Hermes, and thou knowest me; I am thou and thou art I.” The old Egyptian
doctrine of the identification with Osiris, which goes back to the age
of the Pharaohs, was never given up in the Alexandrian mysteries, and
the whole doctrine of immortality rested on it. As on the earth the
initiate who piously observed sacred precepts received in his bosom the
godhead, so after death the faithful became a Serapis if a man, an Isis
if a woman. This beatification seems to have been conceived sometimes as
an absorption into the heart of the divinity, sometimes as a
multiplication of the divinity, who left to the deceased his own

It was above all from Egypt that apotheosis in the form of a particular
divinity spread first in the Hellenistic and then in the Roman world. As
the Pharaohs became Osiris on the earth and after their death, so among
the Ptolemies such names as Isis-Arsinoë and others similar are found,
and the emperors were adored even in their lifetime as epiphanies of
Apollo, Zeus or Helios.[288] Their subjects could obtain a lot as happy
as that of the sovereigns. The mystics of Dionysos were early made
divine, in imitation of those of Serapis, and became as many emanations
of Bacchus; and finally under the empire a cult was rendered to the dead
under such titles as Mars, Hercules, Venus, Diana and other Olympians.

Conceptions less in conflict with reason were taught by the astral cults
of the Semitic East. The celestial powers here were higher, more
distant, less anthropomorphic, and it was not imagined that a man could
assume their form. Here the action of the god on the mystic recalled
that of the stars in nature: it was regarded as an effluence, fallen
from the ether, which penetrated the initiate, as an energy which filled
him, as a luminous ray which lit his mind. Virtue from on high entered
into the neophyte and transformed him into a being like the divinities
of heaven.[289] He was glorified (δοξασθείς) as a conqueror who had
triumphed over demons and smitten down death; he was illuminated
(φωτισθείς) and penetrated by a supernatural light which disclosed to
him all truth; he was sanctified (ἁγιασθείς) and acquired unfailing
virtue; he was exalted (ὑψοῦται), that is to say his soul rose in
rapture to the stars. Glory, splendour, light, purity, knowledge: all
these ideas were confounded until they became almost synonymous and
together denoted the transfiguration which was undergone by the soul
called to rise to ethereal regions, even on this earth and while it was
still joined to the body.

But this divine action, which tended to become purely spiritual, was
originally much more material. A very coarse substratum to the
theological ideas is still apparent in the texts which mention them.
Magic, which was addressed to the credulity of simple men, did not
conceal it at all. Here the ascension of the spirit appeared as a
journey to heaven. By appropriate formulae and processes the sorcerers
pretended to secure immortality for their adepts, making them fly, body
and soul, through the higher spheres to reach the dwelling of the

                  *       *       *       *       *

In short, the initiate of the mysteries believed that they found in them
a warrant of immortality. By the virtue of the rites their souls were
united to their god; thus they became themselves divine, and were
ensured an everlasting life. Inevitably, every Oriental religion
affirmed that it held the only sacred tradition leading surely to
eternal felicity. Outside the sect there was no certain salvation. But
philosophy always opposed these claims. Philosophy, too, thought itself
able to lead through wisdom to happiness in this world and in the next,
and there was rivalry between it and the positive cults, as soon as it
took on a religious character and set up religious claims. The
Neo-Pythagoreans who formed esoteric communities opposed their
purifications and initiations to those of the mysteries. But the
eschatological doctrine, of which Posidonius was, if not the author, at
least the powerful promoter, and which was to be taken up again and
transformed by the Neo-Platonists, exempted the wise man from any
obligation to religious observances as ensuring his immortality. He was
no longer in need of sacraments and sacrifices, but could by his own
unaided force become a pure intelligence, win the complete mastery of
himself by reason, and thereafter be certain of raising himself to the

At the most, certain thinkers granted a “propaedeutic” or preparatory
value to ritual observances, and saw in them a means of predisposing the
soul to ecstasy, but the mystic philosophers, of whom Plotinus
represents the purest type, discarded for themselves all religious
practices. Their proud doctrine places man alone face to face with
God.[291] Or else, like Porphyry, they admit that sacred ceremonies can
purify the spiritual or pneumatic soul but not its highest part, the
intellectual soul; that they can raise it to the region of the stars but
not bring it back to the Supreme Being. The late pagan philosophy
asserts constantly and forcibly that the wise man’s reason is able by
itself, or rather through a celestial grace, without the intervention of
any liturgy, to ensure its own return to its divine source. “As,” says
Porphyry, “he who is the priest of a particular god knows how to
consecrate his statues, celebrate orgies, perform initiations and
lustrations, so the true philosopher, who is the priest of the universal
God, knows how to make His sacred images and to carry out His
purifications and all the processes which will unite him to this

Philosophers were therefore the priests of the world. Their functions
were parallel to those of the actual priests but higher. They tended
more and more to form a sacerdotal order which was separated from the
rest of human society by its customs and its way of life. Like the
mysteries they taught that piety, temperance and continence were the
indispensable conditions of obtaining true knowledge. This “gnosis” was
no longer a traditional theology revealed in the shadow of the
sanctuary, but a scientific truth perceived by a grace-illumined reason.
The philosopher took no part in the ceremonies of a complicated ritual,
but his prayer was the silent supplication of his intelligence seeking
to understand creation. He did not become absorbed in the contemplation
of idols but in the sight of the divine world and in particular of the
starry heavens. The end which this lonely cult strove to attain was
analogous to that sought by others in the conventicles of the initiate—a
divine revelation which would give to the perfect wise man superhuman
power, which would make him a prophet, sometimes a wonder-worker; and
after death, already a god on earth, he went to live in the company of
the gods on high.

The lifting of the reason to heaven, source of all intelligence, was
thus the pledge of astral immortality, as the liturgical banquet was of
the celestial feast. As physical drunkenness, being divine possession,
was a prelude to the joy of the eternal repast, so spiritual ecstasy was
the sign of future deification.[293]

The ancients found impassioned words to depict this communion of man
with the starry heavens, and to express the divine love which
transported the soul into radiant space.[294] In the splendour of night
the spirit was intoxicated with the glow shed on it by the fires above.
Like the possessed and the Corybantes in the delirium of their orgies,
it abandoned itself to ecstasy, which set it free from its fleshly
wrappings and lifted it up to the region of the everlasting stars. Borne
on the wings of enthusiasm it sprang to the midst of this sacred chorus
and followed its harmonious movements. Reason, illumined by the divine
fires which surrounded it, understood the laws of nature and the secrets
of destiny. It then partook of the life of the light-flashing beings
which from the earth it saw glittering in the radiance of the ether;
before the fated term of death it had part in their wisdom and received
their revelations in a stream of light which dazzled even the eye of
reason. This sublime rapture was an ephemeral foretaste of the endless
felicity reserved for the sage when, after his death, rising to the
celestial spheres, he penetrated all their mysteries.[295]


                             UNTIMELY DEATH

In the last lecture we endeavoured to show that in the ancient world
immortality was at first conceived as being precarious and conditional,
and that only the heroes, the exceptional men, who were in truth gods on
earth, obtained apotheosis after their death. We afterwards saw that the
mysteries extended the promise of eternal salvation to all the initiate,
who by virtue of the rites were made equal to the gods, and finally that
the philosophers contested the necessity of sacred ceremonies and
affirmed that human reason by its own unaided power could win union with

We will now consider in more detail what lot was reserved for a special
class of the dead, those whose life had been interrupted by an untimely
end, and how in their case philosophy modified the old traditional

If we turn over collections of ancient inscriptions we find, as when we
go through our own cemeteries, a number of epitaphs in which the grief
caused by the early death of a friend or relative is expressed. But in
antiquity this sorrow was called forth not alone by regret for a loved
being, too soon lost to sight, and by painful disappointment because of
the irreparable ruin of the hopes to which his youth had given rise.
Along with these human feelings, which are of all time and all
societies, there were mingled in antiquity ideas which caused the loss
of those who died before their time to seem more fearful and bitter.

Virgil’s celebrated lines, in which he describes the descent of Aeneas
to Hades, will be remembered:[296]

             “Continuo auditae voces, vagitus et ingens,
             Infantumque animae flentes in limine primo,
             Quos dulcis vitae exsortes et ab ubere raptos
             Abstulit atra dies et funere mersit acerbo.”

“Ever were heard, on the outermost threshold, voices, a great wailing,
the weeping souls of infants bereft of sweet life and torn from the
breast, whom the ill-omened day swept off and whelmed in bitter death.”

In an eschatological myth of Plutarch,[297] the traveller beyond the
grave also sees a deep abyss, in which moan the plaintive voices of a
multitude of children who had died at the moment of their birth and were
unable to rise to heaven. It has been shown that the Latin poet and the
Greek philosopher are here interpreters of an old Pythagorean belief, to
which Plato alludes:[298] children who died young, like persons who met
with violent deaths, the ἄωροι καὶ βιαιοθάνατοι, found no rest in the
other life, but their souls wandered on the earth for the number of
years for which their life would normally have lasted. The souls of the
shipwrecked who perished at sea roamed the surface of the waters and
sailors believed that they were incarnated in the seagulls.[299]

How did this belief in the miserable lot of innocent children arise? Its
origin should probably be sought in that fear of death which haunts all
primitive peoples, and it developed owing to the frequency in antiquity
of infanticide by abandoning or “exposing” newly born infants. Remorse
provoked terror. This conclusion is especially suggested because the
fate of those who died prematurely was approximated to the lot of those
who died violent deaths. Beings who had been prevented from completing
the natural span of life were feared; their shades were conceived as
being unquiet and in pain, because it was believed that they could
return to disquiet and pain the living. The idea was entertained that a
spirit brutally separated from the body came to hold it in horror and
did not consent to inhabit the tomb until a reconciliation had been
disobtained by expiatory ceremonies. Being grievously disincarnated, the
soul became harmful. Souls, said the ancients, whom a cruel and untimely
end has violently or unjustly torn from their bodies, themselves tend to
be violent and unjust in order that they may avenge the wrong they have
suffered.[300] It is no rare thing to find evidence in the inscriptions
of a suspicion that a person cut off in the flower of his years has been
the victim of some foul play; the curse of Heaven is called down on the
head of his assumed murderer. The Sun, who discovers hidden crimes, is
often invoked in Roman epitaphs against this unknown offender:[301]
“Towards the Most High god, who watches over everything, and Helios and
Nemesis, Arsinoë, dead before her time, lifts up her hands; if any one
prepared poison for her or rejoices in her end, pursue him,” says an
inscription of Alexandria. But the victim was himself believed to be
capable of vengeance. It seemed incredible that one still full of
strength and life should be entirely blotted out and that the energy
which had animated him should also have disappeared suddenly, and the
reprisals of this mysterious power were apprehended. This spirit pursued
above all the murderer and, more generally, those who had given it cause
for complaint. It showed itself to them in the form of terrifying
monsters which tormented them. “As soon as I shall have expired, doomed
to death by you,” says the child in Horace whom the witches sacrificed,
“I will haunt your nights like a Fury, I will tear your faces with my
hooked nails, as the Manes gods can, and weighing on your unquiet hearts
I will take sleep from your affrighted eyes.”[302] Suetonius[303]
relates that after the death of Agrippina, Nero was, on his own
confession, often troubled by the vision of her spectre and attempted to
calm her spirit by a sacrifice and an evocation which he caused his
magicians to make. The same historian gravely recounts that the house in
which Caligula was murdered was every night haunted by dreadful
apparitions until the time when it was destroyed by fire.[304] A
scholiast defines the _lemures_ as “the wandering shades of men who died
before their normal time and are hence redoubtable.”[305] Even today
popular belief in many countries attributes a maleficent power to the
spirits of those who have died a violent death.

These disquieting superstitions acquired new force through the teachings
of astrology, which by incorporating them in its system gave them a
doctrinal foundation. Astrology spread the belief, which was and is
common to all ancient and modern peoples of the East, that each soul has
a predetermined number of years to spend on earth. The _mathematici_
multiplied calculations and methods in order to be able to predict the
instant of death predetermined by the horoscope. “This is the great work
of astrology, held by its adepts to be its most difficult and by its
enemies to be its most dangerous and blameworthy operation.”[306] But by
an internal contradiction this pseudo-science admitted that the natural
end could be hastened by the intervention of a murderous star
(ἀναιρέτης): Saturn and Mars can in certain positions call forth sudden
death by accident, killing, execution. A fragment attributed to
Aristotle asserts that a Syrian mage predicted to Socrates that he would
meet such a fate.[307] Sometimes the maleficent planets tear a nursing
child from its mother’s breast before a single revolution of the sun has
been accomplished. All astrological treatises devote chapters to these
“unfed” children (ἄτροφοι) and also to the _biothanati_ whose life has
been interrupted by misfortunes of any kind. Petosiris was even
concerned to discover—Ptolemy declared such preoccupation to be
ridiculous[308]—what the stars reserved until the end of their life for
those who had gone through only a portion of it. The texts which have
been preserved—and often expurgated—by the Byzantines give no more than
a bare indication of astral influences on the lot of men. In antiquity
other more religious and more mystical works doubtless existed in which
the inauspicious action of the murderous star, still affecting after
death the souls torn from their mortal wrappings, was shown.

Pythagorism, which was closely connected with astrology, took possession
of these ideas and adapted them to its speculations. According to this
philosophy one and the same harmony presided over all physical phenomena
and was, like music, subject to laws of number. These laws therefore
were at work during pregnancy, and a complicated arithmetic was employed
to show by a multiplication of days that a child might be born after
seven or nine months with power to live, but not after eight, for such
was the strange doctrine of the sect. Thus gestation became a melody in
which abortion was a false note.

Nature was said to be like an artist who sometimes breaks an instrument
of which he overstretches the chords, and sometimes leaves them too
slack and can produce no tune. Now, these harmonic laws necessarily
determined not only the formation but also the end of man: “There is a
fixed relation of determined numbers which unites souls to bodies,” says
a philosopher, “and while it subsists, the body continues to be animate,
but so soon as it fails, the hidden energy which maintained this union
is dissolved, and this is what we call destiny and the fatal time of
life.”[309] When the term fixed by nature is reached, the soul departs
without effort from the body in which it can no longer exercise its
office. But when the soul is violently ejected from the body and the
link connecting them is broken by an external force, it is troubled and
is afflicted by an ill which will cause it pain in the Beyond.

These ideas had sunk deep into the popular mind. The distinction between
an end in conformity with nature and one unexpectedly provoked by
extraneous intervention is often expressed in literature as well as in
inscriptions. Thus the epitaph of a young woman of twenty-eight, who was
believed to have been the victim of witchcraft, states that “her spirit
was torn from her by violence rather than returned to nature,”[310]
which had lent it to her; the Manes or the celestial gods will be the
avengers of this crime. Still more frequently an opposition is found
between an early death and _Fatum_. The hour of death is determined at
the moment of birth:

         “Nascentes morimur; finisque ab origine pendet.”[311]

“At the moment we are born, we die; and our end is fixed from our
beginning.” He who reaches this term fixed for his life ends “on his
day” (_suo die_); otherwise he dies “before his day” (_ante diem_).[312]
The vulgar belief was that the intervention of a human or divine will
could oppose the fated course of things and abridge the normal duration
of existence. Often the expression occurs of a belief that a demon or,
what is more remarkable, an evil god has carried off innocent children
or young men whose life has thus been shortened.[313] But pagan theology
undertook the task of re-establishing the order of nature thus disturbed
by fortuitous accidents and by individual and unregulated interferences.
The breaking of the laws of the universe was only apparent: a soul might
by mischance or by a malevolent act be suddenly severed from its body,
but, remaining obedient to Fate, it had thereafter to linger on earth
until its appointed time was accomplished.

Its lot was supposed to be analogous to that of the unfortunate who had
been deprived of burial (ἄταφοι, _insepulti_) of whom we spoke in our
first lecture.[314] It circled about the corpse, which it could not
abandon, or fluttered here and there near the place of burial or on the
spot where the body which it had occupied had been assailed. Excluded
from the abode of the shades these wandering souls flitted near the
earth or on the surface of the waters, miserable and plaintive. The fear
of never being able to penetrate into the kingdom of blessed shades
seems to have inspired the following prayer, which occurs in a metrical
epitaph of Capri:[315]

“You who dwell in the country of Styx, beneficent demons, receive me too
into Hades, me the unfortunate who was not borne away in accordance with
the judgment of the Fates, but by a hasty and violent death provoked by
unjust anger.”

These brutally disincarnated souls became like the swift and harmful
spirits with which the air was filled: like them they belonged to the
train of Hecate, the goddess of enchantment, and like them were subject
to the power of magicians. At Lesbos, Gello, a young virgin carried off
before her time, became a phantom which killed children and caused
premature deaths.[316] The leaden tablets, which were slipped into tombs
in order to injure an enemy, and the magic papyri of Egypt bear a large
number of incantations in which these mischievous demons are invoked. In
the same way a series of conjurations, dating from the third century and
found in the island of Cyprus, appeal to the spirits of the dead thrown
in the common ditch, “who have met their death by violence, or before
their time, or who have been deprived of burial.”[317] In general the
sacrifice of newly born children, and the use of their vital organs and
bones, was, and not without reason, a most frequent charge against
sorcerers. Formulas preserved on papyrus recommend as powerful means to
work a charm “a baby’s heart, the blood of a dead maiden, and the
carrion of a dog.”[318] Witches were believed to steal children in order
to use the entrails in their occult operations, a ritualistic murder
analogous to that attributed by popular belief, in some countries, to
the Jews. Cicero, Horace in an epode, Petronius in his romance,[319] and
other authors bear witness to the extent to which this opinion was
entertained. The epitaph of a young slave of Livia, wife of Drusus,
relates his misfortune. Before he was four years old he was cut off by
the cruel hand, the “black hand” of a witch, who practised her noxious
art everywhere. “Guard well your children, ye parents,” adds the

Likewise the murder of adults and the use made of objects which had
belonged to executed or murdered persons is frequently mentioned. The
wonder-workers believed that by practising with the bodies of this class
of the dead, or with objects they had used, they became masters of their
wandering souls and made them serve their designs. The nails of a
crucified criminal, the bloodsoaked linen of a gladiator, were
efficacious amulets.[321] Faith is still kept nowadays in the rope which
has hanged a man.[322] The books which circulated under the name of
Hostanes the Persian, Nectabis the Egyptian and other illustrious
wizards dealt with evocations of ἄωροι and βιαιοθάνατοι.[323]

Thus a logical series of beliefs was pushed to its extreme consequence.
At the moment of birth Fate fixed for each man the length of his career;
if this were interrupted, the soul had to complete it in suffering, near
the earth, and became a demon which lent its aid to diviners and
sorcerers. This doctrine, supported by astrology and Oriental magic,
imposed itself on many minds. Plato, who had found it among the
Pythagoreans, alludes to it, and Posidonius seems to have dealt with it
more at length in his treatise “On Divination” (περὶ μαντικῆς),[324]
although we cannot tell in how far he supported it. But it encountered
the objections of other Greek philosophers. The reproach made to this
theory was that it left out of account morality and merited retribution,
and brought together, as subject to the same misfortune, criminals
condemned to capital punishment and children whose age had kept them
from all sin. Feeling and reason at the same time protested against the
cruel doctrine which vowed indifferently the innocent and the guilty to
long torture. When accident or illness caused the death of a beloved
son, could his parents make up their mind to believe that he would
suffer undeserved chastisement? A distinction had to be made between
categories of persons, and to this task the pagan theologians applied
themselves. Let us follow them in their undertaking.

                  *       *       *       *       *

The ἄωροι are those who die “out of season,” that is to say, in the wide
sense of the word, those whose existence ends abnormally, but more
particularly those who die young, who die prematurely. They include the
ἀνώνυμοι, those who have received no name, who have not, that is,
reached the ninth or tenth day of life, the ἄτροφοι, _non nutriti_, or
babes who are still being fed at the breast or, according to the
astrologers, are not yet a year old, and the ἄγαμοι, the _innupti_, who
have died before the age of marriage and have therefore left no
posterity to render them funeral rites.

None of these children and adolescents deserved, in the opinion of the
sages, any chastisement. The Pythagoreans placed the age of reason, at
which man is capable of choosing between good and evil and may be made
responsible for his faults, as late as sixteen, that is, the age of
puberty. Until that age the “naked” soul, without virtue as without
vice, was exempt from all merit and demerit which would later attach to
it. We know the unhappy lot to which, according to these philosophers,
they were doomed. But other theologians considered that these souls,
which had not been weighted by a long contact with matter, should fly
more easily to celestial heights. Unsullied by earthly pollution, their
purity allowed them to rise without difficulty to a better life in a
happier abiding-place.[325]

It is hard to determine to what degree these moral ideas had penetrated
the popular mind. The reaction against a superstitious belief often led
to pure negation. Those who held that death put an end to all
sensibility, were content to affirm that the child they wept had gone
down into everlasting night, and that nothing was left of him but dust
and ashes. Certain epitaphs hope that, if his Manes still have some
feeling, his bones may rest quietly in the tomb. But mother’s love was
not to be satisfied with this negative assurance or to resign itself to
anxious doubting. The people kept an unreasoning fear of the evils which
awaited the ἄωροι, and of those which might be expected from them. Some
also believed that an ancestral fault—such as was, according to the
Orphic doctrine, the murder of Zagreus, by the Titans—made all humanity
guilty from birth, and that this hereditary sin had to be effaced by
purifications.[326] Religion offered a remedy for the ill to which, to
speak with Lucretius, it had itself lent persuasion. The custom of
initiating children to the mysteries which was, at least at Eleusis,
originally connected with the family or gentile cult, became a means of
preserving them from the fatal lot which threatened them and of ensuring
their happiness in the other life. Thus _pueri_ and _puellae_ are found
admitted at the most tender age among the adepts of the secret cults,
both Greek and Oriental, perhaps even consecrated from birth to the
godhead. They are imagined as partaking in the Beyond of the joys which
these cults promised to those whose salvation they ensured. A child who
has taken part in a ceremony of Bacchus lives endowed with eternal youth
in the Elysian Fields in the midst of Satyrs.[327] Others continue the
games proper to their years in another life, or if they have reached the
age of first love they still sport with young Eros. Above all, however,
the influence of the astral cults, added to that of philosophy, brought
about an admission that innocent creatures ascended to the starry
heavens. An epitaph of Thasos[328] speaks of a virgin, flower-bearer
(ἀνθοφόρος) probably of Demeter and Kora, who was carried off at the age
of thirteen by the inexorable Fates, but who, “living among the stars,
by the will of the immortals, has taken her place in the sacred abode of
the blessed.” At Amorgos, a child of eight was, we are assured, led by
Hermes to Olympus, shone in the ether, and would henceforth protect the
young wrestlers who emulated him in the palaestra. Even the precise spot
in which he twinkled was fixed, the horn of the constellation of the
Goat—an appropriate place for this little fighter.[329] Curiously, an
epitaph of Africa, which repeats Virgil’s very expression (p. 129),
states, in contradiction to the poet, that a baby, “cut off on the
threshold of life,” has not gone to the Manes but to the stars of
heaven,[330] and a relief of Copenhagen shows the bust of a little girl
within a large crescent surrounded by seven stars, thus indicating that
she has risen towards the moon, the abode of blessed souls.[331]

Examples of these premature apotheoses might be multiplied. I shall
merely show, by a characteristic case, how it was possible for old
popular beliefs to be combined with the new astral doctrine. The
ancients attributed to the rustic nymphs the strange powers which the
Greek peasant today recognises in beings which he still designates as
the Nereids.[332] Sometimes these fantastical goddesses possess
themselves of the spirit of men and change them into seers or maniacs
νυμφόληπτοι; sometimes their fancy is caught by handsome youths whom
they carry off and oblige to live with them. But above all they love
pretty children and steal them from their parents, not to harm them but
in order that they may take part in their own divine pastimes. Doubtless
it was at first to mountain caverns, near limpid springs, in the depths
of tufted woods, that they bore him whom they made their little
playfellow. Such were the archaic beliefs of the country folk. But the
mysteries of Bacchus taught that an innocent child, thus rapt from the
earth, mingled in the train of the Naiads in the flowery meadows of the
Elysian Fields;[333] and when Paradise was transferred to the sky it was
in the “immortal dwelling-place of the ether” that the nymphs, we are
told, placed a little girl whose charm had seduced them.[334]

Transported thus to heaven, these loved beings were transformed by the
tenderness of their relatives into protectors of the family in which
their memory survived, or of the friends who shared regret for them.
Whether they were called “heroes” in Greek, or as elsewhere “gods,”[335]
they were always conceived as guardian powers who acknowledged by
benefits the worship rendered them. Thus in the middle of the second
century the _familia_ of a proconsul of Asia, C. Julius Quadratus,
honoured a child of eight years as a hero, at the prayer of his father
and mother;[336] and at Smyrna the parents of a dearly loved child of
four, raised to this baby as their tutelary god, a tomb on which an
epitaph described in detail all his illnesses.[337]

These sentimental illusions are eternal. Nothing is more frequently seen
on tombstones in our own Catholic cemeteries than such invocations as
“Dear angel in heaven, pray for us,” or even a figure of a winged baby
flying away among winged cherubs. This faith is perhaps touching, but
its orthodoxy is doubtful. For the doctors of the Church, except Origen,
have, I think, never adopted the doctrine of Philo the Jew that human
souls can be transformed into angelic spirits. But in the oldest
Christian epitaphs the conviction is already expressed that, since
children are without sin, they will be transported by angels to the
dwelling of the saints and there intercede for their parents. “Thou hast
been received, my daughter, among the pious souls, because thy life was
pure from all fault, for thy youth ever sought only innocent play,”[338]
says a metrical epitaph, once under the portico of St. Peter’s. And
another and older epitaph is as follows, “Eusebius, a child without sin
because of his age, admitted to the abode of the saints, rests there in
peace.”[339] Still others end with the words “Pray for us,” “_Pete pro

                  *       *       *       *       *

Thus little by little in antiquity the conviction gained strength and
became predominant that, as Menander said with another meaning, whom the
gods love die young.[340] As to individuals whose days were cut short by
a violent blow, they were not uniformly in the same case. The theorists
here distinguished among different categories of the _biothanati_.[341]
The classification seems to have originated with the astrologists who
claimed to enumerate, in accordance with the position of Mars and
Saturn, all the kinds of death reserved for victims of these murderous
planets, and to foretell whether these unfortunates were to be drowned,
burnt, poisoned, hanged, beheaded, crucified, impaled, crushed to death,
thrown to the beasts, or given over to yet more atrocious tortures. But
the moralists here also made a point of separating the innocent from the
guilty. Only the guilty were to suffer after death and only their souls
were to become demons. For, side by side with those who had deserved
capital punishment for their crimes, or who administered death to
themselves, were others cut off by a fatal accident, perhaps even killed
while performing a sacred duty.

Such was the case of soldiers slain in battle. Logic ordered the
theologians to place them among the _biothanati_, and so they are, for
instance, in Virgil’s sixth book of the Aeneid.[342] But death on the
field of honour could not be a source of infinite ills for them, and it
was generally admitted that, on the contrary, their courage opened for
them the gates of heaven.

                    “Virtus recludens immeritis mori

as Horace says.[343] The Greek theory of the divinity of the heroes here
comes to temper the severity of an unreasonable and dangerous doctrine.
According to Josephus,[344] Titus, when haranguing his soldiers,
promised immortality to such as fell bravely, and condemned the others
to destruction. “Who does not know,” he asked, “that valiant souls,
delivered from the flesh by the sword in battle, will inhabit the purest
of ethereal elements, and, fixed in the midst of the stars, will make
themselves manifest to their descendants as good genii and benevolent
heroes? On the other hand, souls which are extinguished when their body
is sick, vanish, even if they are free from all stain and defilement,
into subterranean darkness and are buried in deep oblivion.” In the
military monarchies of the Hellenistic East, as in the Roman Empire,
eternal life was certainly promised to those who had perished arms in
hand, faithful to their military duty. We know that the same belief was
transmitted to Islam: a Mussulman who dies in battle “in the way of
Allah” is a martyr (_shahîd_) to whom the joys of Paradise are assured.
The Jews, who had been reluctant to admit such ideas before, from the
time of the Maccabees onwards associated with warriors those who
sacrificed themselves in order to be faithful to their persecuted
religion, and to these especially they promised a glorious immortality.
Faith in this celestial reward was later to cause the Christians, who
won the martyr’s crown, to face all sufferings.

                  *       *       *       *       *

The treatment which the gods reserved for another class of _biothanati_
was more uncertain. In the Greek cities, as in Rome, moral reproof and
posthumous penalties were anciently attached to suicide. The old
pontifical law refused ritualistic burial to persons who had hanged
themselves; and instead of funeral sacrifices it prescribed for these
dead merely the hanging up of small images (_oscilla_) consecrated to
their Manes,[345]—probably a magical, “sympathetic” rite, which was
intended to purify their wandering souls by air, as other souls were
purified by water and fire. The horrible appearance of men who died by
strangulation had given rise to the belief that the breath of life had
vainly sought to issue from their tightly closed throats.[346] A rich
inhabitant of Sarsina in Umbria granted land for a graveyard to his
fellow citizens, but excluded from the benefit of his gift those who had
hired themselves as gladiators, had died by the rope by their own hand,
or had followed an infamous calling.[347] This association shows how
loathsome this kind of death was. Funeral colleges founded under the
Empire introduced into their rules a clause stipulating that if anybody
had for any motive whatsoever put himself to death, he should lose his
right to burial.[348] This provision seems to have been inspired less by
the fear that fraud would be practised on this society of mutual
insurance against supreme abandonment, than by the conviction that
funeral honours cannot deflect the curse which weighs on the suicide and
renders his company undesirable for other dead.

But there was against popular opinion and religion, which attached an
idea of infamy to self-murder, a philosophical reaction which, among the
Stoics, led to an entirely contrary moral judgment. The powerful sect of
the Porch caused the doctrine to prevail that suicide was in certain
cases commendable. It saw in this end the supreme guarantee of the wise
man’s freedom, and praised those who by voluntary death had withdrawn
from an intolerable life. Cato of Utica, who killed himself lest he
should survive liberty, was held to be the wise man’s ideal, and as
worthy of apotheosis as Hercules. He himself, who is shown to us by the
historians as reading and rereading Plato’s _Phaedo_ before he pierced
himself with his sword,[349] certainly hoped for the immortality of
heroic souls. Here, as on other points, the Neo-Pythagoreans, and the
Neo-Platonists after them, brought the minds of men back to the old
religious beliefs. Plotinus, yielding to the opinion which still
prevailed in his time, still authorises suicide in certain cases, but we
know that his exhortations dissuaded his pupil Porphyry from putting an
end to his days, when he was seized with a disgust for life. This latter
philosopher afterwards resolutely opposed the Stoic doctrine. Although
the soul, said the Pythagoreans and Platonists, is enclosed in the body
as in a prison, in order to suffer chastisement, it is forbidden by God
to escape therefrom by its own act. If it do so escape, it incurs from
the masters of its fate infinitely harder penalties. It must await the
hour willed by these masters, and then it can rejoice in the deliverance
which it obtains at the term of old age. If it itself break the link
which joins it to the body, far from ridding itself of servitude, it
remains chained to the corpse, for necessarily it is subject to passion
at the moment of death and thus contracts impure desires. The only
liberation worthy of the wise man is that of the soul which still dwells
in the body but succeeds in freeing itself from all fleshly leanings and
in thus rising, by the force of reason, from earth to heaven.[350]

The prohibition of voluntary death anticipating the hour fixed by
Providence for each man, was strengthened and enforced everywhere by the
Christian Church.

With yet more cause did those who had been condemned to capital
punishment seem to deserve posthumous torment and the pains reserved for
the impious. These maleficent spirits, transformed to demons, continued
to work harm to the human race. The odium which attached to the word
_biothanati_ ended by concentrating itself on these two classes—those
who had committed suicide and those who had been executed. The horror
which both inspired was marked by the withholding of honourable burial.
Even in pagan times, sacred or civil law in many places denied funeral
honours to children who died young, and to suicides—in order, says a
text,[351] that those who had not feared death might fear something
after death—and, above all, to criminals, whose corpses were not
deposited in a tomb but were thrown without any ceremony into a common
ditch (πολυάνδριον). In Rome persons executed in prison were dragged
with a hook through the streets to the Tiber, where they were flung into
the water. There was in the fact that they were deprived of funeral
rites a second reason, besides their guilt, for their suffering in the
Beyond.[352] Families and friends of the condemned endeavoured therefore
to spare them this fearful penalty, and could obtain from the
magistrates the surrender of their bodies to them. But the authorities
often refused this supreme consolation to Christians who wished to pay
this last duty to their martyred brothers. By scattering abroad the
ashes of martyrs the pagans hoped to prevent their graves from becoming
the sites of cults.

The denial of a religious funeral was also from the earliest time
onwards ordered by Church discipline and sanctioned by the Councils in
the case of suicides, and was similarly extended, in virtue of the law
in force, to malefactors. In the Middle Ages the corpses of criminals
were still to be seen carried to a shameful charnel-place in Byzantium.
For instance, the chronologist Theophanes[353] relates indignantly that
in 764 the iconoclastic Emperor Constantine Copronymus caused the arrest
of a hermit of Bithynia, who supported the cult of the images. The
emperor’s guards tied a cord round the monk’s foot and dragged him from
the praetorium to the cemetery, where, after cutting him to pieces, they
flung his remains into the ditch of the _biothanati_. Curiously this
word, _biothanati_, was derisively applied to the Christians themselves,
either because they adored a crucified Saviour, or in mockery of the
martyrs, who believed that through death by execution they earned a
glorious immortality. The poet Commodianus returns this insult by
applying the term to the pagans, whose way of life condemned them to
everlasting flames.[354] The opprobrious word remained in use until the
Middle Ages, when it denoted all whose crimes deserved capital
punishment, so that the final meaning of _biothanatus_ was gallows-bird,

If the meaning of the word _biothanati_ was thus restricted in the Latin
world, the old ideas which it called forth have had a singular vitality
in folk-lore, especially among the Greeks. The Greeks believe even today
that such as perish by a sudden and violent death became
_vrykolakes_.[356] Their bodies can again be reanimated, can leave the
grave, and can travel through space with extreme rapidity as vampires
and become so maleficent that mere contact with them causes loss of
life. Suicides and victims of unavenged murders are particularly
fearful. It was the custom as late as the eighteenth century to open the
grave of a dead man suspected of being a _vrykolakas_, and if his body
had escaped corruption, thus proving his supposed character, it was cut
into pieces or burnt in order to prevent it from doing further harm. So
lively did the belief remain that the _biothanatus_ could not detach
himself from his body, and that his existence, which had been too soon
interrupted, was prolonged in the tomb.


                       THE JOURNEY TO THE BEYOND

As soon as belief took shape in an underground kingdom where gathered
the shades which were separated from the body and from the grave, the
idea also arose of a perilous journey which the soul must make in order
to win to this distant abode. Such an idea is common to many peoples of
the world. In California, the Mojave Indians are said to believe that
the departed have to find their way through a complicated maze in search
of the happy hunting grounds, which only the good souls can reach, while
the wicked wander painfully and endlessly. We know what minutely
detailed rules are contained in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, rules to
which the deceased had to conform in order that they might travel safely
to the Fields of the Blessed. The Orphic tablets, discovered in tombs in
Italy,[357] have preserved fragments of another guide to the Beyond. For
instance, the tablet of Petelia, which goes back to the second or
perhaps the third century B. C., begins thus: “Thou shalt find to the
left of the house of Hades a well-spring, and by the side thereof
standing a white cypress. To this well-spring approach not near. But
thou shalt find another by the lake of Memory, cold water flowing forth,
and there are Guardians before it. Say ‘I am a child of Earth and of
Starry Heaven. But my race is of Heaven (alone). This ye know
yourselves. And so I am parched with thirst and I perish. Give me
quickly the cold water flowing from the lake of Memory.’ And of
themselves they will give thee to drink from the holy well-spring; and
thereafter among the other heroes thou shalt have lordship....”[358]

These instructions, which accompanied the member of the sect to his
grave,—he bore them about his neck like an amulet,—were supposed to
enable him to keep from straying in his posthumous wanderings and help
him to accomplish exactly all the acts necessary for his salvation. They
were a sort of liturgy of the other side of the grave which would ensure
eternal happiness to the faithful. “Courage (εὐψύχει); be valiant
(θάρρει); no man is immortal on earth,” such is the exhortation
frequently expressed in epitaphs. It probably reproduces a ritualistic
formula intended to sustain the shade which had to blaze its path in the

The Etruscans also had _libri Acheruntici_, books of Acheron which were
attributed to the sage Tages and which treated of the fate of the dead.
These made known, in particular, what were the rites by which souls
could be transformed into gods (_di animales_). Their very title betrays
a Greek teaching, and there are reasons for believing that the teaching
of the Pythagoreans was not without influence on their composition.[359]
It is hardly doubtful that they were concerned with the path which the
Manes of human beings must follow in order to go down into the infernal
regions. The Etruscan _stelae_ and cinerary urns often show this journey
to Hades: sometimes the dead are placed, like heroes, in a war chariot;
sometimes in a cart protected by a canopy and exactly copied from the
peasants’ carts; and often nothing would indicate that these travellers
are but shades, were not the significance of the scene defined by the
presence of some deity of the nether world, like Charon. The great
sarcophagus of Vulci in the Boston Museum bears a fine representation of
this type, where the character of the travellers is shown by a winged
Fury standing behind their carriage.

Thus the idea that the dead have to tramp a long road descending into
the depths of the earth before they reach their last abode, was accepted
in Italy as in Greece from a very ancient period. How did men imagine
this road? Their conception of it is connected with a whole group of
Pythagorean doctrines which go back to a remote age.

The old poetry of Hesiod already speaks of two roads of life, a short
and easy road which is that of vice, and the path of virtue, which is at
first steep and rugged but becomes less hard as soon as the top of the
slope is reached. Everyone knows the use which the sophist Prodicus
makes of this ancient comparison in the famous myth of Hercules at the
crossroads.[360] In it, two women appear to the youthful hero, and one
seeks to draw him to the path of deceitful pleasures while the other
succeeds in conducting him to the path of austere labours which leads to
true happiness. This same conception, which is transmitted through the
whole of antiquity, inspired the Pythagoreans with the symbol of the
letter Y, formed of a vertical spike topped by two divergent branches.
The spike is the road common to all men until they have reached the age
of reason and responsibility. Subsequently they must choose between the
right and the left branches. The former, say these moralists, is steep
and rough and at first requires strenuous effort, but when those who
climb it have gained its summit they obtain a well-deserved rest. The
other road is at first level and pleasant, but it leads to harsh rocks
and ends in a precipice over which the wretched man who has followed it
is hurled. This symbol was popular in antiquity as well as in the Middle
Ages, a fact of which a curious proof, additional to those in the texts,
has lately been found. This is a relief, accompanied by an inscription,
dating from the first century of our era, which has been discovered at
Philadelphia in Lydia.[361] It decorated, as the epitaph shows, the tomb
of a Pythagorean, and it is divided into compartments by mouldings in
the form of the letter Y. Below, to the right, a child is seen, in the
care of a woman who is designated as Virtue (Ἀρετή); above, a ploughman,
driving his plough, stands for the hard and persevering labour of the
good man, who, still higher, lies on a couch before a table like the
guest at a “funeral banquet” because he has obtained the reward of his
toil. On the left side there is also, below, a woman with a child, but
she stands for wantonness (Ἀσωτεία); above her a figure is indolently
lying on a bed; and still further above, the same figure is seen falling
into a gulf, head downwards, in chastisement of his vices.

These naïve scenes decorated, as we have said, a burial place. Many
other tombs are not so elaborate, but express the same symbolism by
opposing the hard labour of man, represented on the lower part of the
stele, to the rest which this same man enjoys on the upper part of the
stone, that is, in heaven.[362] The symbol of the Y was early applied to
the future life by the Pythagoreans, who transferred the roads
representing the courses of the moral and the immoral life to Hades.
Their stories of the descent to the nether world depicted the journey of
the dead in the same way, and it is still thus described in the sixth
book of the Aeneid. The dead first follow a common road; and those whose
lot is still undetermined wait in this first abode, just as on earth
children are not yet separate at the uncertain age at which they have
not yet made their decision for virtue or for vice. At the crossroads of
earthly existence the choice must be made; at the crossroad of the
infernal regions (τρίοδος) the judges of souls are seated,[363] and send
to the right those who have by their merits made themselves worthy to
enter the Elysian Fields, while they drive to the left the wicked who
are to be hurled into Tartarus. For in both worlds “right” is to the
Pythagorean, as to the soothsayers, synonymous with “good,” and “left”
synonymous with “evil.”

The original conception was necessarily transformed and explained
symbolically when the abode of virtuous souls was transported to heaven.
The stories of the ancients were no longer taken in their literal sense,
but an allegorical meaning, allowing them to be brought into harmony
with the new beliefs, was given to them. Henceforward one of the two
roads leads to the higher regions, the road, namely, of the Blessed
(ὁδὸς μακάρων) or of the gods. The other, the path of men, is that which
after long windings brings back to earth the impure souls who accomplish
the cycle of their migrations and must be reincarnated in new bodies.

A passage of Cicero’s _Tusculans_,[364] which is directly inspired by
the _Phaedo_ of Plato, is instructive as to the transformation which
ideas underwent. “There are,” it says, “two roads and two courses for
souls which issue from the body. The souls which are sullied with human
vice and have abandoned themselves to passions ... follow a crooked path
which leads them away from the dwelling of the gods; but for the souls
which have kept their innocence and purity and have, while in human
bodies, imitated the life of the gods, there is an easy return to the
beings from whose abode they descended to the earth.” In the same way
Virgil, as we have said elsewhere,[365] is apparently faithful to the
traditional topography of Hades, but does not regard it as really
situated in the underground. There were even attempts to fix precisely
the itinerary which souls had to follow in the upper spheres. Seneca
pleasantly ridicules these beliefs in his satire on the apotheosis of
Claudius, affirming that emperors went to heaven by the Appian Way. The
Milky Way, originally regarded as the path of the sun, remained,
according to an opinion which persisted until the end of antiquity, the
road by which gods and heroes rose to the zenith.[366] It was said to
cut the zodiac in the tropical signs of Cancer and Capricorn, and it was
there that those gates opened by which souls went down from heaven to
earth and rose from earth to heaven.[367] The former of these gates was
called the Gate of Men, the other the Gate of Gods.

We will return later (p. 162) to the theories which assign different
dwellings in the starry spheres to pure spirits and tell of their
passing through the celestial gates. We would merely note that the
allegory of the two roads, of which one is the road of God and heaven
and eternal life and the other that of Satan, hell and death, is found
in the most ancient Christian literature, and is justifiably likened by
Lactantius[368] to the Pythagorean Y, which is at the origin of all the
later symbolism.

                  *       *       *       *       *

But when the idea of a journey to the underworld had been transformed
into that of a journey to heaven, how was the power of the dead to reach
the upper spheres explained? What force or what vehicle raised them
thither? Originally they made use of all the means of locomotion. They
went on foot, in a ship, in a carriage, on horseback, and even had
recourse to aviation.

Among the ancient Egyptians the firmament was conceived as being so
close to the mountains of the earth that it was possible to get up to it
with the aid of a ladder. The early texts of the Pyramids describe the
gods helping the king to climb the last rungs of the ladder, when he
ascended to their high dwelling. Such ideas are found elsewhere, among
the Chinese as well as in Europe. We are told that a priest-king of a
people of Thrace joined tall wooden ladders together in order that he
might go to Hera to complain of his unruly subjects.[369] Although the
stars had been relegated to an infinite distance in space, the ladder
still survived in Roman paganism as an amulet and as a symbol. Many
people continued to place in tombs a small bronze ladder, which recalled
the naïve beliefs of distant ages. This means of attaining to the upper
world has been given to the dead man in several graves of the Rhine
border. In the mysteries of Mithras a ladder of seven steps, made of
seven different metals, still symbolised the passage of the soul across
the planetary spheres.[370] Philo, and after him Origen,[371]
interpreted Jacob’s ladder as the air through which the disincarnate
souls ascended and descended; and the patriarch’s dream in the symbolism
of the Middle Ages was still considered as a pledge of the ladder of
salvation leading the elect to heaven. A naïve miniature of the
illustrated manuscripts of St. John Climacus—one of them is preserved in
the Freer collection—shows monks climbing the heavenly ladder of virtues
and welcomed at the top by Christ or by an angel, while winged demons
try to pull them down and make them fall into the jaws of a dragon
below, which represents hell.[372] On the other hand, even in antiquity
the emblem of the ladder had been adopted by magic,[373] which retained
it throughout the centuries, and to this day little ladders are sold in
Naples as charms against the _jettatura_ or evil eye.

In Egypt the souls also travelled to the dwelling of the gods in the
boat of Ra, the solar deity. This idea does not seem to have passed into
the mysteries of Isis in the West but in the East it was retained by the
Manicheans. The moon and the sun were the ships which plied through the
heavenly spaces carrying the luminous spirits.[374] For the Greeks it
was to the Islands of the Blest, situated somewhere in the distant
ocean, that ships transported the dead. This crossing of the sea,
peopled by monsters of the deep, was one of the favourite subjects of
the decorators of Roman sarcophagi. But under the Empire the Fortunate
Islands, we know,[375] were often explained as being the moon and the
sun, washed by the ether, and it was therefore to the moon that the bark
of salvation had to bear souls across the stormy waters of matter. The
Styx had become a celestial or aerial river; Charon, with the help of
the winds, caused pious souls to pass not to the subterranean world but
to the heavenly dwelling of heroes.[376] The bark which should bear the
Blessed to the abode of delight, where they would live together, is
often represented in funeral sculpture,[377] and continued to be in
Christian art, the symbol of a happy passage to the shores of Paradise.
Epitaphs sometimes cause the passer-by to wish the dead “Εὐπλοῖ,” “A
happy voyage!”[378]

The Etruscan tombs often show the dead man on horseback on the road of
the underworld, and in early Greek tombs terra cotta shoes and horses
have been discovered which were intended to make easier the long and
dangerous journey to the country whence there is no return. But in order
that a rider may win to heaven his horse must be provided with strong
wings. Primitively these wings were probably intended to indicate only
the swiftness of this mythical steed.[379] But in Roman times they
undoubtedly meant that it could fly up to the sky. The great Paris
cameo, said to represent the apotheosis of Augustus, shows a prince of
his house, Germanicus or perhaps Marcellus, thus borne away by a winged
courser.[380] There is a similar representation on a coin which
commemorates the apotheosis of an empress, probably Faustina. The same
Pegasus, who probably has nothing in common with Bellerophon’s steed,
appears again on a fragment of a relief recently discovered in England
at Corstopitum (Corbridge-on-Tyne).[381] He is carrying off a personage,
probably an emperor, who wears the _paludamentum_ or military cloak and
has his head bound with a radiate crown, on either side of whom are the
Dioscuri, the symbols of the two celestial hemispheres. The dead are
mounted on Pegasus because he was brought into relation with the Sun,
who is the creator and saviour of souls.

For the same reason, because he was the sacred animal of Apollo, the
gryphon served this purpose. Thus in the medallion which decorates the
stucco vault of a tomb on the Latin Way this winged monster carries on
his strong back a veiled figure, covered with a long garment, who can be
no other than the shade of the dead man wrapped in the shroud.[382]

Throughout antiquity, however, the departed travelled most frequently in
a chariot, which had in the Roman period become the chariot of the
Sun-god.[383] The idea that the divine charioteer drives a team across
the heavenly field existed in very early times in Babylon and Syria, as
well as in Persia and in Greece. “The horses of fire and the chariot of
fire” which carried up the prophet Elijah in a whirlwind[384] are very
probably the horses and the chariot of the Sun. In the same way when
Mithras’ mission on earth was fulfilled, he was conveyed in the chariot
of Helios to the celestial spheres over the ocean, as we see on the
reliefs found in his temples, and the happy lot which the hero had won
for himself he granted also to his followers. The emperors in particular
were commonly reputed to become companions of the Sun-god after death,
as they had been under his protection in life, and to drive with him up
to the summit of the eternal vaults. According to a papyrus recently
found in Egypt,[385] Phoebus, when informing the people of the death of
Trajan and the accession of Hadrian, stated in set terms, “I have just
risen with Trajan on a car drawn by white horses, and I come to you, O
people, to announce that a new prince, Hadrian, has made all things
subject to him, by his virtue and by the fortune of his divine father.”
The writers and the figured monuments show us other deified rulers
winning to heaven in a similar way. At the very end of paganism an
oracle, addressing Julian the Apostate, predicted that he would be
“conducted to Olympus in a flaming chariot shaken by stormy whirlwinds,
and would reach the paternal palace of ethereal light.”[386] It was not
only princes who were privileged to be drawn by the swift team of the
royal star. The chariot appears on tombs of very humble persons to
suggest their lot in after life.[387]

Yet more rapid was another method of mounting up to the stars. Among all
the peoples of the eastern Mediterranean basin the idea was anciently
spread that the essence or the spirit which animates man escapes from
the body in the shape of a bird, especially a bird of prey, for in order
not to perish this soul must feed on blood, the principle of life. The
gravestones and funeral vases of Greece give us a large number of
representations of the bird-soul.[388] In the Roman period vestiges of
this conception persisted. In Syria an eagle with spread wings occupies
on tombs the place filled elsewhere by the portrait of the dead
man.[389] Magic had retained this ancient belief with not a few others,
for superstition picks up many ideas that have dropped out with the
progress of religion. Sorcerers asserted that they could cause wings to
grow from the backs of their dupes, so as to enable them to soar up to
heaven. One of the marvels which miracle-mongers most frequently boasted
of working was that of ascending into the air. The phenomena of
levitation are said to be produced at all periods. When writers tell us
that the pure soul “flies away” to the sky on swift wings, the
expression, which since Plato[390] has been often repeated, and is still
in use nowadays, is no mere metaphor but rather a traditional
expression, first taken in its material sense and preserved in language,
ultimately acquiring a figurative meaning. A late epigram composed on
Plato’s burial place[391] says: “Eagle, why art thou perched above this
tomb and why dost thou look at the gods’ starry dwelling?—I am the image
of Plato’s soul who has flown away to Olympus. The earth of Attica holds
his earth-born body.” Lucian in his Icaromenippus ridiculed the claims
of the philosophers, showing Menippus attaching wings to his shoulders
in order that he might take his flight to the stars and thus learn the
secrets of the world.

The original idea of the bird-soul was transformed into that of the soul
lifted aloft by a bird. It was in Syria that this change took
place.[392] A widely held belief in the Roman period was that the soul
was carried away by an eagle, which in Syria was the bird of the sun.
The sun being conceived as a winged disk which flew through the
celestial spaces could easily be connected with an eagle. The king of
birds was the servant or the incarnation of the star-king, to whom he
bore his precious burden. This is why an eagle, preparing for flight and
holding the crown of victory, is a usual motif of sepulchral decoration
at Hierapolis and throughout northern Syria. The powerful bird of prey
lifted not with his claws, as he did Ganymede, but on his back, mortals
who rose to heaven. This soul-bearing eagle passed to Italy with the
ceremonial of the apotheosis. At the funeral rites of emperors at Rome
there was always fastened to the top of the pyre, on which the corpse
was to be consumed, an eagle which was supposed to bear aloft the
monarch’s soul, and art frequently represents the busts of the Caesars
resting on an eagle in the act of taking flight, by way of suggesting
their apotheosis. The eagle, which is the bird of the Baals, solar gods,
carries to his master those who have been his servants and
representatives in the world below. This kind of aviation was not
peculiar to monarchs. The eagle often has this meaning in funeral art. I
will instance a stele, found in Rome and preserved in the museum of
Copenhagen.[393] On this a young man, draped in a toga, is comfortably
seated on an eagle, which is rising to the sky; to his right a winged
child, bearing a torch, seems to point out the way to him. It is
Phosphorus, the morning star, whom Roman art often represented in this
form, before the chariot of the Sun. An altar recalls the cult of which
the dead man will henceforth be the object on earth, and a wreath on the
pediment stands for the victory which he has won over death.

All these supposed methods of reaching heaven are most primitive: they
start from the supposition that a _load_ has to be lifted up; they
hardly imply a separation of body and soul; and they are antecedent to
the distinctions which philosophers established between different parts
of man’s being. They are religious survivals of very ancient conceptions
which only vulgar minds still interpreted literally. These mechanical
means of raising oneself to the starry vault carry us back to an
extremely low stage of beliefs. Hence theologians no longer accepted
them save as symbols. Other doctrines of a more advanced character were
developed and these constituted the true teaching of the great Oriental
mysteries, just as they had secured the adhesion of thinking men. They
connected the ascent of the soul after death with physical and ethical
theories and thus caused sidereal immortality to enter into the order of
the universe.[394]

The first of these theories was that of _solar attraction_. We have
already described the doctrine, certainly of eastern origin, that the
sun by a series of emissions and absorptions projected souls onto the
earth and drew them back to itself.[395] This unceasing action of the
resplendent luminary of day was exercised through the force of its
rays,[396] and very old Greek ideas here mingled with the “Chaldean”
theory. The Pythagoreans already believed that the glittering particles
of dust which danced ceaselessly in a sunbeam (ξύσματα) were souls
descending from the ether borne on the wings of light. The air, they
said, was “full of souls,” we might say “of germs” or “microbes.”[397]
They added that this sunbeam, passing through the air and through water
down to the depths of the sea, gave life to all things below.[398] This
idea persisted under the Roman Empire in the theology of the mysteries.
Souls descended upon the earth and reascended after death towards the
sky, thanks to the slanting rays of the sun which served as the means of
transport. The sun is the ἀναγωγεύς, “he who brings up from below.” On
Mithraic reliefs one of the seven rays which surround the head of Sol
Invictus (θεὸς ἑπτάκτις) is seen disproportionately prolonged towards
the dying Bull, in order to awake the new life that is to spring from
the death of the cosmogonic animal. “The Sun,” says the Emperor Julian,
“by the invisible, immaterial, divine and pure essence which dwells in
its rays, attracts and raises the blessed souls.”[399]

In this theory it is to the power of the Sun, the great cosmic divinity,
that the ascension of the soul is due. According to another doctrine the
cause of this ascension is the physical nature of the soul.

This latter doctrine is set forth with great precision by Cicero in the
Tusculan Disputations, and by Sextus Empiricus, doubtless after
Posidonius.[400] The soul is a fiery breath, that is to say, its
substance is the lightest of the four elements which compose our
universe. It necessarily therefore has a tendency to rise, for it is
warmer and more subtle than the gross and dense air which encircles the
earth. It will the more easily cleave this heavy atmosphere since
nothing moves more rapidly than a spirit. It must therefore in its
continuous ascent pass through that zone of sky where gather the clouds
and the rain and where blow the winds,[401] and which by reason of
exhalations from the earth is moist and misty. When finally it reaches
the spaces filled by an air which is rarefied and warmed by the sun, it
finds elements similar to its own substance and, ceasing to ascend, is
maintained in equilibrium.[402] Henceforth it dwells in these regions
which are its natural home, continually vivified by the same principles
as those that feed the everlasting fires of the stars.

We shall presently see how the Platonists modified this Stoic doctrine,
and substituted that of the “vehicle” (ὄχημα) of souls.

These theories made it easier than the first one had done to establish a
firm connection between ethical beliefs concerning future destiny and
physical theories about the constitution of the universe and the nature
of man. The soul is never conceived by these theologians as purely
spiritual or immaterial, but when it abandons itself to the passions it
becomes gross; its substance grows more corporeal; and then it is too
heavy to rise to the stars and gain the spheres of light.[403] Its mere
density will compel it to float in our mephitic atmosphere until it has
been purified and consequently lightened. Thus the door is opened to all
doctrines concerning punishment beyond the grave. We shall show in
another lecture[404] how the soul was to be purified by passing through
the elements which moved in sublunary space—air, water and fire.

But, side by side with physical ideas, mythological beliefs always
retained their sway. According to the common creed, the air was peopled
with troops of perverse and subtle demons. They were, it was thought,
the guilty souls whose faults condemned them to wander perpetually near
the surface of the earth. They took pleasure in inflicting a thousand
tortures on their fellow souls, when these, by their impiety, were left
defenceless against them. But succouring powers protected the good
against these perverse spirits. Thus the atmosphere became the scene of
an unceasing struggle between demons of every kind, a struggle in which
the salvation of the soul was at stake.

The dangers to which the soul was exposed did not always end when, after
having crossed the most dangerous zone of the air, it reached the
moon.[405] Those who believed that souls must pass through the planetary
spheres conceived these as pierced by a gate guarded by a commander
(ἄρχων) or, as they were also called, by toll gatherers (τελώνια). The
mystics claimed to supply their initiates with the passwords which
caused the incorruptible keepers to yield. They taught prayers or
incantations which rendered hostile powers propitious; by “seals” and
unctions they made their followers immune against the blows of such
enemies. These instructions, which were previously given to the dead in
order to facilitate their descent to the nether world (p. 148), now
served to make the ascent to heaven easy. In this matter the magicians
emulated the priests, even claiming to show to their clients the way
leading to heaven during life. The papyrus of Paris, wrongly called the
“Mithraic Liturgy,”[406] affords the most characteristic example of this
superstitious literature.

But, above all, the secret cults claimed to supply the soul with a guide
to lead it during its risky journey through the whirlwinds of air, water
and fire and the moving spheres of heaven. Plato in the _Phaedo_ had
already spoken of this demon leader (ἡγεμών) of the dead,[407] and the
same word is applied to the “psychopompos,” whether demon, angel or god,
not only by Neo-Platonist philosophers but also in epitaphs. Thus the
funeral inscription of a sailor, who died at Marseilles,[408] says:
“Among the dead there are two companies; one moves upon the earth, the
other in the ether among the choruses of stars. I belong to the latter,
for I have obtained a god for my guide.” This divine escort of souls
frequently retains the name of Hermes in conformity with the old
mythology, for Hermes is the Psychopompos who leads the shades to their
subterranean abode and moreover summons them and brings them back, in
another migration, to the earth. An epigram belonging to the first
century of our era apostrophises the deceased with these words: “Hermes
of the winged feet, taking thee by the hand, has conducted thee to
Olympus and made thee to shine among the stars.”[409] But often the rôle
of escort devolved on the Sun himself. We have seen (p. 157) that at the
end of paganism the star-king is figured as carrying mortals in his
flying chariot; and the emperor Julian, at the end of his satire on the
Caesars, represents himself as addressed by Hermes, who states that in
causing him to know Mithras he rendered propitious to him this
leader-god (ἡγεμόνα θεόν), who will enable him to leave the earth with
the hope of a better lot.

In these beliefs we see persisting to the end of paganism the old
conception that heroes could be carried off to heaven, body and
soul.[410] It was never entirely given up by popular faith, and appears
notably in ideas as to the apotheosis of the emperors, although learned
theology rose in arms against it and affirmed that nothing terrestrial
could be admitted into the ethereal spheres. Antinous and Apollonius of
Tyana are thus said to have been borne away and to have continued
without interruption the life they had begun on earth.[411]

                  *       *       *       *       *

We are thus brought to ask ourselves how, at the very time when the
conception of the journey of the dead was being transformed, the idea
entertained as to the physical character of the dead also underwent a
change. Let us, in conclusion, seek briefly to trace the course of this

Originally, as we said at the beginning of these lectures, two beliefs
as to life beyond the grave existed together. On the one hand, the
illusion was kept that the corpse which lay in the grave continued in
some obscure way to live, feel and nourish itself there. Side by side
with this simple faith the idea was maintained that the soul is a
breath, emitted by the dying man, which floats in the atmosphere and
which reproduces, when it makes itself visible in dreams and apparitions
or in remembrance, the outward appearance of the person from whom it

These two conceptions of life beyond the grave are combined in the
nature with which the inhabitants of the infernal regions are credited,
and give these fantastic beings a character full of contradictions.
Cicero justly remarks that acts are attributed to them which would be
conceivable only if they had bodies. Thus they are supposed to speak,
although they have neither tongue, palate, throats nor lungs.[413] The
common belief was indeed that the shades fed, even in their deep abode,
on the offerings made on their burial places; and the pains which might
be inflicted on them presupposed that they had retained the sensibility
and needs of men; while the pleasures accorded to them in the Elysian
Fields were in part very material—to participate in a banquet was an
essential part of them.[414]

Hence, when the dead showed themselves, they were sometimes given the
appearance not of the living being but of the corpse: it was the body,
as it was when buried, which issued from the entrails of the earth.
Ennius, when he showed Homer appearing to him in a dream, said that the
shades were “of prodigious paleness,”[415] and the idea is often
expressed that ghosts are bloodless in colour. Not only are their faces
wan: their mouths are mute; they are the _taciti_, the silent Manes.
Much more, it is sometimes in the form of skeletons that they return to
terrify men. The most usual way of figuring the soul in funeral
sculpture is to show a person completely wrapped, save for his face, in
a long garment, the shroud in which his body was buried.[416]

But on the other hand, side by side with this more or less unconscious
belief as to a survival of the body, the soul continued to be regarded
as a light breath. The beings who peopled the infernal regions were
imagined as almost immaterial forms. They were called “shades” (σκιαί,
_umbrae_) or “images” (εἴδωλα, _simulacra_). The former term implies,
besides the idea of a subtle essence, the notion that the inhabitants of
the dusky spaces underground were black, and this is in fact the colour
often given to them. It is also the colour of the victims offered them
and of the mourning garments worn in their honour. These sombre
phantoms, which passed unnoticed in the darkness of night, returned
after the sunset to haunt the houses of men, and this is why the
_Inferi_ or beings of the nether world are above all appeased by
nocturnal sacrifices.

The words εἴδωλον, _simulacrum_, _imago_, especially express the
complete resemblance of the dead to the living. Are not the beings who
return to talk with us in dreams exactly like the persons we have known?
This tenuous image was compared to the reflection seen on limpid waters
or on the polished surface of metal.[417] Both alike reproduced the
features and colour and imitated the movements of those whom they
faithfully expressed. This is why magicians often made use of mirrors in
order to evoke the spirits of the departed.[418] As to the nature of
these _simulacra_, the ancients agree in declaring them to be material,
for how otherwise could they convey sensual impressions? But their
substance is of an extreme subtlety. They are forms which are corporeal
but empty, flimsy, impalpable, often of such rarity that they remain
invisible. They are compared to the wind, for the wind is the air in
motion, to a vapour, to a smoke which escapes so soon as its restraint
is attempted.

This shade, formed of a light fluid, has a form which is necessarily
malleable and yielding. The fact is thus explained that souls can take
on various appearances and sometimes let themselves be seen as terrible
monsters, especially if they are the souls of criminals who have become
maleficent spirits.[419] Heroes, on the contrary, whose virtue has
enabled them to be borne to heaven, appear to be of more than natural
stature when they descend from the ether; they are surrounded by a
radiant nimbus, and their resplendent beauty strikes with admiration
those who perceive them.

But here the ancients were faced with the question as to whether that
part of the human composition which won to heaven was the same as that
which descended to the infernal regions.

As to this puzzling question there arose in the Alexandrian period a
theory unknown to ancient Greece,—we have already touched on this
point[420]—the theory that man is formed not of two elements but of
three, namely, the soul (ψυχή, _anima_), the shade (σκιά, εἴδωλον,
_umbra_, _simulacrum_) and the body (σῶμα, _corpus_). This doctrine
claimed to be justified by a passage in Homer, in fact an interpolation,
as to the apotheosis of Hercules, but it was manifestly borrowed from
Egyptian religion by the Pythagoreans of Alexandria. For Egyptian
religion is “polypsychic” and distinguishes different kinds of souls. So
the _ka_ or “Double” has been explained as a living and coloured
projection of the individual whom it reproduced feature by feature,
which inhabited the tomb, but could leave it and return to it as freely
as a man to his house. The _baï_, on the other hand, is thought to be a
more refined matter which enclosed a portion of the celestial fire and
which departed to another world. Certain Alexandrian Pythagoreans
therefore admitted that when the soul was not entirely purified, it
remained joined to its idolon in the infernal regions, which were for
them situated in the atmosphere, but they held that when it had entirely
freed itself from matter it rose towards the ether, and left only the
_idolon_ in the neighbourhood of the earth.[421]

This theory was to be variously transformed, but it is at the foundation
of all the subsequent development of the doctrines as to the return of
the soul to heaven. The triple division most usually adopted is not the
one I have just cited but the division into reason (νοῦς or πνεῦμα),
soul (ψυχή) and body. What becomes in this case of the image (εἴδωλον)?
The theologians assimilated it to the irrational soul or ψυχή, as
opposed to the higher understanding. This image thus became the seat not
only of vegetative and unconscious life—a theory which would be in
conformity with the Homeric sense of the word—but also of sensitive and
emotional life. This soul or shade at first remained united to the
_nous_, which it surrounded with its vaporous envelope. Even after it
had left the earthly body, reason was still imprisoned in an aerial
body: the two dwelt in the infernal regions, that is, in sublunary
space, until they had been purified by the elements. They then, as we
have seen elsewhere,[422] left the atmospheric Hades in order to be
admitted into the Elysian Fields, that is to say, into the moon. There
the thin veils in which reason was still wrapped were dissolved. Reason,
a sublime essence, rose again towards the sun and the higher spheres.

So the shades of the old mythology had become a garment of which reason
rid itself, when it left this lower world to attain to its celestial
home. But the theologians disputed at length on the origin of this
psychic integument. When it was admitted that the passions and emotions
were due to the action of the planets, the εἴδωλον, being conceived, as
we have said, to be the seat of sensitive life, had necessarily to be
formed in the seven spheres, through which the soul passed as it
descended to earth, and to be decomposed when it passed through them
again in its ascension.[423] This is the doctrine supported by the
Neo-Platonists. They merely apply a new name to this cloak of reason,
that of vehicle (ὄχημα), which is at first synonymous with εἴδωλον as
this word was last accepted. Plato in his myths had several times spoken
of the chariot (ὄχημα) in which souls ascended, especially in the famous
passage of the Phaedrus, where he depicted them as trying to follow the
course of the gods towards the summit of heaven,[424] and above all in
the Timaeus, where he says that God, having made men equal in number to
the stars, caused them to mount on these stars as on a chariot.[425]
This vehicle was, according to the philosopher’s late interpreters, an
ethereal envelope, analogous to the “astral body” of modern
theosophists, which grew thicker and thicker by the accession of new
elements, as the soul was gradually lowered to the earth;[426] and it
was by the composition of these elements that the temperament of the
newly born child was determined. This luminous body was attracted after
death by stars of the same nature as those whence it derived its origin,
and in particular by the sun, and it thus acquired a force of ascension
which once again bore divine reason to the highest point of the heavens.
We will not lay stress on the speculation of the last masters of the
school, such as Jamblichus or Proclus, who imagined, on the subject of
this subtle matter, yet more subtle distinctions and transformed the
former conception of the “vehicle.” It is enough that we have shown how
the old belief in the shades who peopled Hades was modified, when it
came to be thought that souls travelled in the air and among the
constellations, until at last the Platonist theory of the psychic
vehicle was reached.



How did belief in the sufferings of hell develop? of what elements was
it formed? through what vicissitudes has it passed?—these are questions
which it is difficult to answer precisely, for the reason that the pains
reserved for the impious in the Beyond were in the Greco-Latin world
taught especially by mystic sects, who placed them in contrast to the
bliss granted to the initiate. It is possible, however, to note the
genesis and general evolution of the opinions on this point which
reigned in the Roman Empire.

Already in the Odyssey three who are surpassingly guilty detach
themselves from the grey crowd of the shades who lead an uncertain life
in Hades—Tityus, Tantalus and Sisyphus.[427] All three committed grave
assaults on the gods, who in revenge condemned them to eternal torture:
the gigantic body of Tityus is unceasingly gnawed by vultures; Tantalus
is plunged in a pond the water of which flees from his eager lips, while
above him is a tree of which the fruit escapes from his hand as he
wishes to seize it; Sisyphus unendingly rolls to the top of a hill a
rock which always tumbles back down the slope. These souls, in order
that their suffering may be more cruelly felt, have in Hades a vitality
beyond that of the common run of the dead, who are pale, flimsy, half
animate phantoms.[428]

To this Homeric triad of sufferers especially chastised by the divinity,
further unhappy souls, whom an inexpiable crime had vowed to everlasting
pains, were afterwards added: Ixion turning on the wheel to which he was
fixed, Theseus and Pirithous enchained, the Danaïdes carrying water in a
leaking vessel, and others. Thus was formed a group of legendary
personalities whose crimes and punishments came to be the traditional
themes of every description and representation of Tartarus in poetry and
art until the downfall of paganism.

But these convicted souls were no longer conceived, as they were by
Homer, to be exceptional offenders on whom the gods avenged a personal
insult. They had come to be the prototypes of men who, for like faults,
would be similarly chastised, the terrible examples of the lot which
divine wrath reserved for all who provoked it. They were explained as
the incarnations of the different passions and vices, the
representatives of the various classes of sinners on each of which a
determined punishment was inflicted.

The first authors of this new conception seem to have been the Orphic
and Pythagorean theologians. Homer names only one class of criminals
whom the Erinyes torture beneath the ground, the perjurers. But here
again the motive of the punishment is a direct provocation of the gods;
by the formula of execration which ended their oath, the perjurers had
surrendered themselves to divine vengeance, if they broke their faith;
and this is why a place apart among the sufferers of the underworld was
always kept for them.

The Orphics, who were the first to separate in the underworld the region
of Tartarus from the Elysian Fields, were also innovators as regarded
the character of these contrasting dwelling-places. Notably, there was
among their books a Descent into Hades (Κατάβασις εἰς Ἅιδου), which
described its joys and pains. If the blessed were admitted to the
flowery meadows where they enjoyed the delight of a perpetual feast, the
profane, those who had not been purified by the rites of the sect, were
plunged in darkness and mire, which was either intended to recall the
moral uncleanness of all who had not taken part in the cathartic
ceremonies, or else implied that these shades were figured like the
penitents who, seated in the mud of the road, proclaimed their sins to

Orphism conceived the suffering undergone beyond the tomb as an
expiation. The soul which had not been able on earth to keep itself from
the pollution of matter and to escape from the passions, thus found
again the qualities which it had lost. After a fixed term, it returned
to another life wherein it had another chance to render itself worthy of
the lot of the Blessed—we shall speak presently of this transmigration.
Moreover, the intercession of the living in favour of the dead, the
sacrifices offered up on their behalf, could, according to the Orphics,
deliver them from their pains.

But the Orphics taught also that side by side with those who thus
purified themselves in infernal regions before returning to earth, there
were others, more guilty, who were vowed to eternal punishment. The old
Homeric belief was thus taken up and developed. The evil souls, whose
ways nothing could mend, were immured for ever in the underground
prison, where they became the companions of the great criminals whom
mythology plunged in Tartarus. This capital distinction between the two
classes of the inhabitants of hell, those condemned for a time and those
condemned in perpetuity, was transmitted down to Virgil and appears
distinctly in the Aeneid.

Infernal justice is a court of appeal from earthly justice. Like the
City,[430] Hades has its tribunal, but the judges who sit there are
infallible; it has its laws which are unremittingly applied to whoever
has broken those of his country; it has its executioners, responsible
for carrying out its sentences—the Furies, and later the demons.
Similarly, the pains of Hades are always conceived as an imitation of
those which were every day inflicted on criminals. The guilty were bound
in unbreakable chains, as in the prisons; the Erinyes struck them with
their whips, as they were flogged at the order of the magistrates;
fierce monsters bit them, as their bodies were thrown to the beasts or
devoured by them in an infamous charnel-place. The old custom of
retaliation continued to be followed in the other world, where the dead
were treated as in life they had treated their victims.[431] Elsewhere
we can recognise an imitation of the torments inflicted on the accused,
who were subjected to torture to make them confess their fault.

Penal law enacted a determined punishment for every kind of offence; the
law which ruled in Hades had similarly to inflict particular pains for
each kind of fault. This logical deduction led to a new development of
penalties beyond the grave. As gradually the moralists and criminalists
detailed and classified the breaches of divine and human law, so the
authors of apocalypses multiplied the categories of those who suffered
in the nether world. They imagined the most fearful tortures, in order
to frighten sinners and drive them to seek in some religious
purification a means of escape from so terrible a lot. In a myth which
Plutarch has introduced into his book on the belated vengeance of the
gods,[432] he shows us hypocrites, who have hidden their wretchedness
under the appearance of virtue, obliged to reverse their entrails so
that the inner side of them may be seen, haters who devour each other,
and misers plunged into and plucked out from lakes of burning gold, icy
lead and jagged iron.

The text which describes these sufferings of the other world in greatest
detail is the fragment of the apocryphal apocalypse of Peter, which was
found in Egypt some thirty years ago and dates at least from the second
century of our era. The vision of hell here opposed to that of heaven is
like a first sketch for the tragic picture of the dwelling of the damned
which Dante was to draw in his Inferno. The fragment enumerates a long
series of criminals who are punished by black-robed angels and receive
the treatment appropriate to the nature of their faults. Blasphemers are
hanged by the tongue; the mouths of false witnesses are filled with
fire; the rich who have been merciless to the poor roll, clothed in
rags, on sharp and burning pebbles. Other tortures are like the sports
of macabre fancy: thus adulterers are hanged by the feet, their heads
plunged in burning mud; murderers are flung into a cave filled with
serpents that bite them, the shades of their victims watching their

A learned philologist[433] has undertaken to prove that this repulsive
picture of the dwelling of the damned had its origin in the Orphic
books. If, however, he refers to ancient, genuine Orphism, he is
certainly mistaken. The light fantasy of the ancient Greeks never laid
heavy stress on the horrors of Tartarus; their luminous genius took no
pleasure in describing these dark atrocities.[434] There is no evidence
that they ever formulated, point by point, a penal code which applied in
the kingdom of Pluto. The Romans, whose legal mind might have led them
to do so, were kept from such aberrations by their lack of imagination.
Their infernal mythology remained rudimentary: even Virgil, who is the
interpreter of the Hellenic tradition, never alluded except in passing
to the infinitely diverse forms of crimes and their punishments.[435]
The Etruscans peopled the infernal regions with awful monsters: they
gave Charon and the Erinyes a wild semblance which recalls the devils of
the Middle Ages, but we never find them drawing up an inventory of the
breaches of the moral law in order that a punishment might be applied to
each of these.

Everything points to the conclusion that this infernal theology
developed in the East. The Egyptians described at length in the “Book of
the Dead” the pains of those who despised the precepts of Osiris, and
illustrated these sufferings with pictures. The only pagan writing in
which we find a classification of sinners and of their torments,
analogous to that contained in the revelation of the apocryphal gospel
of Peter, is the Mazdean “Book of Arta Viraf,” which, although of late
date, has antecedents which certainly go back very far. The Persian
religion, which more than any other brings the Spirit of Evil and his
hordes of demons into relief, was certainly not unconnected with the
development of infernal eschatology, even in the West, as is indicated
by the fact that these demons succeeded the Furies as executors of the
divine sentences. It was under the influence of these exotic religions
that the descriptions were propagated of refined tortures, terrifying to
the adepts of the conventicles in which they were revealed. The
mysteries which spread under the Roman Empire accentuated the contrast
between the delights of heaven and the sufferings of hell. These
esoteric sects gave birth to the literature which was to be perpetuated
through the Middle Ages, and inspire numbers of visionaries, poets and
artists. Certain authors of treatises on demonology in antiquity must
have revelled in inventing unheard-of atrocities, as later the
hagiographers took pleasure in describing the inconceivable torments
inflicted on martyrs.

Among all the forms of punishment that by fire predominates. The idea
that the Erinyes burnt the damned with their torches is ancient, and the
Pyriphlegethon is an igneous river surrounding Tartarus. Certain authors
went beyond this. Lucian in his “True Histories” describes the island of
the impious as an immense brazier whence rise sulphurous and pitchy
flames. Thus was born into the world in the Greco-Roman period a
doctrine which was to survive its fall and last to modern times. The
ancients certainly connected this infernal fire with the treatment
inflicted on those condemned to be burnt alive; but this exceptional
punishment could not inspire an eschatological conception which included
all the dead. The opinion has been advanced that the choice of fire was
due to the belief that this element purifies.[436] Fire would have been
at first the means of destroying, in the Beyond as in this world, the
uncleanliness of souls, before it became the instrument of their eternal
torture. But a scientific theory seems here to have influenced religious
faith. The physicians admitted the existence of an incandescent mass in
the interior of the earth, which produced volcanic eruptions and hot
springs. As Tartarus was situated in the uttermost depths of the
underworld, it was conceived as a vast brazier in which the sulphur and
bitumen vomited by the volcanoes were boiling for the punishment of

But this adaptation of the pains of Tartarus to contemporary physics
could not save them from philosophical criticism. While the pagan
priests, to the terror of credulous minds, imagined more and more
inhuman punishments for the guilty souls, the reaction of reason against
these cruel inventions necessarily gathered strength. We have seen
elsewhere how the polemics of philosophers forcibly attacked these
life-poisoning beliefs and succeeded in a great measure in destroying
them.[438] Even those who did not deny the future life rejected these
fables of hell. There was an attempt to save the principle of posthumous
retribution by replacing the doctrine of chastisement in Hades by that
of the metempsychosis. We now will try, while considering this theory of
transmigration in its various aspects, to show how such substitution was

                  *       *       *       *       *

The mind of savages does not, like our science, distinguish between
three kingdoms of nature. It supposes the same energy to animate all the
beings who surround us, all of whom are taken to be like ourselves. The
primitives often attribute human or even divine intelligence to beasts;
and the belief is found throughout the two hemispheres that the spirits
of the dead can incarnate themselves in animals and even lodge in
plants. Men refrain from the slaughter or gathering of certain species,
from eating their flesh or fruit, for fear of hurting a chief or
relative who has gone to inhabit them. This animistic basis is common to
a number of different peoples and is at the foundation of the system of

But that which makes the grandeur of this theory, which won countless
adepts throughout the centuries and the world, is that it transformed
this naïve idea, which had no moral bearing, into a doctrine of
retribution and liberation. To come back to the earth, to imprison
itself in a body which soiled and tortured it, became a punishment
inflicted on the guilty soul. The soul could not attain to supreme
felicity until it had purified itself by long suffering and had
gradually, through a cycle of rebirths, freed itself from carnal

It is infinitely probable that this doctrine of reincarnation in the
bodies of animals was in Greece a foreign importation. Herodotus thought
that it came from Egypt,[439] but it does not seem to have existed in
that country in ancient times in the form of a regular succession of
transmigrations. On the other hand, Greek metempsychosis shows a
resemblance, striking even in details, to one of the fundamental
conceptions of the religious thought of India, that of _samsâra_, which
was accepted as a dogma there long before the birth of Buddhism. The
most probable opinion is that this idea made its way across the Persian
Empire and thus reached the Orphics and Pythagoreans. It is, however,
not unlikely that, like Babylonian astrology, Hindu eschatology was
propagated as far as Egypt at a comparatively recent date, that is,
about the sixth century B. C., and that the information given by the
father of history may be at least partly correct, Egypt having served as
an intermediary between India and Greece.

We have not, however, to discuss here this problem of the origins of
metempsychosis, nor to follow the development of the doctrine in ancient
Greek philosophy. In the period with which we are concerned, it had
already long been traditional in the Pythagorean and Platonic schools,
it was not only a philosophical theory but also a tenet admitted by
several religions. We can leave unanswered the questions of whether, as
the ancients affirm, the Druids believed in it, being in this particular
disciples of Pythagoras, and of whether the Etruscans were persuaded to
it by the teaching of the philosopher of Croton. It is, however, certain
that transmigration was in the East an article of widely held belief. We
find it accepted by the mysteries of Mithras and by Manicheism, and it
survives to our own day in Syria among the sects of the Druses,[440] the
Yezidis and the Nosaïris.[441]

What was its form in the Roman period, and how was it brought into
harmony with traditional or acquired ideas as to the future life?

The descent of the soul from heaven to earth is a fall; the body is a
grave in which this soul is buried, a prison in which it is captive.
These old Pythagorean doctrines were unceasingly renewed and repeated
down to the end of antiquity. But the Orphic idea that this degradation
was the chastisement for an original sin, the consequence of a crime
committed by the Titans, who were the authors of our race, and that this
hereditary taint of guilt had to be atoned for by their descendants, was
either entirely forgotten or else, at the least, hardly regarded. The
equally ancient conception that a bitter and cruel necessity constrained
souls to incarnate themselves, was, on the contrary, emphasised in
consequence of the spread of astrological fatalism. Their alternate
descent and ascent was conceived as governed by a cosmic law, like the
progress and regress of the planets.[442] The cycle of eternal
generation (κύκλος γενέσεως) which is eternal, like the revolutions of
the heavenly bodies, causes mind to circulate through matter which it

This transmigration could be conceived in various ways. A first theory,
in which the influence of Stoic pantheism can be recognised, lays stress
on the identity of individual souls with the universal soul, of which
they are particles. One single divine principle awakens life in all
nature. It passes from being to being, quickening their various forms,
and that which is said to be death is no more than a migration. The
number of the souls that people the earth is determined from the
beginning; they change their dwellings but not their essence. Hardly has
the human soul left one body before it enters another. This continuous
travelling causes it to go through all the degrees of the animal
hierarchy. It will pass, successively, into a bird, a quadruped, a fish,
a reptile, and then return to man. This is why it is impious to devour
the flesh of our “lower brothers” and why the sage must practise
vegetarianism. Some thinkers, however, drawing logical conclusions from
the admitted premises, asserted that the life of the vegetable kingdom
derived from the same migration as that of the animal kingdom and that
the soul of man could enclose itself in plants. It was to this teaching
that Seneca alluded when he gave the name of _Apocolocyntosis_,
“Transformation to a Pumpkin,” to his satire on the apotheosis of the
emperor Claudius.

This eschatological doctrine had in reality nothing in common with
morality. If an uninterrupted chain unites the existence of all species,
if life propagates itself fatally from man to the lower beings, this
necessity seems to exclude all hope of posthumous reward. In order to
bring the need of a retribution in after life into agreement with the
belief in the fatal circle of migrations, it was stated that the good
entered the souls of peaceful and tame animals, the wicked those of wild
beasts. This is why Alexander of Abonotichos predicted to a devotee that
he would be in after life first a camel, then a horse, and end by being
a great prophet like himself.[443] Hermes Trismegistus even claimed to
know that the just became eagles among birds, lions among quadrupeds,
dragons among reptiles, dolphins among fish.[444] But the lot even of
these privileged souls might not seem very enviable. The moralists,
therefore, relaxed the rigour of the system and exempted noble spirits
from bestial degradation. All souls were no longer condemned to dwell in
the bodies of animals, but only those whose low inclinations had
assimilated them to brutes. They inhabited the species which best
conformed to their instincts. Thus debauchees became hogs in another
life; cowards and sluggards, fish; the light-minded and frivolous,
birds.[445] The pagan theologians ingeniously and laboriously
interpreted the story of Circe’s changing the companions of Ulysses into
beasts as an allegory of metempsychosis. _Circe_ became the _circle_ of
the reincarnations which were undergone by those who emptied the magic
cup of pleasure, and whence the wise Ulysses escaped, thanks to Hermes,
that is, to reason which instructed him.[446]

Transmigration thus became less an inevitable law of nature than a
punishment of the guilty. But this punishment did not overtake only
those who were reborn in animal shape. All physical defects and moral
taints, which afflict man from his entry into the world, were the
consequence of his crimes in an earlier life. The old Pythagoreans
combined the doctrine of the metempsychosis with that of the pains
reserved for the wicked in a hell beneath the earth. But we have seen
how the belief in the tortures of Hades was combated until it yielded
and was discredited.[447] Metempsychosis dared to do without these
incredible subterranean tortures and thereby acquired a new importance.
It supplied the means of maintaining the dogma of posthumous retribution
without imposing a blind faith in the foolish fables of the poets: souls
were held to pass immediately from one body to another without leaving
the earth, rising or sinking in the scale of beings in accordance with
their merits or demerits. Thus Hades becomes our corporeal life in which
we expiate the faults of a previous life. The Furies are the passions
which strike us with their whips and burn us with their torches.[448]
The ingeniousness of the theologians found an explanation for each of
the tortures described by the old mythology. Tantalus threatened by the
rock is the man obsessed by the fear of heavenly wrath; Tityus, whose
entrails are devoured by vultures, is the lover whose heart is gnawed by
care; Sisyphus rolling his rock becomes the ambitious man who exhausts
himself with vain efforts; the Danaïdes carrying water in a leaking
vessel, which empties as it is filled, are the insatiable souls who give
themselves up to pleasure and never have enough of enjoyment. Even the
old precepts of the Pythagorean school were twisted from their ordinary
meaning and became symbols of this eschatology. A popular tabu, admitted
by the sect, was formulated in the sentence, “If thou leave thy
dwelling, turn not round lest the Erinyes pursue thee.” The first
meaning of this prohibition, which is known to the folk-lore of many
places, is that to turn round as one leaves one’s house is to run the
risk of being assailed by the spirits who haunt the threshold. But the
doctors of Neo-Pythagorism did not thus understand the saying. For them,
the dwelling was the body, the Erinyes the passions: when souls left the
body they must not return thither or the passions would attach
themselves to them and make them their victims.[449]

                  *       *       *       *       *

Here, however, we touch on another form of metempsychosis. The ancients
make a distinction between the doctrine of reincarnation or
“reincorporation” (translating exactly the Greek word μετενσωμάτωσις),
and rebirth or palingenesis (παλιγγενεσία). This latter word is not here
taken in the Stoic sense of the eternal return of things, a series of
cosmic cycles in which the same phenomena are exactly reproduced.[450]
It is used to designate a transmigration separated by intervals, a
process which is not continuous. In the first kind of metempsychosis
there is, properly speaking, no rebirth, for the soul does not leave the
earth, but there unceasingly accomplishes its circular journey through
the living world. On the contrary, according to the second theory, it
does not immediately resume possession of a body. It remains
disincarnate for a long period of years—for Virgil as for Plato the
number is one thousand—and thus leads a double existence of which its
passages to this world take up only the lesser part. It is not even
fatally constrained to redescend to the earth: if it has kept itself
free from all corporeal defilement, it will soar to heaven and dwell
there for ever.

But if, during his sojourn on the earth, man has given himself up to the
pleasures of the senses, his soul becomes attached to his body. At first
it cannot separate itself from the corpse, around which it circles,
plaintively regretting the joys it has lost. It desires again to enter
the flesh which was the instrument of its voluptuousness; it seeks a
dwelling which will allow it to continue the sensual habits which have
become its second nature. And so, when the time is accomplished, it is
seized with an irresistible love for the body in which it is to enclose
itself again; a fascination, like a magic charm, draws it to this object
of its desires, which is to cause its misery. The fatality driving it to
incarnation and suffering is not here an inevitable law of the universe
but an inner necessity, a destiny which it has made for itself. The
cosmic _Ananke_ has become psychic.

Thus every vicious tendency contracted by the soul during its abode in
this world has for this soul consequences which their long duration
makes more momentous. If virtue enables it to rise upward at each new
birth and to acquire, as the ages revolve, an ever increasing
perfection, perversion of character produces effects which are
calamitous not only in this life but also in several other lives through
the centuries. Moral laws are no less infallible than physical laws.
Right or wrong, every act has to be paid for with harm or benefit in the
long chain of incarnations. By his acquired disposition, man determines
his future throughout a sequence of generations; the evil he suffers is
to be imputed not to the creator but to himself. A bust of Plato found
at Tivoli and now preserved in San Francisco[451] has graven on it the
following sentence of the Master as to the lot of immortal souls: “The
fault is the chooser’s; God is without fault”—Αἰτία ἑλομένω, ὁ θεὸς

The very fact of birth was a pain for the soul, since it tore it from
its celestial home and plunged it into a soiled and troubled world;
consequently it was not necessary for the soul’s chastisement that it
should descend into the body of animals. Indeed, certain thinkers
rejected this kind of metempsychosis: a reasonable spirit could not,
they held, dwell in a being deprived of reason. Transmigration occurred
therefore exclusively from man to man and from beast to beast. Such was
the opinion defended by Porphyry and Jamblichus, who, in order to
dispose of the texts of Plato which were contrary to this theory, upheld
that he spoke figuratively, and that his “asses,” his “wolves” and his
“lions” signified persons who resembled these beasts in ignorance or

It is seen that this metempsychosis was getting far away from that which
had its origin in the primitive beliefs. The “cycle of generation” was
no longer conceived as a flux of life circulating throughout the variety
of the animate beings peopling the earth, but as the descent and the
ascent of a psychic essence, passing alternately from heaven to earth
and from earth to heaven.

It is to these doctrines that Virgil alludes when in the Aeneid he shows
us, gathered in a remote place of the Elysian Fields, the shades whom
after a thousand years a god calls to come in a great troop to the river
Lethe, there to drink the forgetfulness of the past, whereby “they begin
again to wish to return to the body.”[453]

                  *       *       *       *       *

But the poet also gives us precious hints as to the lot reserved for the
soul in the interval between its incarnations. For palingenesis, unlike
the doctrine of perpetual reincorporation, left a place for chastisement
in the infernal regions. These were however situated, as we have seen,
for the Pythagoreans and Posidonius, whom Virgil interpreted, not on
earth but in the air. It was there that the soul had to purify itself
from the stains acquired while it was in touch with the flesh. This
pollution, we know,[454] was conceived in a very material form. The
texts speak of a thickening of the subtle substance of which the soul is
formed, of concretions encrusting it, of indelible marks with which the
vices stain it. When the soul left the corpse, of which it kept the
form, it first, as we have seen, floated in the ambient air. When it was
not weighed down by the matter with which it had become impregnated, the
breath of the atmosphere raised it gently and, gradually warming it,
bore it to the heavens, and this is why the Winds are often represented
on tombstones.[455] But these Winds, fierce divinities, could also cause
the soul to expiate its faults bitterly. If it had lost its purity and
lightness, the whirlwinds drew it into their vortex, the storms rolled
and buffeted it, thus violently tearing away the crust which had become
attached to it. The souls were thus freed from defilements contracted
during life just as linen hung in the air is bleached and loses all

Their passage through the air did not complete their purification. In
the East the idea was old that above the firmament was found the great
reservoir of the waters which fell to the ground as rain. Beyond, a
burning zone must extend, where the heavenly bodies were lit, and a
river of fire, identified with the Pyriphlegethon of the Greeks, was
imagined. These old mythological ideas were brought into relation with
Stoic physics: above the region of the winds stretched that of the
clouds, in which the rain, the snow and the hail were formed, and higher
still there was the burning air, in which the lightning flashed and
which touched the starry spheres. The souls must blaze a path through
these obstacles. After being tossed and blown about by the winds, they
were drenched by rain and plunged into the gulf of the upper waters.
They reached at last the fires of heaven, of which the heat scorched
them. Not till they had undergone this threefold trial, in the course of
which they had passed through countless years of expiation, did they at
length find peace in the serenity of the luminous ether.[456]

Virgil,[457] in the passage already quoted, alludes to this doctrine
when, in speaking of the souls, he says:

                        “... Aliae panduntur inanes
              Suspensae ad ventos, aliis sub gurgite vasto
              Infectum eluitur scelus, aut exuritur igni.”

“Some are exposed, hung lightly to the winds; as to others, the crime
infecting them is washed away in a deep gulf or burnt by fire.”

In an eschatological myth, which Plutarch[458] borrows from Demetrius of
Tarsus, he shows us guilty souls who seek to reach the moon and who do
not arrive thither, but are hunted and buffeted as by swelling billows,
and others who have reached the goal, but are rejected and plunged from
on high into the abyss. Similarly, Hermes Trismegistus depicts souls
flung from the height of heaven into the depths of the atmosphere and
delivered to the storms and whirlwinds of warring air, water and fire.
Their eternal punishment is to be tossed and carried in different
directions by the cosmic waves which roll unceasingly between earth and

The passage of souls through the elements is represented symbolically on
a funeral monument almost contemporary with the verses of Virgil, which
was discovered near Scarbantia in Pannonia.[460] Above the portraits of
the deceased, there appear first in the spandrels of this _cippus_ two
busts of the winds facing each other. Higher up, on the architrave, are
two Tritons, and on each side of a trident two dolphins, which evidently
represent the idea of the watery element. Finally, at the top of the
stone, in the pediment, we see two lions. The lion, for physical and
astrological reasons, was considered as the symbol of fire, the igneous

We have seen[461] that for the doctrine which placed the limit of the
dwelling of the gods and the elect in the zone of the moon, another was
substituted according to which the souls, in order to regain the purity
of their original nature, had to traverse the spheres of the planets to
reach the heaven of fixed stars. The trials of purgatory had to be
prolonged up to the entry into the dwelling of the blessed. The idea
was, therefore, conceived of attributing each of the planets to one of
the elements. The moon was the ethereal earth, Mercury the water, Venus
the air, the sun the fire: and inversely, Mars was the fire, Jupiter the
air, Saturn the water, and the sphere of the stars the celestial earth,
in which lay the Elysian Fields. Thus the soul, in order to be saved,
had to be reborn three times in virtue of a triple passage through the
four elements.[462]

This last doctrine, which is connected with astrological speculations,
seems to have had only a limited vogue and to have been of ephemeral
duration. On the other hand, the idea of a purgatory situated in the
atmosphere between our earth and the moon, a place in which souls were
purified not only by fire but also by air and water, was long to survive
the fall of paganism and to be propagated through the Middle Ages in the
West as in the East. For Dante, purgatory still occupied a fiery zone
stretched between the terrestrial and the celestial circles.

                  *       *       *       *       *

Was the soul which, after a long expiation, had reached the Elysian
Fields and the sphere of the stars, always to descend thence, seized
with a blind love for the body, and to pass again through the trials of
another earthly life? No, the ancient Orphics already flattered
themselves that by their cathartic rites they obtained for the soul an
escape from the fatal cycle of generation and regaining of heaven for
ever. The Pythagoreans inherited this doctrine, which they kept until
the Roman period. In spite of the contrary opinion of certain thinkers,
pagan philosophers and priests generally taught that after pilgrimages,
more or less long, after a succession of deaths and rebirths, the
purified spirits returned to dwell for ever in their celestial country.
It was to this goal that the mysteries promised to lead their initiate;
this was the end which the sages flattered themselves that they attained
by their virtue.

It will be understood that such a hope, combined with the suppression of
eternal damnation in Hades, led necessarily to the doctrine of the
eventual salvation of all souls. We know this system especially through
Origen, but he merely reproduced a theory to which the evolution of
pagan ideas had led.

We have seen that metempsychosis helped the philosophers to shake, if
not to ruin, the belief in infernal punishment. But this belief again
had power towards the end of antiquity, when the dualist sects which
were the outcome of Persian Mazdeism were propagated and when Plato
became the supreme authority in philosophy. We touched on this point, in
another lecture,[463] when we showed how the idea of a demons’ prison in
the bosom of the earth triumphed.

Thus, when the Roman world was in its decline, men came back to the old
threefold distinction of the Orphics and the Pythagoreans. The very
guilty, who cannot be corrected, are hurled into Tartarus, where they
suffer for ever the punishment of their incurable wickedness. Souls less
corrupt are subjected to purification, either by passing through the
elements or by undergoing successive reincarnations, and thus they
regain their original nature before they are readmitted to their first
dwelling. Finally, the most perfect souls, those of the wise who have
freed themselves from the domination of the body and have not let
themselves be contaminated by matter, and those of the pious faithful,
to whom religious lustrations have given back their purity or whom
initiations to the mysteries have made equal to the gods, at once rise
again to the celestial spheres.

In the next lecture we shall speak of the rewards reserved for them in
the dwelling of the blessed.


                      THE FELICITY OF THE BLESSED

We have seen how the evolution of religious faith caused the
dwelling-place of the dead to move from the tomb to the nether world and
from the nether world to the heavens. When the abode of souls was
changed, all the ideas attached to the future life had to be transposed.
In this lecture we shall endeavour to make clear how the opinions which
were held as to the felicity of the blessed were thus transformed. We
shall take up again matter which we have already touched upon in another
connection and try to show the successive changes undergone by three
manners of conceiving happiness in after life: the repose of the dead,
the repast of the dead, and the sight of God.

The most ancient and originally the simplest of these conceptions was
that of the repose of the dead. We know[464] that the dead who had not
been buried in accordance with the rites were believed to find no rest
in the tomb. A corpse had to be committed to the earth with traditional
ceremonies in order that the spirit which animated it might have quiet.
If this spirit were not subsequently nourished by offerings and
sacrifices, it left its burial place and roamed the earth’s surface like
an animal driven by hunger. The shades inhabiting the tombs could also
be evoked by necromancers and such disturbance broke in upon their rest
most unpleasantly.

These archaic ideas were so deeply implanted in the popular mind that
other beliefs never expelled them, but supervened and existed side by
side with them without causing their disappearance.

On tombs of the imperial period formulas like the following are often
read: “_Hic requiescit_,” “Here rests,” “_Quieti aeternae_,” “For
eternal rest”—inscriptions which could be interpreted figuratively; but
other wishes can only be taken to have a material sense, such as: “_Ossa
quiescant_,” “May his bones rest,” and “_Molliter ossa cubent_,” “May
the bones lie softly.” Poetry has preserved a number of similar phrases.
Tibullus expresses the following wish for a loved woman: “May thy
slender form rest well beneath the soft earth.”[465]

The rest which the exact accomplishment of the rites gave to the dead
was not physical only but moral also. The dead were _securi_—the word is
properly applied to them—that is, they were exempt from care. Doubtless
the care from which they were delivered by the cult of the grave, was
first that of suffering from hunger and thirst,[466] but the “eternal
security” (_securitas aeterna_)[467] they enjoyed was also the absence
of all the fears and anxieties which haunt humanity.

When philosophy claimed to free souls from the superstitions of the
past, it did not destroy the old conception of rest in the tomb but
cleansed it from all material alloy. If it be doubtful whether anything
of man survives, it is at least certain that death marks the abolition
of the pains of this world and the end of its troubles. _Mors laborum et
miseriarum quies_, is Cicero’s definition.[468] Death restores us to
that state of tranquillity in which we were before our birth.[469] The
“eternal home” which shelters the remains of man is the silent temple in
which he no longer has anything to fear from nature or from his fellows.

The Epicureans who made _ataraxia_ their ideal of life, the Stoics who
found theirs in impassivity (ἀπάθεια), could see in the anaesthesia of
death the supreme realisation of such absence of emotion and passion.
The corpse lies as softly on its last bed as a man plunged in a deep and
quiet sleep. The burial place is indeed often consecrated to _Somno
aeterno_.[470] This idea is expressed in a thousand forms in literature
and in epitaphs. A poor grammarian of Como, who doubtless had had little
reason to congratulate himself on life, caused two lines of verse to be
engraved on his tomb:[471] “I fled the miseries of sickness and the
great ills of life; I am now delivered from all its pains and enjoy a
peaceful calm.” On an African grave there are the following words:
“After bearing a heavy burden and after manifold toils, he speaks no
more, content with the silent dwelling in which he rests.”[472] We read
elsewhere, “Life was a pain, death prepared me rest.”[473] The sentiment
expressed by these inscriptions and many more like them is no mere
reflection of the teaching of philosophers who denied the future life:
it is profoundly human. The melodious but melancholy apostrophe of
Leconte de Lisle is well known:

         “Et toi, divine mort, ou tout rentre et s’efface,
           Accueille tes enfants dans ton sein étoilé;
         Affranchis nous du temps, du nombre et de l’espace
           Et rends nous le repos que la vie a troublé.”

         “O Death divine, at whose recall,
         Returneth all
           To fade in thy embrace,
         Gather thy children to thy bosom starred,
           Free us from time, from number and from space,
         And give us back the rest that life has marred.”[474]

In the midst of all the tribulation of our tormented existence, to how
many minds, even those which have the strongest religious conviction,
have not the immobility and insensibility of those who are no more
sometimes seemed like a deliverance? In antiquity also, this aspiration
towards the moment when man will obtain remission of all his travail
does not necessarily imply the belief that there is no hope beyond the
cold sleep of the grave. This yearning mingles with faith in immortality
and is transformed with it.

When it was believed that the dead went down into the depths of the
earth where lay the infernal kingdom, another meaning was given to their
rest. The funeral eulogy of a noble woman who towards the end of the
Republican period saved the life of her husband, who had been
proscribed, ends with the naïve words: “I pray that the gods thy Manes
may grant thee rest and thus protect thee.”[475] The shades of the
kinsmen of the dead must receive their souls in the subterranean
world[476] and thus ensure their welfare. The road which must be
travelled before the abode of the elect was reached was long and beset
with dangers. The Book of the Dead in Egypt, the Orphic tablets in
Greece, were guides to the Beyond which taught the dead not to stray
from the right path and to avoid the various dangers threatening
them.[477] Many of them, the impious who had to expiate their misdeeds
and the unfortunate to whom funeral duties had not been rendered,
wandered wretchedly on the banks of the Styx, vainly longing to enter
the “peaceful abode” of the Elysian Fields.[478] There, lying in the
cool shade, the blessed enjoyed a felicity exempt from all care. Serene
quiet in a sweet idleness cheered by joyous relaxation and wise
conversation—such was the ideal which some mysteries[479] opposed to the
weary agitations of earthly life and to the long sufferings of the
sinful and vagabond soul. For the adepts of these doctrines the _secura
quies_ applied to the repose of the nether world, and this conception of
beatitude beyond the grave is found to persist until the end of

But we have seen that another doctrine triumphed in the Roman period,
the doctrine that souls rise to the skies to live there eternally among
the stars. In this great metamorphosis of eschatological beliefs what
became of the idea of the repose of the dead? The question deserves to
be more closely investigated, for the transformation had lasting
consequences of which the ultimate effects can be felt even today.

The Pythagoreans were, as we have seen,[481] the first to promulgate the
doctrine of celestial immortality in Greece and Italy. One of the
allegories familiar to the teaching of the sect connected human destiny
with the old myth of Hercules at the crossroads. The Greek letter Y, of
which the stem divides midway into two, was in the school the symbol of
this comparison—we have already alluded to it elsewhere.[482] When man
reaches the age of reason two paths are open to him. One is smooth and
easy but ends in an abyss: this is the way of pleasure. The other is at
first rough and jagged—it is the hard road of virtue—but he who climbs
to the summit of its slope can there _rest_ deliciously from his
weariness. Funeral reliefs represent this contrast naïvely: at the
bottom of the stele the dead man is often seen accomplishing the labours
of his career; at the top of the stone he is shown stretched at his ease
on a couch.

The meaning of the allegory is immediately apparent: the _quieta sedes_
in which deserving souls are received, has become the sky. How was this
idea developed?

Homer[483] had already described Olympus as “the immovable seat of the
gods which is neither shaken by the winds, nor wet by the rains, nor
touched by the snow, but is bright with a cloudless light.” The
Epicureans applied these lines of the poet to the serene dwelling where
nothing occurred to modify the perpetual peace enjoyed by the gods.[484]
And the founder of Stoicism had already taught that the pious souls,
separated from the guilty, inhabited “tranquil and delectable”
regions.[485] Both called this dwelling of the gods or the elect by the
same name—_sedes quietae_.

We must here remember the distinction, established by the philosophers
and often repeated, between the sublunary circle and the celestial
spheres.[486] Above, the world of the eternal gods; below, the world of
generation and corruption. There the pure ether always kept the same
serenity; here the struggle of the elements called forth unceasing
agitation and transformation. On one side reigned peace and harmony, on
the other war and discord. The zone of the moon was the boundary between
the two contrasted parts of the world, and “the limit between life and
death.”[487] It was when they had crossed it, that the souls entered the
_quietae sedes_ of the Blessed.

The very ancient idea of a fearful journey which the dead had to make in
order to reach Pluto’s subterranean kingdom was transferred to the space
lying between the earth and the moon, for this was the region of the
universe to which the name of nether world (_Inferi_)[488] was
henceforth applied. As we have seen in the previous lecture,[489] when
the soul, escaping from the body, was laden with material dross, it was
tossed about for many centuries before it could again win to the ether.
Shaken by the winds, swept to and fro by the opposing elements of air,
water and fire, it had to endure a long torture before it was cleansed
of the sin which weighed it down. When at length it was freed of every
fleshly taint, it escaped from inward trouble also, from the pains and
the passions provoked by its union with the body. “Then,” says Seneca,
“it tends to return to the place whence it has been sent down; there
eternal quiet awaits it when it passes from the confused and gross to
the clear and pure.”[490] In the same way certain Neo-Platonists taught
that souls which had lived well, rose to the celestial heights and
rested there amid the stars. Even in this life the ecstasy, which gave
them anticipated enjoyment of the future bliss, is described by them as
a transport in which reason attains to absolute stability or equipoise,
escapes from all movement and rests in the Supreme Being.[491] Peace in
the celestial light: such is the highest form which the repose of the
dead assumed in paganism.[492]

The various ideas which we have just analysed—those of the repose in the
grave, the repose in the infernal regions and the repose in
heaven—followed parallel courses during the centuries and in part passed
from antiquity to the Middle Ages. But the distinction between them is
not always clear. Even in paganism they were intermingled and in the
course of time they were gradually confused. In no class of beliefs is
the force of tradition greater than in those which centre in death, and
the Christian peoples clung tenaciously to articles of faith which Jews
and pagans had shared before them.

We have seen[493] that the masses did not easily give up their belief
that the dead continued, in or about the tomb, a vegetating and
uncertain life. Extreme importance was still attached to burial because
the more or less unconscious conviction persisted that the soul’s rest
depended on that of the body. The dread of ghosts was still the
inspiration for some ceremonies performed over the remains of the dead.
Nay, a new apprehension was added to this, namely, the fear lest the
dead whose bodies were torn from the tomb should have no part in the
resurrection of the flesh.[494] The formula, “_Hic requiescit_,” “Here
rests—,” was transferred from pagan to Christian epigraphy, and the rest
men wished to the departed was first the rest of the corpse, which was
peacefully to await the Day of Judgment in its last dwelling.

These were doubtless vulgar prejudices rather than dogmas recognised by
orthodoxy, yet they did not remain without influence on the teaching of
the doctors of the Church. For instance, Saint Ambrose[495] enlarges on
the thought, probably borrowed from some philosopher, that death is good
because in it the body, source of our uneasiness, our troubles and our
vices, rests, calmed for ever, while the virtuous soul rises to heaven.
After the travail of existence the dead rest as man rests on the Sabbath
day, and this was, it was explained, the reason why the seventh day was
the day of the commemoration of the departed.

The idea of rest in the infernal regions has left no deep traces on the
Christian faith, for which the subterranean world became the abode of
the wicked. It was, however, somewhere in the bowels of the earth that
the dwelling of the righteous who lived before the Redemption was
commonly placed, sometimes also that of children who died unbaptised.
They found there according to the Pelagians a “place of repose and
salvation” outside the kingdom of heaven.[496]

But in Roman times the idea of peace in the celestial light was dominant
among the Jews and Christians as among the pagans. Thus the Book of
Enoch shows us the prophet carried off in a whirlwind to the heights
whence he perceived “the beds where the just rest” amid the saints.[497]
We can here point out exactly the most important of the literary
intermediaries through whom this conception was transmitted from
paganism to Judaism and from Judaism to Christianity. Towards the end of
the first century A. D., amid the desolation which followed on the
destruction of the Temple, a pious Jew, somewhere in the East, composed
and ascribed to the venerable authorship of Esdras an apocalypse which
enjoyed singular popularity until the time of its rejection by the
Church as apocryphal. The visionary who set it down combines a number of
pagan reminiscences with biblical ideas. He promises eternal felicity to
the just, and asks himself what will be the lot of souls between the
time of their death and the end of the world. Will they be at rest or
will they be tortured? And the angel who inspires him answers that when
the vital breath has left the body to go again to adore the glory of the
Most High, the soul which has violated the divine law will not enter the
celestial dwellings but will “wander amidst torments, for ever suffering
and saddened on seven paths.” But the soul which has walked in the way
of God “will rest in seven orders of rewards.”[498] The sixth of these
is the order in which its face begins to shine like the sun and in which
it becomes incorruptible, like the stars; the seventh is that in which
it wins to the sight of God.

These are conceptions and even expressions which belong to astral
immortality, and the Jewish author, like the pagans before him,
everywhere contrasts the state of agitation filled with anguish reserved
for the guilty with the blessed tranquillity which is the reward of a
pious life.[499] The description of the celestial dwelling which Saint
Ambrose borrowed from the pseudo-Esdras is singularly like that given by
the philosophers of the earlier period: a place in which there is no
cloud, no thunder, no lightning, no violence of winds, neither darkness
nor sunset, neither summer nor winter to vary the seasons, where no cold
is met with, nor hail, nor rain. But the Christian doctor, like the
Jewish visionary, adds a new feature: there will be no more sun nor moon
nor stars; the light of God will shine alone.[500]

The idea of repose in the eternal light was, thanks to the apocalypse of
the supposed Esdras, to become one of those most frequently expressed by
epitaphs and ritual. It was from this apocryphal work that the Roman
liturgy borrowed the form of a prayer introduced into the office of the
dead at least as early as the seventh century and still sung in the
funeral service—_Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine et lux perpetua luceat
eis_. “Lord, give them eternal rest and may perpetual light shine upon

                  *       *       *       *       *

The idea of the repast of the dead evolved, like that of their repose,
as the conception of life beyond the tomb was gradually transformed, and
it finally assumed a far higher significance than that originally
attributed to it.

According to a belief found everywhere, the dead, as we know,[501]
needed nourishment if they were not to suffer from hunger. Hence the
obligation to make libations and sacrifices on the tomb and to deposit
food and drink there. The neglect of these sacred duties entailed
consequences fearful to him who failed to fulfil them, just as their
exact observance ensured him the good will of the spirits of the dead.

The custom of holding banquets which united the members of a family
beside a grave at a funeral or on certain consecrated days, was
connected with this belief. This custom was no mere rendering of an
honour to one who had gone, no unmixed manifestation of piety or
affection. The motive for these ceremonies was much more concrete. As we
have stated elsewhere,[502] men were persuaded that the spirit of him
who lay beneath the ground was present at the meal, took its place
beside its kin and rejoiced with them. Therefore its share was set aside
for it, and by consecrated formulas it was invited to drink and eat.
Moreover the guests themselves ate copiously and drank deeply, convinced
that the noisy conviviality of the feast was a source of joy and
refreshment to the shade in the gloom of its sepulchral existence.
Sometimes the dinner took place in a room within the tomb, specially set
aside for such meetings, sometimes in one of the gardens which men
delighted to make around the “eternal house” of the dead[503] and to
which inscriptions sometimes give the name of “paradise”

These are customs and ideas which are found everywhere from the time
when history had its origin, practices and ideas to which under the
Roman Empire the people still clung, and which even partially survived
the conversion of the masses to Christianity, although the Church
condemned them as pagan. Until the end of antiquity and even in the
Middle Ages, banquets, at which wine flowed abundantly, were still held
on anniversaries by kinsfolk and friends near the remains of those they

When, however, the conception of survival in the tomb was superseded or
overshadowed by that of survival in the nether world, the repast of the
dead was also transferred thither. Henceforth it was in the Elysian
Fields that pious souls could take their place at the table of the
Blessed. The Orphics were the first to introduce into Greece this new
idea, which was, however, no more than the development of a pre-Hellenic
belief, and it spread through the mysteries of Dionysos[506] to every
part of the ancient world: the ritualistic repasts in which the initiate
took part, the drunkenness which exalted their whole being, were for the
adepts of this cult at once a foretaste and a warrant of the happiness
reserved for them in that eternal feast of the subterranean world in
which a sweet intoxication would rejoice their soul. That forgetfulness
of all cares which the divine liquor gave was connected with Lethe, the
water of which, according to mythology, souls drank that they might lose
all memory of their former life.

An immense number of reliefs, scattered throughout the whole extent of
the Roman Empire, bear witness to the popularity of the belief in this
form of immortality. The dead man who has been made a hero and whose
family comes to make sacrifices to him is stretched on a couch and lifts
the _rhyton_ which holds the heady drink of Bacchus, while before him,
on a little table, dishes are placed. These banquets took place, as we
have said, in the Elysian Fields, and the idea of the repast thus met
and combined with the idea of rest. The Blessed were imagined as lying
on a soft bed of flowered grass, taking part in a perpetual feast, to
the accompaniment of music and songs. Lucian in his “True
Histories”[507] describes, with ironical exaggeration, the joys of these
guests who are stretched comfortably among the flowers of a fragrant
meadow in the shade of leafy trees, and who gather, instead of fruit,
crystal goblets, which fill with wine as soon as they are placed on the

In spite of the mockery of sceptics these beliefs still had some
faithful partisans even at the end of paganism. A picture discovered in
the catacomb of Praetextatus shows us a priest of the Thraco-Phrygian
god Sabazios celebrating a mystic banquet with six of his fellows, and
another fresco represents the introduction of a veiled woman into the
garden of delights, where she has been judged worthy of being received
at the table of virtuous souls.[508]

Sometimes in the reliefs of the “funeral banquet” the dead are seen
wearing on their head the bushel (_modius_) of Serapis, with whom, after
a virtuous life, they have been identified. This indicates a confusion,
to which much other testimony bears witness, between the Bacchic
mysteries and the cult of the Alexandrian god.[509] Serapis is the great
master of the feast (συμποσιάρχης),[510] the host who must in the nether
world entertain those faithful to him. Thus the eschatological beliefs
of the Nile Valley mingled with those of Greece. In the country of
burning sun, where a straying traveller runs the risk of dying of thirst
on the arid stretches of sand, the hope expressed above all others for
him who accomplishes the great pilgrimage to the abode of the infernal
divinities, is that he may find wherewith to quench his consuming
thirst. “May Osiris give thee fresh water” is a wish which the votaries
of the Egyptian god often inscribed on their tombs. Thus the repast in
the other world was to be above all a refreshment (_refrigerium_). The
word passed into Christian language to denote both earthly “_agape_” or
sacred meal and the bliss of the other world, and even today the Roman
Church prays for the spiritual “refreshment” of the dead.[511]

We touch here on a question which is not yet completely elucidated, that
of the relation established between the funeral banquet and the
salvation of those who took part in it.

In Rome from the end of the Republic onwards this banquet, amid the
general decline of faith in immortality, was increasingly detached from
the tomb and became a guild or domestic ceremony. The tendency was to
reduce it to the repast of a family or confraternity, to the
perpetuation among men of the memory of him whose features were
preserved by a statue or picture. But the funeral cult acquired new
meaning with the spread of Oriental religions. It did not cease to be
useful to the dead who were its object, to whose subsistence in the
beyond and safe arrival in the Elysian Fields it was still thought to be
necessary. The offerings of the living sustained them on their dangerous
and hard journey thither; the food and drink restored them on the long
road they had to travel before they reached the place of everlasting

But the funeral repast was also salutary to those who offered it, and
not only because it ensured to them the good will of a spirit or demon
capable of protecting them. This banquet, at which wine flowed
profusely, was like the “orgies” of the Bacchic and Oriental mysteries,
and the resemblance is partly explained by an identity of kind.

The ritual of the gods whose death and resurrection were
commemorated—Bacchus, Osiris, Attis, Adonis—was probably a development
of the funeral ritual, and the banquet of initiation was thus related to
the banquet at the grave. On the one hand, it was believed that by a
mystic union with the god, men could share his blessed lot after the
transient trial of a death like his.[512] On the other hand, it was with
a dead man that a repast was taken, but with one who also, in some sort,
had become a god, who had preceded the diners into the other world and
awaited them there. “Live happy and pour out wine to our Manes,” says a
Latin epitaph of Syria, engraved beneath a scene of libation,
“recollecting that one day you will be with us.”[513]

According to an opinion which often found expression, the shades
themselves rejected whoever did not deserve to enter the abode of the
Blessed, but willingly received the pious soul which had always
fulfilled its duty towards them.[514] For admission to this club of
posthumous diners a members vote was necessary. Thus the funeral banquet
took on the character of a mystic banquet; that is, it came to be
conceived as a prelibation of the banquet at which the elect feasted in
the other world. The wish which the guests made to each other—“Drink and
live!”—became an allusion, no more to this earthly life, but to that
other existence in which they would participate in the felicity of him
who had gone before them and who would help them to rejoin him therein.
The following advice, repeated elsewhere in various forms, is found on
the tomb of a priest of Sabazios: “Drink, eat, jest and come to me ...
that is what you will carry away with you” (_hoc tecum feres_).[515]
This is not to be understood here as an Epicurean invitation to enjoy
life because all else is vain,[516] but a veiled expression of faith in
the efficacy for the salvation of the initiate attributed to the joyous
banquets which gathered men about a tomb.

The connection between the beliefs of the mysteries and the hopes
attached to the funeral cult became more intimate as immortality brought
the spirits of the dead nearer the celestial divinities. The idea that
some few privileged mortals win admission to the banquet of the gods is
very ancient. An inscription of Sendjerli in Syria, which goes back to
the eighth century before our era, orders sacrifices to be made in order
that the soul of King Panamu “may eat and drink with the god
Hadad,”[517] and Greek mythology told that certain heroes, such as
Heracles, who had been carried off to heaven, had there become the table
companions of the gods. Horace states that Augustus, borne to the
ethereal summits, will there rest between Hercules and Pollux, “drinking
nectar with his rosy lips.”[518] But we have seen elsewhere that
apotheosis, or deification, which was at first the privilege of an
aristocracy, became the common lot of all pious souls,[519] and that the
Elysian Fields were transferred from the depths of the infernal realm to
the upper spheres of the world. The repast of the Blessed was thus
transported to heaven.[520] This removal to the region of the stars
seems to have been first made in the astral religion of Syria, but it
was commonly accepted in western paganism. This is why in funeral
reliefs of the Roman period, in which the dead are shown banqueting,
such representations are placed in the upper part of the stele, above
the scenes of earthly life which fill the lower portion of the stone.
The emperor Julian is giving us a mocking picture of this repast of the
heroes, when in one of his satires he shows us the shades of the Caesars
at table immediately beneath the moon, in the highest zone of the
atmospheres—in accordance with the ideas of the Stoics.[521] Men readily
fashioned the heroes who tasted the joys of Olympus on the pattern of
the celestial divinities—resplendent with light, clothed in garments of
dazzling whiteness, their heads crowned with rays or surrounded by a
luminous nimbus, singing, as in a Greek symposium, melodious hymns.

The philosophers of course gave a symbolical interpretation of the
intoxication of the souls which took part in the feast, explaining it as
the ravishing of reason penetrated by divine intelligence. We will
return to their doctrines presently.

The Jews of the Alexandrian period shared the belief in the celestial
banquet with the Syrian paganism and transmitted it to the Christians.
The Paradise of the elect was often conceived as a shady garden where
tables were set out at which immortal guests passed their time in
endless joy. Thus, not to mention better-known texts, Aphraates, a
Syriac author of the first half of the fourth century, depicts the
felicity of the Blessed, clothed in light, who are admitted to the
divine table and are there fed with food which never fails. “There the
air is pleasant and serene, a brilliant light shines, trees grow of
which the fruit ripens perpetually, of which the leaves never fall, and
beneath these shades, which give out a sweet fragrance, the souls eat
this fruit and are never satiated.”[522]

The representation of this feast of Paradise recurs several times in the
paintings of the catacombs, but in them the wine is poured out by Peace
(_Eirene_) and Charity (_Agape_). An allegorical explanation gave a
spiritual meaning to the food and drink consumed by the elect. But the
old idea which was at the root of all the later development, the idea of
a material repast in which the dead participated, did not disappear from
popular faith when the conception that souls rose to the sky was
adopted, and in many countries it has not been obliterated even

                  *       *       *       *       *

Even in the pagan period, as we have said, enlightened minds accepted
the old descriptions of joyous feasts in fresh meadows only in a
figurative sense. A less coarse conception of immortality suffered them
to be looked upon only as symbols or metaphors. This conception of
celestial beatitude originated not in the cult of the dead but in the
cult of the gods. It was at first as material as preceding conceptions,
but it became purified as the idea of psychic survival was

We have seen in another lecture[524] that the “sight of the god” who was
adored was the highest degree of initiation. Theurgy flattered itself
that it could evoke divine apparitions at will. These visions have been
described to us by those who claimed to have been favoured with
them.[525] Their character and their effects have moreover been analysed
in detail in the treatise of Jamblichus, _On the Mysteries_. The
impression most immediately produced by these epiphanies was a boundless
admiration for their splendour. The incomparable beauty with which the
gods were radiant, the supernatural light in which they were wrapped,
had such an effect on men that they could hardly bear the effulgence and
nearly lost consciousness, but their souls were flooded with unspeakable
joy and purified for ever.

To this ineffable delight of a heart possessed of divine love there was
added the highest revelation for the intelligence.[526] Must not the
infallible “gnosis” be that which was the result of instruction received
directly from the mouth of a celestial power which had come down to

The devotees who had obtained the signal favour of this resplendent
vision, were thenceforth united to the deity who had manifested himself
to them, and were certain to share his immortal life. The fugitive
pleasure which they had felt on earth would become a bliss without end
in the kingdom of the dead. There they would see face to face the god
who protected them and learn from him all that had remained hidden from
them in this life.

These ideas, half religious, half magical, are very ancient, especially
in Egypt, but they were transformed by astrolatry. Here the celestial
powers had not to be summoned by prayer or invoked by incantations in
order that they might come and converse with the faithful, but were
perpetually visible and offered themselves, day and night, to the
veneration of humanity.

Henceforth the knowledge of divine things was no longer to be
communicated by the words which the initiate believed that he heard in
the silence of the sanctuary. It was revealed by a mysterious
inspiration to him who had deserved it by a fervent observation of the
heavens.[527] Thus by an illumination of the intelligence the astral
powers unveiled their will and the secrets of their movements to their
attentive servants. Here below this knowledge was always imperfect and
fragmentary, but it would be completed in another world, when reason
once more would rise aloft to the starry spaces whence it had descended.

This eschatological doctrine, which made astronomy the source of virtue
and of immortality, could only be developed by a clergy devoted to the
study of that science. Its first authors were doubtless the “Chaldeans,”
who transmitted it to Greece with their theories as to the divisions of
the sky and the heavenly bodies. The most ancient writing in which this
Oriental influence asserts itself clearly is the _Epinomis_, probably a
work of the astronomer Philip of Opus, a disciple of Plato. Let us
listen to his own words:[528]

  “When man perceives the harmony of the sky and the immovable order
  of its revolutions, he is first filled with joy and struck with
  admiration. Then the passion is born in him to learn about them all
  that it is possible for his mortal nature to know, for he is
  persuaded that he will thus lead the best and happiest existence and
  will go after his death to the places suited to virtue. Then being
  veritably and really initiate, pure reason taking part in the only
  wisdom, he will spend the rest of his time in contemplation of what
  is most beautiful among all visible things.”

This passage shows clearly the manner in which astrolatry modified
ancient ideas as to the sight of a god, the reverential wonder felt in
his presence by the faithful, the truth communicated to them and the
immortality which completed their initiation. The doctrine of an
intellectual reward for the Blessed was to attract scholars who in this
world gave themselves up to study. Spiritual activity, which emancipates
from material care and gives man nobility and virtue, seemed to them to
be the only occupation worthy of the elect. If the theory that the
Blessed would after death find this activity in the midst of the divine
stars, is probably of “Chaldean” origin, it was developed by the Greek
philosophers and in particular by Posidonius. It was also admitted into
the Roman mysteries, which, being penetrated by the spirit of Oriental
theologies, claimed to supply their adepts with a complete explanation
of the universe.

We have already alluded to this system in speaking of astral
mysticism.[529] Nature herself has destined man to gaze upon the skies.
Other animals are bent to the earth; he proudly lifts his head to the
stars. His eye, a tiny mirror in which immensity is reflected, the
soul’s door, open to the infinite, follows the evolutions of the
heavenly bodies from here below. By their splendour they make men marvel
and by their majesty compel them to veneration. Their complicated
movements, ruled by an immovable rhythm, are inconceivable unless they
are endowed with infallible reason.

The observation of the sky is not only an inexhaustible source of
aesthetic emotion. It also causes the soul, a detached parcel of the
fires of the ether, to enter into communion with the gods which shine in
the firmament. Possessed with the desire to know them, this soul
receives their revelations. They instruct it as to their nature; thanks
to them, it understands the phenomena produced in the cosmic organism.
Thus scientific curiosity is also conceived as a yearning for God. The
love of truth leads to holiness more surely than initiations and

Of the numerous passages in which these ideas are expressed I will
recall one which is well known but is not always well understood.[530]
Virgil in his _Georgics_ tells us what he looks to receive from the
sweet Muses whom he serves, being “struck with a great love for them.”
Not, as one would expect, poetic inspiration but physical science. The
Muses are to point out to him the paths of the stars in the sky, to
explain to him the reasons for eclipses, tides and earthquakes and the
variations in the length of the day. “Happy is he,” the poet concludes,
“who can know the causes of things, who treads underfoot all fear and
inexorable fate and vain rumours as to greedy Acheron.”[531] There is,
in spite of a reminiscence of Lucretius, nothing Epicurean in the idea
here expressed. The man who has won knowledge of Nature, which is
divine, escapes the common lot and does not fear death because a
glorious immortality is reserved for him.

For these joys which the acquisition of wisdom gives here below,
partially and intermittently, are in the other life bestowed with
absolute fulness and prolonged for ever. Reason, set free from corporeal
organs, attains to an infinite perceptive power and can satisfy the
insatiable desire of knowledge which is innate within reason itself. The
Blessed souls will thus be able at once to delight in the marvellous
spectacle of the world and to obtain perfect understanding thereof. They
will not weary of following the rhythmic evolutions of the chorus of
stars of which they form part, of noting the causes and the rules which
determine their movements. From the height of their celestial
observatory they will also perceive the phenomena of our globe and the
actions of men. Nothing which happens in nature or in human society will
be hidden from them. This speculative life (βιὸς θεωρητικός) is the only
one on earth or in heaven which is worthy of the sage.

To observe the course of the stars throughout eternity may appear to us
a desperately monotonous occupation, a rather unenviable beatitude. For
the stars, shorn of their divinity, are for us no more than gaseous or
solid bodies circulating in space, and we analyse with the spectroscope
their chemical composition. But the ancients felt otherwise: they
describe with singular eloquence the “cosmic emotion” which seized them
as they contemplated their southern skies—their soul was ravished, borne
on the wings of enthusiasm into the midst of the dazzling gods which
from the earth had been descried throbbing in the radiance of the ether.
These mystic transports were compared by them to Dionysiac intoxication;
an “abstemious drunkenness”[532] raised man to the stars and kindled in
him an impassioned ardour for divine knowledge. And as the exaltation
produced by the vapours of wine gave to the mystics of Bacchus a
foretaste of the joyous inebriation promised to them in the Elysian
banquet, so the ecstasy which uplifted him who contemplated the
celestial gods caused him to feel the happiness of another life while he
was yet here below.[533]

“I know,” says an epigram of Ptolemy himself,[534] “I know that I am
mortal, born for a day, but when I follow the serried crowd of the stars
in their circular course my feet touch the earth no longer: I go to Zeus
himself and sate myself with ambrosia, the food of the gods.”

In the same way the intoxication produced by music, the divine
possession which purified man by detaching him from material cares,
caused him to taste for an instant the felicity which would fill his
whole being when he should harken to the sweet harmony produced by the
rotation of the spheres, the celestial concert which the ears of mortals
are incapable of hearing, as their eyes cannot bear the brilliance of
the sun. Men’s instruments could cause the perception of only a weak
echo of these delightful chords, but they awoke in the soul a passionate
desire for heaven, where the unspeakable joy produced by the cosmic
symphony would be felt.

The beatitude of the elect, as conceived by astral immortality, was a
magnified projection to heaven of the joys which a religion of the
erudite held to be most worthy of virtuous spirits. When pagan theology
transported the abode of the most favoured souls outside the boundaries
of the universe to a world beyond the senses,[535] the happiness of
these souls could no longer consist solely in the sight and the hearing
of the motion of the spheres. This entirely material conception of
felicity in the Beyond had to be spiritualised. The ecstasy of Plotinus
does not stop short at the visible gods of the firmament; in it the soul
is transported beyond even the world of ideas and reaches, in an upward
rush of love, the divine unity in which it merges, ridding itself of all
consciousness and all form. This is the supreme goal which none can
attain after death save him who has conquered perfect purity. But the
aristocratic intellectualism of this philosophy reserved this union with
the first Principle for an _élite_ of sages. Paganism in its decline
believed in a hierarchy of souls ascending to the divinity, in a scale
of merit corresponding to various degrees of rewards: the majority lived
among the stars and, divine like them, helped them to govern the
earth—we already know their blessed lot; others who were more perfect
entered the intelligible cosmos[536] and their happiness, as it was
imagined, is but a more exalted counterpart of the joys attributed to
the former class. They were plunged in immovable contemplation of pure
Ideas; forgetting earthly things, they were wholly absorbed by this
intense activity of thought which was to them an inexpressible joy.
Moreover, being set free from the bonds of their flesh and of their
individuality, they could embrace in a single glance all the separate
intelligences which together formed the divine _Nous_, and thus had a
simultaneous intuition of everything, the direct comprehension of the
ultimate reason of things.

Beatific vision of the splendour of God, immediate perception of all
truth, mystic love for an ineffable Beauty—these were sublime
speculations which were to be unendingly reproduced and developed after
the fall of paganism. Unavailing efforts to represent a state
inconceivable to any human imagination, they expressed the ardent
yearning of religious souls towards an ideal of perfection and felicity.
But this high religious spirituality had gradually broken away from
somewhat coarse beliefs which had little by little been purified. The
rapture which transported Plotinus to those summits where reason,
bewildered as in a swoon, forsakes even thought in order to lose itself
within a principle which is above all definition, is directly connected
with the ecstasy which in the temples of Egypt came upon the devotee
who, like the philosopher, conversed “alone with the lone god,”[537]
whom the priest had evoked, and believed that in this vision he found a
guarantee of eternal happiness.


 Ablutions, 118;
   _cf._ “Lustration”

 Absorption in God, 36 s., 42, 122

 Acheron, 5, 8, 15, 27, 78, 80 s., 84 s., 149, 210

 Achilles, 74

 Adonis, 116, 203

 Aeacus, 10, 75

 Aeneid, 48, 82 s., 151;
   Aeneas, 74, 128;
   _cf._ “Virgil”

 Africa, 93, 120, 139, 192

 Age of reason, 137

 Agricola, 18

 Agrippina, 131

 Ahriman, 89;
   _cf._ “Spirit of Evil”

 Air full of souls, 26, 59, 160;
   purifies, 119, 143, 186;
     _cf._ Winds;
   Aerial bodies, 103, 168;
     _cf._ “Εἴδωλον”

 Alexander of Abonotichos, 9, 23, 180

 Alexander of Aphrodisias, 6

 Alexander the Great, 62

 Alexandria, 17, 20, 79, 96;
   cults, 36, 39;
   _cf._ “Isis,” “Serapis”

 Allegorical interpretations, 12, 21, 24, 42, 78 ss., 82, 86, 152, 180,
    195, 206

 Amorgos, 105

 Andromeda, 104

 Angels, 140

 _Anima_, 59, 167;
   _cf._ “Soul”

 _Ante diem_ (death), 133

 Antinous, 105, 164

 Antipodes, 80 s.

 Antonius Diogenes, 22

 Aphraates, 206

 Apocalypse of Peter, 173

 _Apocolocyntosis_, 179

 Apollo, 112, 123, 156;
   Musagetes, 101

 Apollonius of Tyana, 23, 164

 Apotheosis of heroes, 32, 205;
   of emperors, 102, 112 s., 156, 164;
   of Claudius, 179;
   of great men, 114 s.;
   in mysteries, 118 ss.;
   of children, 138 ss.

 Appius Claudius Pulcher, 22

 Apuleius, 108, n. 41

 Aristarchus, 79

 Aristophanes, 95

 Aristotle, 6, 17, 77, 98, 131;
   _cf._ “Peripatetic”

 Armenia, 52

 Arnold (Matthew), 116

 Asia Minor, 112;
   _cf._ “Cybele”

 Astral body, 169

 Astrolatry, 123, 207;
   _cf._ “Stars”

 Astrology, 17, 28, 92 s., 96, 100, 102, 117, 187

 Ataraxia, 8, 191

 Atargatis, 121

 Athribis, 93

 Atmosphere, 25, 81, 162, 168;
   _cf._ “Hades”

 Attis, 35 ss., 39, 116, 203

 Augustus, 156

 Avernus, 74

 Axiochos, 79

 Babylonia, 94, 156;
   _cf._ “Chaldeans”

 Bacchus, 52, 120, 138 s., 202, 211;
   Bacchantes, 62;
   _cf._ “Dionysos”

 Banquet; funeral, 53 ss., 200 ss.;
   ritual, 120 ss., 203 s.;
   eternal, 35, 151, 201 ss.;
   of the gods, 204

 _Biothanati_, 26, 129 ss., 141 ss.

 Bird (soul), 59, 157 s.

 Black hand, 135

 Black souls, 166

 Blood poured on tombs, 51;
   seat of life, 51, 118;
   in mysteries, 113, 201 ss.

 Boats (sun and moon), 92, 113, 154 s.;
   carry souls, 155;
     _cf._ “Charon”

 Body carried to heaven, 159, 164;
     _cf._ 165, 167;
   soul attached to body, 182 s.;
     _cf._ 44 ss.;
   _cf._ “Corpse”

 Book of the Dead, 148, 175, 193;
   of Enoch, 108, 198;
   of Arta Viraf, 175

 Boscoreale (goblets), 11

 Bread, 120

 Buddhism, 177

 Burial necessary, 64 ss., 197;
   refused, 65, 143, 145 s.;
   _cf._ “_Insepulti_”

 Byzantines, 132, 146

 Caesar (Julius), 8, 51, 104

 Calendar, 102

 California, 148

 Caligula, 67, 131

 Callimachus, 17

 Cameo of Paris, 156

 Cancer and Capricorn, 153

 Carducci, 115

 Carneades, 6

 Castor and Pollux, 104, 113, 205;
   _cf._ “Dioscuri”

 Castor of Rhodes, 22, 97

 Catacombs, 202, 206

 Catasterism, 104, 113;
   _cf._ “Stars”

 Cato of Utica, 26, 144

 Catullus, 17

 Celsus, 88

 Celts, see “Druids,” “Gaul”

 _Cena novemdialis_, 53

 Cenotaph, 65;
   _cf._ 48

 Cerberus, 10, 83, 87

 Chaldaic oracles, 38, 103

 Chaldeans, 28, 35, 37 s., 95, 100 ss., 107 s., 160, 208 s.;
   _cf._ “Babylonia”

 Chariot of the sun, 102, 113, 156 s.

 Charon, 85, 149, 174;
   Charon’s boat, 10, 25, 66, 75, 80, 155

 Children sacrificed, 135;
   games in other life, 138 s.;
   unbaptised, 198;
   _cf._ “Untimely death,” “Apotheosis”

 Christians, pagan customs of, 52, 55 s., 119, 145 s., 200;
   beliefs, 68 s., 90, 92, 108, 140 s., 143, 153, 187, 196 ss.;
   _biothanati_, 146

 Chrysippus, 13

 Church, see “Christians”

 Cicero, 19, 26 s., 31 ss., 44, 83, 104 s., 111, 113, 135, 152, 161, 165

 Circe, 74, 180

 _Circumpotatio_, 55

 Claudius, 152, 179

 Cleanthes, 13

 Cocytus, 78

 Colleges (funeral), 67, 143

 Comet, 104;
   _cf._ “Star”

 Commodianus, 146

 Como, 192

 Conflagration of the world, 12 ss.

 Consus, 71

 Contemplation of stars, 209;
   _cf._ “Sight of God”

 Copernicus, 28, 109

 Corinthians (Epistle to), 11, 106

 Cornutus, 14

 Corpse (life of), 45, 164;
   _cf._ “Body”

 Corstopitum, 156

 Crescent (symbol), 93, 97, 99

 Crown of life, 117

 Curse-tablets, see “_Defixiones_”

 Cybele, 35 ss., 39

 Cynics, 65

 Cyprus, 135

 Danaïdes, 85, 87, 171, 181

 Dante, 43, 109, 174, 187

 Dead; food of, 50;
   partake of banquets, 54 s.;
   communicate with living, 58 s.;
   feared, 47;
   malevolent, 63 s.;
   tutelary spirits, 60 s.;
   keep character of living, 73;
   received by shades or not, 68, 86, 193;
   physical character of, 165 ss.;
   _cf._ “Ghosts,” “Soul,” “Spirits”

 Death, sleep, 10, 45, 192;
   not to be feared, 7 ss., 19;
   second d., 110;
   untimely d., 128 ss.;
   represented as a monster, 117

 _Defixiones_, 63, 68, 134

 Deification, 34, 111 s.;
   _cf._ “Apotheosis”

 Demetrius of Tarsus, 186

 Democritus, 5, 7

 Demons, 26, 29, 60, 62, 80, 86 s., 88 s., 133, 136, 145, 154, 162, 172,

 Destiny, see “Fatalism”

 _Devotio_, 63

 _Di animales_, 149

 Dido, 59

 Didyma, 99

 Dio Cassius, 62

 Dionysos (mysteries), 35, 120, 123, 201 s., 211;
   _cf._ “Bacchus”

 Dioscuri, 156;
   _cf._ “Castor”

 Dolphins, 180

 Domitian, 103

 Druids, 23, 94, 178

 Druses, 178

 Dualism, 24, 89, 117, 188

 Eagle carries souls, 102, 113, 157 ss.

 Earth (Mother), 36, 86;
   _cf._ “Cybele,” “Moon”

 Eclecticism, 21, 27

 Ecstasy, 42, 121, 126, 196

 Egypt, 48 s., 54, 86, 112, 134, 157, 173, 177 s.;
   Egyptian religion, 45, 76, 79, 94, 113, 122 s., 148, 153, 167, 175,
      202, 207, 213;
     in Rome, 36 ss.

 Elements purify the soul, 25, 81, 119, 185 ss., 196, 201

 Eleusis, 34, 138;
   _cf._ “Mysteries”

 Elijah, 156

 Elysian fields, 34, 73, 76, 79, 84, 120, 138 s., 151, 165, 171 ss.,
    184, 193 s.;
   in the moon, 25, 81 s., 97;
   about the moon, 98;
   among the stars, 104, 187;
   represented, 74;
   _cf._ “Hades”

 Emperors, divinity of, 112 s.;
   _cf._ “Apotheosis”
   not subject to fate, 117;
     _cf._ “Kings”

 Ennius, 21, 79, 165

 Enoch, 108, 198

 Epictetus, 12, 14

 Epicurus, 7 ss., 20;
   Epicureans, 65, 77, 110, 195, 204, 210

 Epinomis, 208

 Epiphanies of gods, 121, 123

 Epoptism, 121;
   _cf._ “Sight of god”

 Erinyes, 26, 75, 78, 173 ss., 181 s.;
   _cf._ “Furies”

 Eros, 138

 Esdras, 198

 Eternal house (tomb), 3, 48;
   eternal rest, 196, 199;
   eternal pains, 76, 88, 172;
   eternal banquet, see “Banquet”

 Etruscans, 5, 53 s., 63, 71, 74 s., 117, 149 s., 155, 174, 178

 Eusebius of Alexandria, 92

 Evil eye, 154

 Evil, Spirit of, see “Spirit”

 Executed criminals, 145;
   _cf._ “_Biothanati_”

 Fatalism, 117, 133 s., 136, 179, 183

 Fates, 84, 134, 138

 _Fatum_, 133

 Faustina, 156

 Fire, stoic, 12 ss.;
   heavenly, 28, 185;
     _cf._ “Stars;”
   of hell, 175 s.;
   purifies, 119, 176, 185 ss.;
     _cf._ “Pyriphlegeton”

 Fish, sacred, 121

 Food of the dead, 50 s., 56

 Fortunate islands, see “Islands”

 Freer collection, 154

 Funeral cult, 47 ss.;
   funeral banquet, see “Banquet,” “Sculpture”

 Galileo, 109

 Ganymede, 159

 Garden of tombs, 57, 200

 Gates, of Hades, 70, 80;
   of heaven, 153, 162 s.

 Gaul, 23;
   _cf._ “Druids”

 Gello, 134

 _Genii_, 60, 142

 Germanicus, 156

 Ghosts, 4, 7, 62 s., 67 s., 83, 91, 130 s., 134, 165, 197

 Gladiators, 51, 136

 Gnosis (sacred lore), 23, 111, 114, 121 ss., 125, 207 ss.

 Goat Star, 105

 Gobryes, 79

 God immanent, 30;
   _cf._ “World;”
   transcendent, 41;
   identification with g., 34, 107 s.;
     _cf._ “Soul;”
   sight of God, 121, 207;
   visible gods (stars), 31, 104, 108;
     _cf._ “Epiphanies;”
   sage, god on earth, 14, 111 s.;
   evil god, 133;
   god eaten in mysteries, 120

 Greek beliefs, 5, 61, 69, 72 ss., 79, 87, 95, 102, 105, 113, 115, 117,
    146 s., 155, 157, 174, 177;
   mysteries, 34 s.;
     _cf._ “Dionysos,” “Eleusis;”
   funeral cult, 53 s., 56

 Guide of souls, see “Psychopomp”

 Hadad, 205

 Hades, Greek, 4 s., 72, 134, 148, 170;
   stoic, 14;
   Pythagorean, 26, 78, 81, 181;
   Neo-Platonic, 41, 88;
   mysteries, 37;
   descent into H., 148 ss., 171;
   on earth, 78, 181 s.;
   in the air, 168;
     _cf._ “Atmosphere;”
   between sun and moon, 103;
   _cf._ “Gate,” “_Inferi_,” “Tartarus,” “Nether world”

 Hadrian, 104, 157

 Hanged, 143;
   rope amulet, 136

 Harmony of spheres, 25, 101, 115, 212

 Heavens, three, 106;
   eight, 106 s.;
   _cf._ “Immortality,” “Planets”

 Hecate, 92, 134

 Heliodorus of Emesa, 68, 86

 Helios, 123, 130;
   _cf._ “Sun”

 Hell dragon, 154;
   _cf._ “Hades”

 Hemispheres opposed, 80 s.

 Hercules, 104, 113, 123, 144, 167, 205;
   at crossroads, 150, 194

 Hermes, 180;
   soul-guide, 25, 85, 105, 138, 163;
   (Thot), 122

 Hermes Trismegistus, 38, 114, 121, 180, 186

 Herodotus, 177

 Heroes, 113 ss., 140, 142, 149, 167, 204 s.

 Hesiod, 150

 _Hic requiescit_, 191, 197

 Hierapolis, 159

 Hipparchus, 96

 Honey, 52, 119 s.

 Horace, 12, 130, 142, 205

 Horse carries souls, 155 s.

 Hostanes, 136

 Hypsistos (Most High), 41, 104, 108, 130

 Icaromenippus, 106

 _Imago_, 166

 Immortality, earthly, 19 s.;
   celestial, 25 ss., 29, 32, 37, 91 ss., 138;
   lunar, 96 ss.;
     _cf._ “Moon;”
   solar, 100 ss.;
     _cf._ “Sun;”
   stellar, 103 ss.;
     _cf._ “Stars;”
   conception of i., 110;
   privilege of divinity, 111;
   i. of the few, see “Heroes”

 Incineration, 46

 India, 54, 93, 95, 177

 Infants (death of), 128 ss.

 _Inferi_, 4, 25, 71, 78, 81, 86, 166, 195;
   _cf._ “Hades,” “Nether world”

 _Innupti_, 137

 _Insepulti_, 25, 64 ss., 145;
   rejected by shades, 68, 86, 193

 Intoxication, 126, 205, 211 s.;
   _cf._ “Wine”

 _Invicti_ (stars), 117

 Ion of Chios, 95

 Irish wake, 55

 Isis, 36 s., 121, 123, 154

 Islands of the Blessed, 25, 80 s., 96, 155;
   of impious, 175

 Ixion, 84 s., 171

 Jacob’s ladder, 154

 Jamblichus, 40, 103, 169, 184, 207

 Jews, 35, 89, 108, 135, 142, 197 ss., 206;
   _cf._ “Philo”

 John Climacus, 154

 Josephus, 142

 Journey to Hades, 148 ss.;
   to heaven, 152 ss.

 Judaism, see “Jews”

 Judgment of the dead, 76, 88, 151, 172 s.

 Julian the Apostate, 9, 42, 98, 157, 161, 164, 205

 Julius Caesar, see “Caesar”

 Jupiter, 106;
   _summus exsuperantissimus_, 108;
   star, 107, 187

 Katoptromanteia, 166, n. 62

 Kings immortal, 112;
   anointing of k., 119;
   _cf._ “Emperors”

 Kiss (last), 59

 Lactantius, 153

 Ladder, 153 ss.

 _Larvae_, 63

 _Lemures_, 4, 60, 72, 131;
   _Lemuria_, 63, 71

 Lesbos, 134

 Lethe, 76, 184, 201

 Libations on tombs, 50 ss., 204

 _Libri Acheruntici_, 149

 Lion, 187

 Liternum, 47

 Livia, wife of Drusus, 135

 Lucan, 103

 Lucian of Samosata, 8, 23, 39, 49, 54, 62, 67, 75, 97, 106, 175, 201

 Lucretius, 7, 45 s., 138, 210

 _Lunula_, 97

 Lustrations, 118

 Lysimachus, 65

 Maccabees, 142

 Macrobius, 132 s.

 Magi, 79, 95

 Magic, 22, 26, 52, 67, 118, 119, 124, 130 s., 133 ss., 143, 154, 158,
    163, 166;
   magic papyri, 86, 134 ss.;
   _cf._ “Necromancy”

 _Manalis lapis_, 71

 Manes, 4, 18, 32, 47, 54, 60 ss., 72, 86, 93, passim

 Manicheans, 93, 103, 154, 178

 Manilius, 31, 112, 133

 Marcellus, 156

 Marcus Aurelius, 14, 39

 Mars, 123;
   star, 107, 131, 141, 187

 Marseilles, 163

 Martyrs, 143, 145

 Maximus of Tyre, 61

 Mazdeans, 89, 95, 175, 188;
   _cf._ “Persia”

 Meals, see “Banquets”

 _Melikraton_, 52

 _Memoriae aeternae_, 19

 Memory, Lake of, 148

 Menander, 141

 Mercury (star), 107, 187;
   _cf._ “Hermes”

 Metempsychosis, 26, 41 s., 74, 78, 82 s., 172, 177 ss.;
   in beasts, 179 s., 183;
   in plants, 179;
   punishment, 180

 Miletus, 105

 Milk, 52

 Milky Way, 94, 104, 152 s.

 Minos, 75, 85

 Mirrors in magic, 166

 Mithras, 37 s., 89, 103, 106, 154, 156, 164, 178;
   _cf._ 163

 Mojave Indians, 148

 Money (in mouth of dead), 84

 Monsters, see “Death”, “Souls”

 Monteleone (chariot), 155, n. 23

 Moon, 28, 29, 86;
   new moon, 91;
   m. and resurrection, 91 s.;
   abode of souls, 25 s., 93 s., 96 s., 186, 195;
   dissolves souls, 168;
   limit of heaven, 25, 98 s.;
   Olympic earth, 97;
     _cf._ 187;
   rules physical life, 102, 107;
     _cf._ “Boat”

 Mother of gods, 35 ss.

 Mourning, 47, 51

 Muses, 101, 115, 210

 Music, 24, 132;
   _cf._ “Harmony of spheres”

 Mussulman, 142

 Mysteries, Greek, 34 s., 138;
   _cf._ “Dionysos,” “Eleusis;”
   oriental, 33 ss., 96, 116 ss., 138, 160;
   m. and philosophy, 38, 124 ss.;
   transformed, 38 s., 82;
   children initiated, 138

 Mysticism, astral, 30, 126, 208 ss.;
   Neo-Platonic, 42, 125

 Naiads, 139

 Necromancy, 53, 62, 66, 68, 190

 Nectabis, 136

 _Nekyia_, 82

 Nemesis, 130

 Neo-Platonists, 40, 87 s., 106, 110, 124, 144, 163, 169, 196

 Neo-Pythagoreans, see “Pythagoreans”

 Nereids, 139

 Nero, 103, 131

 Nether world, 70 ss.;
   imitation of city, 75, 172 s.;
   lower hemisphere, 79;
   in the air, 81;
     _cf._ “Atmosphere;”
   scepticism about n.w., 18, 83 s.;
   faith in n.w. preserved, 36 s.;
   _cf._ “Hades,” “_Inferi_”

 New York (Museum), 155, n. 23

 Nigidius Figulus, 22, 32, 97

 _Non nutriti_, 137

 Nosaïris, 178

 _Nous_, 103, 168, 213

 Numa, 21

 Number (Pythagorean), 132

 Numenius, 107

 Nymphs, 140

 Octavius, 51

 Oenoanda, 9

 Oil, 119

 Olympus, 80, 88, 104 s., 157, 163, 195;
   Olympic earth, 97;
     _cf._ 187

 Omophagy, 120

 Orcus, 83;
   _cf._ “Hades”

 Oriental mysteries, 33 ss.;
   _cf._ “Mysteries;”
   Or. religions, 117, 203, 209

 Origen, 108 s., 140, 154, 188

 Orphism, 5, 21, 34 s., 73 s., 77, 138, 148 s., 171 s., 174, 177 ss.,
    187 s., 193, 201

 Oscilla, 143

 Osiris, 35, 113, 116, 122 s., 202 s.;
   _cf._ “Serapis”

 _Os resectum_, 65;
   _ossa quiescant_, 191

 Ovid, 22, 73, 104

 Pains of hell, 170 ss.;
   _cf._ “Fire,” “Eternal”

 Paintings, 93;
   _cf._ catacombs, 202, 206

 Palingenesis, 13, 182 ss.

 Panaetius, 13, 27 s.

 Panamu (king), 205

 Pannonia, 186

 Papyri, 157;
   _cf._ “Magic”

 Paradise, 200, 205

 Parcae, 84

 _Parentalia_, 63, 71

 Pascal, 2, 30

 Pausanias, 95

 Pegasus, 156

 Pericles, 1

 Periktione, 78

 Peripatetic school, 6, 77;
   _cf._ “Aristotle”

 Persia, 54, 89, 95 s., 107, 156, 175, 177;
   _cf._ “Mazdeans,” “Mithras”

 Pessimism, 24, 39, 41

 Petelia tablet, 148

 Peter, apocalypse of, 173

 Petosiris, 132

 Petronius, 49, 135

 Phantoms, see “Ghosts”

 Pharaohs, 113, 123;
   _cf._ “Egypt”

 Philadelphia, 151

 Philip of Opus, 208

 Philo the Jew, 31, 140, 154

 Philosophy, 5 ss.;
   and mysteries, 38, 121;
   philosophers immortal, 114, 124;
   priests of the world, 125;
   wonder-workers, 114;
   _cf._ “Epicureans,” “Neo-Platonists,” “Pythagoreans,” “Stoics”

 Phoebus, 157;
   _cf._ “Sun”

 Phosphorus, 159

 Phrygian cult, 35 s.;
   _cf._ “Sabazios”

 Pindar, 73

 Pirithous, 171

 Planets, 28, 168, 179, 209;
   planetary spheres, 103, 106 ss., 154, 187

 Plato, 6, 7, 18, 23, 26, 28, 32, 39, 42, 66, 77, 87 ss., 95, 99, 107,
    129, 136, 158, 169, 178, 182 ss., 188;
   Plato’s cavern, 23, 99;
   _Phaedo_, 49, 79, 144, 152, 163;
   _cf._ “Axiochos,” “Neo-Platonists”

 Plautus, 5

 Pliny the Elder, 8, 83, 92, 96;
   the Younger, 67

 Plotinus, 23, 40 ss., 61, 125, 144, 212 s.

 Plutarch, 39, 83, 87, 129, 173, 186

 Pluto, 75, 84 s.;
   _cf._ “Hades”

 Pneuma, see “Πνεῦμα”

 Polybius, 5

 Pontiffs, 65;
   _cf._ 44

 Porch, see “Stoics”

 Porphyry, 40, 42, 87, 120, 125, 144, 184

 Posidonius of Apamea, 27 ss., 32, 39, 43, 82, 98, 124, 136, 161, 184

 _Praesens numen_, 112

 Praetextatus (catacombs), 202

 Prayer (silent), 24, 122, 126

 Priests immortal, 114;
   anointed, 119;
   _cf._ “Philosophers”

 Proclus, 87 s., 169

 Prodicus, 150

 Propertius, 47

 Proserpina, 25, 75, 95, 97

 Psyche, 25, 59

 Psychopomp, 94, 163;
   _cf._ “Hermes,” “Sun”

 Ptolemies, 123;
   _cf._ “Alexandria”

 Ptolemy’s system, 28, 43, 109;
   astrology, 132;
   epigram, 211

 Punic cults, 93;
   _cf._ 59;
   _cf._ “Africa”

 Purgatory, 26, 82, 161 s., 185 ss.

 Purification of the soul, 118;
   _cf._ “Purgatory”, “Lustrations”

 Pyre, 49, 159

 Pyriphlegethon, 15, 76, 78, 81, 175, 185

 Pythagoras, 20 ss., 97

 Pythagoreans, 20 ss., 27, 32, 35, 38 ss., 59, 66, 68, 74, 77 s., 81, 95
    s., 99 s., 104, 107, 121, 124, 129, 132 ss., 136 s., 144, 149 ss.,
    160, 167, 171, 177 ss., 181, 188, 194

 _Quies aeterna_, 191

 _Quietae sedes_, 195

 Ra, 94, 113, 154

 Rays of the sun, 160;
   _cf._ “Sun”

 Reason rises to the sun, 103, 168;
   _cf._ “Nous”

 _Refrigerium_, 202

 Reincarnation, 26, 29;
   _cf._ “Metempsychosis”

 Repast, see “Banquet”

 Repose of the dead, 190 ss.;
   in the Elysian Fields, 193 s.;
   in heaven, 195 ss.

 Rest, see “Repose,” “_Quies_”

 Resurrection of the flesh, 197

 Retaliation, 173

 Retribution, 72, 172 ss., 177 ss.;
   _cf._ “Judgment”

 Revelation, 207;
   _cf._ “Gnosis”

 Rhadamanthus, 75

 Rhine, 154

 Right and left, 152

 Rites not needed, 125 ss.

 Roads (two), 150 ss.;
   _cf._ “Milky Way”

 Rosalia, 53;
   _cf._ 57

 Royal souls, 114;
   _cf._ “Kings”

 Sabazios, 35, 202, 204

 Sacrifices for the dead, 50 ss.

 Sage, god on earth, 14, 111 ss.

 Sallust, 8

 Salvation in mysteries, 34 ss.

 Samos, 1

 _Sanctus_, 111

 San Francisco (museum), 183

 Sarcophagi, 74, 85, 115, 149, 155;
   _cf._ “Sculpture”

 Saturn, 107, 131, 141, 187

 Satyrs, 138

 Scarbantia, 186

 Scepticism, 17 ss., 28, 31

 Science deifies, 208 ss.;
   _cf._ “Gnosis”

 Scipio’s tomb, 47;
   Scipio’s dream, 32, 104

 Sculpture (funeral), 85, 86, 117, 149, 151, 155 ss., 159, 165, 185 s.,
    194, 201, 205;
   _cf._ “Paintings,” “Sarcophagi”

 Sea (death at), 129

 Seals, 163

 _Securi_ (dead), 55, 191;
   _secura quies_, 194

 Selene, 96 s.;
   _cf._ “Moon”

 Semites, 48, 79, 93 s., 103, 123;
   _cf._ “Syrians”

 Sendjerli, 204

 Seneca, 8, 14, 22, 31, 83, 152, 179, 196

 Serapis, 36 s., 39, 122 s., 202;
   _cf._ “Osiris”

 Servius, 60, passim

 Sextus Empiricus, 161

 Shade, 165 ss.;
   and soul, 79;
   shades receive or reject dead, 68, 86, n. 39, 134, 193, 204;
   _cf._ “Εἴδωλον,” “Umbra”

 _Shahîd_, 142

 _Sheol_, 4

 Ship, see “Boat”

 _Sideribus recepti_, 113

 Sight of god, 121, 207;
   _cf._ “Gnosis”

 _Silicernium_, 53

 _Simulacrum_, 166 s.;
   _cf._ “Εἴδωλον”

 Sisiphus, 78, 84, 170, 181

 _Sit tibi terra levis_, 46

 Sleep of death, 10, 45, 49, 192

 Smyrna, 140

 Socrates, 131

 Solar attraction, 160;
   _cf._ “Rays,” “Sun”

 Soldiers slain in battle, 142

 _Somno aeterno_, 192

 Soul a breath, 4, 7, 59, 164;
   burning breath, 13 s., 24, 29, 87, 98, 161;
   number, 24;
   circular, 98;
   a bird, 59, 93, 157 s.;
   not immaterial, 118, 162;
   physical nature, 164 ss.;
   principle of movement, 110;
   soul and shade, 79;
     _cf._ “Εἴδωλον;”
   pollution, 29, 118, 162, 185;
   division, 168;
   related to God, 12, 111;
   union with God, 42, 122 s.;
   becomes star, 92 s.;
   journey, 148 ss.;
   triple ascension, 106;
   passage through planets, 107;
   garments of s., 106 ss.;
   hierarchy of souls, 108 s., 213;
   how represented, 165, 167;
   _cf._ “Ghost,” “Shade,” “Spirit,” “Stars”

 Spirit of Evil, 89, 175;
   _cf._ “Ahriman”

 Spirits of the dead, 46 s., 56 s.;
   of murdered, 130;
   _cf._ “Soul”

 Stars and souls, 92 s., 94, 103 ss.;
   shooting s., 92;
   _invicti_, 117;
   _cf._ “Comet”

 Statius, 103

 Stele, see “Sculpture”

 Stoics, 12 ss., 21, 30 s., 33, 39, 46, 65, 77, 82, 87, 96, 98 s., 103,
    113, 144, 179, 182, 195

 Styx, 25, 75 s., 78, 80 s., 83 s., 134, 155, 193

 Sublunary world, see “World”

 Suetonius, 86, 130

 Suicide, 143 ss.

 Sun-god, 24, 86, 130;
   _cf._ “Helios,” “Phoebus,” “Ra;”
   and emperors, 157;
   and eagle, 158;
   psychopomp, 164;
   star, 28, 100 s.;
   new sun, 91;
   heart of the world, 100;
   reason of the world, 101, 107;
   sun and souls, 94, 156 ss.;
     _cf._ “Boat,” “Chariot”

 _Suo die_, 133

 Syncretism, see “Eclecticism”

 Syria, 28, 40, 52, 73, 86, 92, 112, 131, 156 ss., 176, n. 11, 204 ss.;
   Syrian cults, 37, 93, 96, 120 s.

 _Taciti_ (Manes), 165

 Tacitus, 18

 Tages, 149

 Tantalus, 9, 78, 84 s., 170, 181

 Tartarus, 26, 27, 34, 75 s., 77, 79 s., 84 s., 171 ss., 175 s., 188;
   _cf._ “Hades”

 Taurobolium, 119

 Tertullian, 55

 Theodore the Atheist, 65

 Theophanes, 146

 Theseus, 171

 Tiberius, 86

 Tibullus, 191

 Timaeus of Locri, 78

 Tiresias, 74

 Titans, 178

 Titus, 142

 Tityus, 9, 170, 181

 Tivoli, 183

 Tomb, a dwelling, 3, 46 ss., 56;
   furniture, 49 s., 72;
   garden, 57, 200;
   placed on roads, 58;
   antechamber of nether world, 70;
   tombstone, see “Sculpture,” “Sarcophagi”

 Torre San Severo (sarcophagus), 74

 Trajan, 157

 Transmigration, see “Metempsychosis”

 Tritons, 186

 Ulysses, 74, 180

 _Umbra_, 79, 166 s.

 Unburied, 64;
   _cf._ “_Insepulti_”

 Unctions, 119, 163

 Untimely death, 128 ss., 136 ss.

 Varro, 31

 Vatinius, 22

 Vegetarianism, 179

 Vehicle of souls, 61, 169

 Venus—star, 94, 107;
   goddess, 104, 123, 187

 Violation of tombs, 67 s.

 Virgil, 31, 59, 66, 73, 82 s., 128 s., 139, 142, 152, 172, 174, 182,
    184, 186, 210

 Warriors, see “Soldiers”

 Washing, see “Ablutions”

 Water, heavenly, 185;
   libation of w., 51;
     _cf._ 202;
   purification by w., see “Elements,” “Lustration”

 Winds, 25, 60, 155, 161, 166, 185

 Wine, 35, 52, 120, 203 ss., 211

 Wizards, see “Magic”

 World—system of, 28, 99 s., 121;
   divine, 12, 29 s., 126;
   sublunary world, 99, 107, 117, 168, 195;
     _cf._ “Moon”

 Y symbol, 26, 150 s., 194

 Yezidis, 178

 Zagreus, 138

 Zeno, 195

 Zeus, 112, 123;
   _cf._ “Jupiter”

                              GREEK WORDS

 Ἄγαμοι, 137

 Ἁγιάζω, 123

 Ἁγνεία, 24

 Ἄγνωστος θεός, 41

 Ἀειδής, (= Hades), 79

 Αἰτία ἐλομένω, 183

 Ἀναγωγεύς, 101, 160

 Ἀναιρέτης, 131

 Ἀναίτιος ὁ θεός, 183

 Ἄνεμος, 59

 Ἀνθοφόρος, 138

 Ἀντίθεος, 89

 Ἀνώνυμοι, 137

 Ἀπαθανατίζω, 116, 118

 Ἀπάθεια, 191

 Ἀποθέωσις, 118;
   _cf._ “Apotheosis”

 Ἄποροι τῆς ταφῆς, 68

 Ἀρετή, 151

 Ἄρχοντες, 162

 Ἀσωτεία, 151

 Ἀταραξία, 8

 Ἄταφοι, 64;
   _cf._ “_Insepulti_”

 Ἄτροφοι, 132, 137

 Ἄωροι, 129, 136 s.

 Βιαιοθάνατοι, 129, 141 ss.

 Βιὸς θεωρητικός, 211

 Γνῶσις (τοῦ θεοῦ), 23, 121 ss., 125, 207 ss.

 Δοξάζειν, 123

 Εἴδωλον, 7, 24, 79, 166 s.

 Ἐκπύρωσις, 13 s.

 Ἐπιφανὴς θεός, 112

 Ἑπτάκτις θεός, 160

 Εὐπλοῖ, 155

 Εὐψύχει, 149

 Ἡγεμονικόν, 30, 103

 Ἡγεμὼν θεός, 163 s.

 Θάρρει, 149

 Κατάβασις εἰς Ἅιδου, 171;
   _cf._ “Hades”

 Κύκλος γενέσεως, 179

 Μετενσωμάτωσις, 182

 Νοῦς, 168;
   _cf._ 103, 213

 Νυμφόληπτοι, 139

 Ξύσματα, 160

 Ὁδὸς μακάρων, 152

 Ὄχημα, 41, 161, 169

 Παλιγγενεσία, 182

 Παράδεισος, 200

 Πνεῦμα, 111, 168

 Πολυάνδριον, 145

 Σκιά, 166 s.

 Συγγένεια, 96, 111

 Συμποσιάρχης, 202

 Σῶμα, 167

 Σωτήρ, 112

 Τελώνια, 163

 Τρίοδος, 151

 Υ, 26, 150 s., 194

 Ὕψιστος, 41;
   _cf._ “Hypsistos”

 Ὑψοῦσθαι, 123

 Φωτίζω, 123

 Ψυχή, 25, 59, 167;
   _cf._ “Psyche”



Footnote 1:

  Plut., _Pericl._, 8.

Footnote 2:

  _Pensées_, III, 194 (t. II, p. 103, ed. Brunschvigg).

Footnote 3:

  See Lecture I, “Life in the Tomb.”

Footnote 4:

  See Lecture II, “The Nether World.”

Footnote 5:

  See Lecture II, p. 73.

Footnote 6:

  Plautus, _Capt._, V, 4, 1.

Footnote 7:

  Polyb., VI, 56, 12.

Footnote 8:

  Diels, _Fragm. Vorsokratiker_^3, II, p. 121, fr. 297.

Footnote 9:

  Homer, _Il._, Ψ, 100; Plato, _Phaed._, 77 D; _cf._ Rohde, _Psyche_,
  II^4, p. 264, n. 2.

Footnote 10:

  III, 38:

             “Et metus ille foras praeceps Acheruntis agendus
             Funditus humanam qui vitam turbat ab imo.”

Footnote 11:

  Sall., _Cat._, 51, 20.

Footnote 12:

  Pliny, _H. N._, VII, 55, § 190.

Footnote 13:

  Seneca, _Troades_, 382 ss.

Footnote 14:

  Lucian, _Alex._, c. 61; c. 47.

Footnote 15:

  Lucian, _ibid._, c. 38; c. 44; c. 47.

Footnote 16:

  Julian, _Epist._, 89 (p. 747, 23, ed. Bidez-Cumont).

Footnote 17:

  Cousin, _Bull. corr. hell._, XVI, 1897; _cf._ Usener, _Rhein. Mus._,
  N. F., XLVII, p. 428.

Footnote 18:

  CIL, XI, 856 = Bücheler, _Carm. epigraphica_, 191.

Footnote 19:

  Dessau, _Inscript. selectae_, 8162 ss.; _cf._ _Recueil des
  inscriptions du Pont_, 110: “Non fui, fui, non sum, non curo.”

Footnote 20:

  _Recueil_, 143.

Footnote 21:

  _Cf._ Lecture VIII, p. 192.

Footnote 22:

  Kaibel, _Epigr. Graeca_, 646.

Footnote 23:

  Bücheler, _Carm. epigr._, 1495 = CIL, VI, 26003:

             “Nil sumus et fuimus. Mortales respice, lector,
             In nihil ab nihilo quam cito recidimus.”

Footnote 24:

  Bücheler, _Carm. epigr._, 1247 = CIL, VI, 7193:

             “Quod superest homini requiescunt dulciter ossa,
             Nec sum sollicitus ne subito esuriam.
             Et podagram careo, nec sum pensionibus arra
             Et gratis aeterno perfruor hospitio.”

Footnote 25:

  Bücheler, _op. cit._, 1500.

Footnote 26:

  I _Cor._ 15. 32.

Footnote 27:

  Bücheler, _op. cit._, 187: “Quod comedi et ebibi tantum meum est.”
  _Cf._ _ibid._, 244: “Quod edi, bibi, mecum habeo, quod reliqui,

Footnote 28:

  Bücheler, _op. cit._, 1499; Dessau, _Inscr. sel._, 8157:

             “Balnea, vina, venus corrumpunt corpora nostra,
             Sed vitam faciunt balnea, vina, venus.”

Footnote 29:

  Bücheler, _op. cit._, 243: “Dum vixi, bibi libenter; bibite vos qui

Footnote 30:

  Héron de Villefosse, _Le trésor de Boscoreale_, in _Monuments Piot_,
  V, Paris, 1899.

Footnote 31:

  _Epist._, I, 4, 16.

Footnote 32:

  Epict., _Diss._, I, 14, 6; II, 8, 11 (ἀπόσπασμα τοῦ θεοῦ).

Footnote 33:

  _Cf._, _e.g._, Sen., _Consol. Marc._, end.

Footnote 34:

  See Lecture IV, p. 115 s.

Footnote 35:

  Cic., _Tusc._, I, 79.

Footnote 36:

  Stob., _Ecl._, I, 384, Wachsmuth.

Footnote 37:

  Sextus Empiricus, _Adv. Math._, IX, 71: Οὐδὲ τὰς ψυχὰς ἔνεστιν
  ὑπονοῆσαι κάτω φερομένας. _Cf._ Cic., _Tusc._, I, 16, 37; 17, 40.

Footnote 38:

  _Cf._ Lecture II, p. 77.

Footnote 39:

  Epictetus, III, 13, 15; _cf._ II, 6, 18.

Footnote 40:

  Bonhöfer, _Epictet. und die Stoa_, 1890, p. 65.

Footnote 41:

  _Cf._ Lecture III, p. 98.

Footnote 42:

  _Arch. Epigr. Mitt. aus Oesterreich_, VI, 1882, p. 60; _cf._
  Epictetus, _l. c._

Footnote 43:

  CIL, XIII, 8371, at Cologne.

Footnote 44:

  CIL, III, 6384: “Corpus habent cineres, animam sacer abstulit aer.”

Footnote 45:

  Dessau, _Inscr. sel._, 8168; Bücheler, _Carm. epigr._, 1532; _cf._

           “Mortua heic ego sum et sum cinis, is cinis terrast,
           Sein est terra dea, ego sum dea, mortua non sum.”

Footnote 46:

  Tennyson, _Crossing the Bar_.

Footnote 47:

  Bücheler, _Carm. epigr._, 1498:

                  “Evasi effugi; Spes et Fortuna valete;
                  Nil mihi vobiscum. Ludificate alios.”

  _Cf._ Bücheler, 409, 9; 434; _Anthol. Pal._, IX, 49; 172; Vettius
  Valens, V, 9 (p. 219, 26, Kroll).

Footnote 48:

  See my _Oriental religions_, p. 180; 276, n. 51 s.

Footnote 49:

  See Lecture III, pp. 96, 107; VII, p. 176.

Footnote 50:

  Callim., _Epigr._, 15, 3:

            Ὠ Χαρίδα τί τὰ νέρθε;—Πολὺ σκότος—Αἱ δ’ ἄνοδοι τί;
            Ψεῦδος—Ὁ δὲ Πλούτων;—Μῦθος—Ἀπωλόμεθα

Footnote 51:

  Cat., V, 4:

                   “Soles occidere et redire possunt;
                   Nobis quum semel occidit brevis lux,
                   Nox est perpetua una dormienda.”

Footnote 52:

  _Cf._ Lecture II, p. 83, and VII, p. 181.

Footnote 53:

  Bücheler, _Carm. epigr._, 180, 1147, 1190, 1339, etc.

Footnote 54:

  Plato, _Apol._, 40c–41c.

Footnote 55:

  Cic., _Parad. Stoic._, II, 18: “Mors est terribilis iis quorum cum
  vita omnia exstinguntur, non iis quorum laus emori non potest.”

Footnote 56:

  Cic., _Pro Archia_, 11, 26; _cf._ _Tusc._, I, 15, 34.

Footnote 57:

  Diog. Laert., X, 16 = fragm. 217 Usener; _cf._ Plin., _H. N._, XXXV,

Footnote 58:

  Furtwängler, _Die antiken Gemmen_, III, 1900, 257 ss.

Footnote 59:

  See Lecture III, p. 97.

Footnote 60:

  Ovid, _Metam._, XV, 60 ss.

Footnote 61:

  Rohde, _Der Griech. Roman_^2, p. 270 s.

Footnote 62:

  Sen., _Quaest. nat._, VII, 32, 2.

Footnote 63:

  See Lecture IV, p. 121.

Footnote 64:

  _Revue archéologique_, 1918, VIII, p. 52 ss.

Footnote 65:

  Plato, _Republ._, VII, p. 514.

Footnote 66:

  See below, Lecture VIII, p. 209 ss.

Footnote 67:

  See Lecture VI, p. 167; _cf._ III, p. 103.

Footnote 68:

  See Lecture II, p. 81.

Footnote 69:

  See, for all this, Lecture III, p. 96 s.; _cf._ VIII, p. 195.

Footnote 70:

  See Lecture VIII, p. 212.

Footnote 71:

  See Lecture I, p. 66.

Footnote 72:

  See Lecture V, p. 133.

Footnote 73:

  See Lecture III, pp. 73, 81; VII, p. 181 s.

Footnote 74:

  _Cf._ Cic., _Tusc._, I, 11, 24.

Footnote 75:

  See Lecture VI, p. 151.

Footnote 76:

  Bücheler, _Carm. epigr._, 434.

Footnote 77:

  _Cf._ my _Astrology and Religion_, 1912, p. 83 ss.

Footnote 78:

  See above, p. 13.

Footnote 79:

  See Lecture III, p. 98.

Footnote 80:

  See below, Lecture III, p. 100 ss.

Footnote 81:

  Pascal, _Pensées_, III, 206 (t. II, p. 127, Brunschvigg): “Le silence
  éternel de ces espaces infinis m’effraie.”

Footnote 82:

  See Lecture III, p. 98; VI, p. 161 s.; VII, p. 184.

Footnote 83:

  See Lecture IV, p. 127; VIII, p. 210.

Footnote 84:

  Manilius, II, 115.

Footnote 85:

  See above, p. 22.

Footnote 86:

  Lehrs, _Populäre Aufsätze aus dem Altertum_, 1875, p. 349 ss.; Fowler,
  _Religious Experience of the Roman People_, p. 382 ss.

Footnote 87:

  _Cf._ my _Oriental religions in Roman paganism_, Chicago, 1911, p. 39

Footnote 88:

  See Lecture IV, p. 118 ss.

Footnote 89:

  See Lecture II, p. 76; VII, p. 171.

Footnote 90:

  See Lecture IV, p. 120; VIII, p. 204.

Footnote 91:

     “Alimenta vitae tribuis perpetua fide,
     Et cum recesserit anima in te refugiemus,
     Ita, quicquid tribuis, in te cuncta recidunt.”
                               (_Anthol. Lat._, ed. Riese, I, p. 27.)

Footnote 92:

  See Lecture IV, p. 122.

Footnote 93:

  See Lecture VIII, p. 202.

Footnote 94:

  See Lecture III, p. 96 ss.

Footnote 95:

  See Lecture II, p. 79.

Footnote 96:

  _Enn._, IV, 7.

Footnote 97:

  See Lecture III, p. 106; VI, p. 169.

Footnote 98:

  See Lecture VII, p. 184 ss.

Footnote 99:

  See Lecture IV, p. 108; VIII, p. 212.

Footnote 100:

  See Lecture II, p. 90; IV, p. 109; VIII, p. 196 ss., 206.

Footnote 101:

  Cic., _Tusc._, I, 12, §27.

Footnote 102:

  Lucretius, III, 890 ss.

Footnote 103:

  Servius, _Aen._, III, 68.

Footnote 104:

  Servius, _ibid._

Footnote 105:

  Propertius, IV, 5, 3: “Nec sedeant cineri Manes.” _Cf._ Lucan, IX, 2.

Footnote 106:

  Pliny, _H. N._, XVI, 44, §234; _cf._ Livy, XXXVIII, 53.

Footnote 107:

  _Cf._ my _Oriental religions_, p. 240.

Footnote 108:

  CIL, I, 1108: “Domum aeternam ubi aevum degerent.”

Footnote 109:

  Bücheler, _Carm. epigr._, 1555: “Haec certa est domus, haec est
  colenda nobis.”

Footnote 110:

  Virg., _Aen._, III, 67: “Animam sepulcro condimus.” _Cf._ Pliny,
  _Epist._, III, 27, 12: “Rite conditis Manibus.”

Footnote 111:

  See above, Introd., p. 10; Lecture VIII, p. 192.

Footnote 112:

  Petronius, 71: “Valde enim falsum vivo quidem domos cultas esse, non
  curari eam ubi diutius nobis habitandum est.”

Footnote 113:

  Lucian, _Philopseudes_, 27; _cf._ Dessau, _Inscr. sel._, 8379, l. 50

Footnote 114:

  Kaibel, _Epigr. Graeca_, 646 = Dessau, _Inscr. sel._, 8156; _cf._
  Lucian, _De luctu_, 19.

Footnote 115:

  Bücheler, _Carm. epigr._, 838 = Dessau, _op. cit._, 8204.

Footnote 116:

  Sueton., _Aug._, 15.

Footnote 117:

  _Cf._ p. 52, n. 20, and Lecture IV, p. 118.

Footnote 118:

  Servius, _Aen._, III, 67.

Footnote 119:

  _Cf._ _Comptes rendus Acad. des Inscr._, 1918, p. 284 s.

Footnote 120:

  Servius, _Aen._, V, 79: “Ad sanguinis imitationem, in quo est sedes
  animae.” _Cf._ II, 532.

Footnote 121:

  See above, Introd., p. 35, and Lecture VIII, p. 204.

Footnote 122:

  CIL, XI, 132 = Dessau, 7235.

Footnote 123:

  CIL, XIV, 3323 = Dessau, 8090: “Hoc peto aego a bobis unibersis
  sodalibus ut sene bile refrigeretis.”

Footnote 124:

  CIL, VI, 26554 = Dessau, 8139.

Footnote 125:

  Dessau, 8379.

Footnote 126:

  Lucian, _De luctu_, 37.

Footnote 127:

  Dessau, 8154 = CIL, XII, 5102 = Bücheler, _Carm. epigr._, 788:

              “[Eo] cupidius perpoto in monumento meo,
              Quod dormiendum et permanendum heic est mihi.”

Footnote 128:

  _De testim. animae_, 4.

Footnote 129:

  See below, Lecture VIII, p. 203 s.

Footnote 130:

  Augustine, _De mor. eccles._, 34: “Qui luxuriosissime super mortuos
  bibant et epulas cadaveribus exhibentes super sepultos se ipsos
  sepeliant et voracitates ebrietatesque suas deputent religioni.”

Footnote 131:

  _Constitutiones Apostol._, VIII, 42.

Footnote 132:

  Dessau, 8375: “Colant spiritum meum.”

Footnote 133:

  _Cf._ Petronius, 71: “Omne genus poma volo sint circa cineres meos et
  vinearum largiter”; Dessau, 8342 ss.; below, Lecture VIII, p. 200.

Footnote 134:

  Varro, _Lingu. Lat._, VI, 49 (45).

Footnote 135:

  _Arch. Epigr. Mitt. aus Oesterreich_, X, 1886, p. 64.

Footnote 136:

  Dessau, 6746.

Footnote 137:

  _Ibid._, 8130.

Footnote 138:

  _Ibid._, 1967; _cf._ 8139.

Footnote 139:

  Diog. Laert., VIII, 32; _cf._ Servius, _Aen._, III, 63; Lecture VI, p.

Footnote 140:

  Virg., _Aen._, IV, 685.

Footnote 141:

  See Lecture VI, p. 157.

Footnote 142:

  _Cf._ Porph., _De abstin._, II, 37.

Footnote 143:

  Servius, _Georg._, I, 277; _cf._ Dessau, 8006.

Footnote 144:

  CIL, VIII, 2803_a_: “Donata, pia, iusta, vale, serva tuos omnes.”

Footnote 145:

  Margaret Waites, _American journ. of archaeol._, 1920, 242 ss.

Footnote 146:

  Maxim. Tyr., _Diss._, IX (XV), 6.

Footnote 147:

  Plotinus, _Enn._, IV, 7, 20.

Footnote 148:

  Dessau, _Inscr. sel._, 8006. “Manus mala” means probably a murder
  produced by witchcraft; _cf._ _ibid._, 8522; Lecture V, p. 135.

Footnote 149:

  CIL, II, 4427: “Lacrimae si prosunt, visis te ostende videri.”

Footnote 150:

  Lucian, _Philopseudes_, 29.

Footnote 151:

  Dio Cassius, LXXIX, 18.

Footnote 152:

  Dessau, _Inscr. sel._, 8201_a_: “Tu qui legis et dubitas Manes esse,
  sponsione facta invoca nos et intelleges.”

Footnote 153:

  Ovid, _Fast._, II, 546.

Footnote 154:

  CIL, I, 818 = VI, 10407^e = Dessau, 8749: “Mortuus nec ad deos nec ad
  homines acceptus est.” _Cf._ CIL, X, 8249.

Footnote 155:

  CIL, VI, 12072: “Parce matrem tuam et patrem et sororem tuam Marinam,
  ut possint tibi facere post me sollemnia.”

Footnote 156:

  Audollent, _Defixionum tabellae_, 1904.

Footnote 157:

  See below, Lecture V, pp. 143, 145.

Footnote 158:

  Plato, _Republ._, X, 615 A B; _cf._ Norden, _Aeneis Buch VI_, p. 10.

Footnote 159:

  See Lecture V, p. 134.

Footnote 160:

  Virg., _Aen._, VI, 325 ss: “Inops inhumataque turba.... Centum errant
  annos volitantque haec litora circum.”

Footnote 161:

  Dessau, _Inscr. sel._, 7213 = CIL, XIV, 2112, II, 4.

Footnote 162:

  Sueton., _Calig._, 59; _cf._ Plautus, _Mostell._, III, 2.

Footnote 163:

  Pliny, _Epist._, VII, 27; Lucian, _Philopseudes_, 31.

Footnote 164:

  Audollent, _Defixionum tabellae_, 27, l. 18; _cf._ 22 ss.

Footnote 165:

  See Lecture V, p. 135.

Footnote 166:

  Heliodorus, _Aeth._, VI, 15.

Footnote 167:

  See Lecture VIII, p. 193.

Footnote 168:

  Leblant, _Épigraphie chrétienne de la Gaule_, 1890, 52 ss.

Footnote 169:

  Lawson, _Modern Greek folk-lore_, 1910, p. 403.

Footnote 170:

  Lucian, _De luctu_, 9.

Footnote 171:

  Piganiol, _Revue d’histoire et de litt. religieuses_, VI, 1920, p. 335

Footnote 172:

  _Cf._ Lucian, _De luctu_, 14.

Footnote 173:

  _Cf._ Dessau, 8379.

Footnote 174:

  _Aen._, VI, 653 ss.

Footnote 175:

  Ovid, _Metam._, IV, 443 ss.

Footnote 176:

  Bücheler, _Carm. epigr._, 1186:

                “Sed in secessum numinis infernae domus
                Oficiosus tandem ministerio laetatur suo.”

Footnote 177:

  See below, Lecture VI, p. 148.

Footnote 178:

  _Monumenti Antichi_, XXIV, 1917, pp. 5–116.

Footnote 179:

  See below, Lecture VII, p. 172 s.

Footnote 180:

  Furtwängler, _Archiv für Religionswissenschaft_, VIII, 1905, p. 191

Footnote 181:

  See Lecture I, p. 66.

Footnote 182:

  See Lecture VI, p. 151.

Footnote 183:

  See below, Lecture VII, p. 172 ss.

Footnote 184:

  See Introd., p. 6.

Footnote 185:

  See Introd., p. 29.

Footnote 186:

  Mullach, _Fragm. phil. Graec._, II, p. 33.

Footnote 187:

  Tim. Locr., _De anim. mundi_, 17, p. 104 D; _cf._ Schmekel, _Mittlere
  Stoa_, 1892, p. 435.

Footnote 188:

  _Cf._ Lecture VII, p. 178 ss.

Footnote 189:

  _Cf._ on this doctrine _Revue de philologie_, XLIV, 1920, p. 230 ss.

Footnote 190:

  _Cf._ Lecture VII, p. 181.

Footnote 191:

  See Lecture VI, p. 167.

Footnote 192:

  _Cf._ _Rev. philol._, _l. c._, p. 237 ss.

Footnote 193:

  On this doctrine see _Comptes rendus Acad. Inscriptions_, 1920, p. 272

Footnote 194:

  _Cf._ Lecture VI, p. 155.

Footnote 195:

  See Lecture VII, p. 185; _cf._ VI, p. 161 s.

Footnote 196:

  See Introd., p. 38 s.

Footnote 197:

  Cic., _Tusc._, I, 21, 48; _cf._ I, 6, 10; _Nat. deor._, II, 2, 5.

Footnote 198:

  Sen., _Epist._, 24, 18.

Footnote 199:

  Juvenal, _Sat._, II, 149 ss.

Footnote 200:

  Pliny, _H. N._, II, 63, §158.

Footnote 201:

  Plutarch, _Non posse suaviter vivi sec. Epic._, 27, p. 1105.

Footnote 202:

  _Cf._ Lucian, _De luctu_, 10.

Footnote 203:

  Bücheler, 1109, v. 19–24:

              “Non ego Tartareas penetrabo tristis ad undas,
              Non Acheronteis transvehar umbra vadis,
              Non ego caeruleam remo pulsabo carinam,
              Nec te terribilem fronte timebo Charon,
              Nec Minos mihi iura dabit grandaevus et atris
              Non errabo locis nec cohibebor aquis.”

Footnote 204:

  See, for instance, _Jahresh. Instit. Wien_, XVII, 1914, p. 133 ss.; or
  _Hermes_, XXXVII, 1902, p. 121 ss.

Footnote 205:

  _Cf._ Jahn, _Darstellungen der Unterwelt auf Sarkophagen_, in _Ber.
  Gesellschaft Wiss. Leipsig_, 1856, p. 267 ss.; Reinach, _Répertoire
  des reliefs_, III, 391; Berger, _Revue archéol._, 3^e serie, XXVI,
  1895, p. 71 ss.

Footnote 206:

  Sueton., _Tiberius_, 75, 1: “Terram matrem deosque Manes orarent, ne
  mortuo sedem ullam nisi inter impios darent.”

Footnote 207:

  Heliodorus, _Aeth._, VIII, 9, p. 231, 10, Bekker.

Footnote 208:

  _Jahresh. Instit. Wien_, XVIII, 1915, Beiblatt., p. 45.

Footnote 209:

  Plutarch, _Non posse suaviter vivi sec. Epic._, 27, p. 1105.

Footnote 210:

  Porph., _Sent._, 29 (p. 13, Mommert).

Footnote 211:

  Proclus, _In Remp. Plat._, II, p. 126, 10 ss., Kroll.

Footnote 212:

  Proclus, _ibid._, II, p. 131, 20 ss.

Footnote 213:

  Proclus, _In Remp. Plat._, I, 121, 23 ss., Kroll.

Footnote 214:

  Orig., _Contra Celsum_, VIII, 48 s.

Footnote 215:

  See Lecture IV, p. 113 ss.

Footnote 216:

  Porph., _De abstin._, 38 ss.; _cf._ Bousset, _Archiv für
  Religionswiss._, XVIII, 1915, p. 134 ss., and Andres in _Realencycl._,
  Supplementband, III, 315.

Footnote 217:

  _Cf._ _Comptes rendus Acad. Inscriptions_, 1918, p. 278 ss.

Footnote 218:

  Pliny, _H. N._, II, 8, § 28.

Footnote 219:

  Eusebius Alex., in _Patr. Graeca_, LXXXVI, 1, p. 453.

Footnote 220:

  _Cat. codd. astrol. Graec_, V, pars. 1, p. 196 ss.

Footnote 221:

  See below, Lecture VI, p. 357.

Footnote 222:

  Flinders Petrie, _Athribis_, London, 1908 (52 A. D.).

Footnote 223:

  _Cf._ below, Lecture VI, p. 154.

Footnote 224:

  Toutain, _Revue des études anciennes_, XIII, 1911, p. 166 ss.; _cf._
  _ibid._, p. 379 s.

Footnote 225:

  See below, p. 104, and Lecture VI, p. 153.

Footnote 226:

  E. Pfeiffer, _Studien zum antiken Sternglauben_, 1916, p. 113 ss.

Footnote 227:

  Pausanias, IV, 32, 4.

Footnote 228:

  Aristophanes, _Peace_, 832 ss.

Footnote 229:

  See below, Lecture IV, p. 111; _cf._ Introd., p. 24.

Footnote 230:

  Pliny, _H. N._, II, 26, § 95.

Footnote 231:

  Jamblich., _Vit. Pyth._, XVIII, 82 = Diels, _Vorsokratiker_, I^3, p.
  358, 18; _cf._ Plut., _De genio Socr._, 22, p. 590 C; Hierocles, _In
  Aur. carm._, end.

Footnote 232:

  Lucian, _Verae hist._, I, 10 ss.

Footnote 233:

  Castor, fragm. 24 and 25, Müller.

Footnote 234:

  See Introd., p. 29, and Lecture VI, p. 162.

Footnote 235:

  Julian, _Caes._, p. 307 c.

Footnote 236:

  Plato, _Rep._, VII, p. 514.

Footnote 237:

  Reproduced in my _Études syriennes_, 1917, p. 87; _cf._ below, p. 139.

Footnote 238:

  Wiegand, in _Abhandl. Akad. Berlin_, 1908. _Bericht_, VI, p. 46:

                 Στὰς πρόσθε τύμβον δέρκε τὴν ἄνυμφον
                 κόρην Διογνήτοιο νηπίην Χοροῦν,
                 ἥν θῆκεν Ἅιδης ἐν κύκλοισιν ἑβδόμοις....

Footnote 239:

  See _La théologie solaire du paganisme romain_ in _Mém. sav. étrangers
  Acad. Inscr._, XII, 1909, p. 449 ss.

Footnote 240:

  _Cf._ Introd., p. 28.

Footnote 241:

  See below, Lecture VI, p. 160.

Footnote 242:

  CIL, VI, 29954; see below, Lecture VI, p. 157 ss.

Footnote 243:

  Commodian, VIII, 10: “Sacerdotes ... numina qui dicunt aliquid
  morituro prodesse.”

Footnote 244:

  See Introd., p. 24 s.; _cf._ below, Lecture VI, p. 167.

Footnote 245:

  Lydus, _De mensib._, IV, 149 (p. 167, 25, Wünsch.).

Footnote 246:

  Lucan, _Phars._, I, 45; Statius, _Theb._, I, 27; _cf._ my _Études
  syriennes_, 1917, p. 97 s.

Footnote 247:

  Diog. Laert., VIII, 31.

Footnote 248:

  Ovid, _Metam._, XV, 840 ss.; _cf._ 749.

Footnote 249:

  Cassius, Dio, LXIX, 11, 4.

Footnote 250:

  Cic., _Tusc._, I, 12, 28: “Totum prope caelum nonne humano generi
  completum est?”

Footnote 251:

  _Revue de philologie_, XXXIII, 1909, p. 6 = IG, XII, 7, 123.

Footnote 252:

  _Revue de phil._, _ibid._; _cf._ Lecture V, p. 139.

Footnote 253:

  II _Cor._ 12, 2.

Footnote 254:

  Porph., _Sent._, 292 (p. 14, Mommert); Proclus, _In Remp._, I, p. 152,
  17, Kroll; _In Tim._, III, p. 234, 25, Diehl.

Footnote 255:

  _Cf._ my _Mysteries of Mithras_, Chicago, 1903, p. 145; below, Lecture
  VI, p. 169; VII, p. 187.

Footnote 256:

  Origen, _Contra Celsum_, VI, 21; _cf._ _Monum. mystères de Mithra_, I,
  p. 118.

Footnote 257:

  Apuleius, _De dogm. Plat._, I, 11.

Footnote 258:

  _Archiv für Religionsw._, IX, 1906, p. 323 ss.

Footnote 259:

  See, _e.g._, Plotin., III, 4, 6; _cf._ Lecture VIII, p. 213.

Footnote 260:

  See above, Introd., pp. 6, 41.

Footnote 261:

  _Ibid._, p. 7.

Footnote 262:

  See above, Lecture III, p. 96.

Footnote 263:

  Link, _De vocis “Sanctus” usu pagano_, Königsberg, 1910.

Footnote 264:

  Cic., _De natura deor._, II, 66, § 167.

Footnote 265:

  Manilius, I, 41; _cf._ Boll, _Aus der Offenbarung Iohannis_, 1914, p.
  136 ss.

Footnote 266:

  Pseudo-Ecphant. ap Stob., _Anth._, IV, 7, 64 (IV, p. 272 ss.,
  Wachsmuth); Hermes Trism. ap. Stob., _Ecl._, I, 49, 45 (I, p. 407, W).

Footnote 267:

  See below, Lecture VI, p. 156 ss.

Footnote 268:

  Cic., _Nat. deorum_, II, 66, § 165.

Footnote 269:

  _Somn. Scipionis_, 3; _cf._ _Pro Sestio_, 68, § 143.

Footnote 270:

  Hermes Trismeg. ap. Stob., _Ecl._, I, 49, 69 (I, p. 466, Wachsmuth).

Footnote 271:

  Maurice Muret, _Les contemporains étrangers_, Paris, I, p. 30.

Footnote 272:

  See my _Études syriennes_, p. 63 ss.

Footnote 273:

  CIL, VI, 1779 = Bücheler, _Carm. epigr._, 111, 23: “(Me) sorte mortis
  eximens in templa ducis....”

Footnote 274:

  Pseudo-Lysis ap. Jamblich., _Vit. Pyth._, 17, § 77.

Footnote 275:

  See Introd., p. 29; Lecture VII, p. 184 s.

Footnote 276:

  _Cf._ Lecture I, p. 51.

Footnote 277:

  CIL, VI, 510 = Dessau, 4152.

Footnote 278:

  Servius, _Aen._, VI, 741.

Footnote 279:

  See Introd., p. 35; _cf._ Lecture VIII, p. 204.

Footnote 280:

  Porph., _De abstin._, II, 48.

Footnote 281:

  _Cf._ _Comptes rendus Acad. Inscriptions_, 1917, p. 281 ss.

Footnote 282:

  See above, Introd., p. 37.

Footnote 283:

  Hermes Trismeg., _Poimandres_, I, 26: Τοῦτό ἐστι τὸ ἀγαθὸν τέλος τοῖς
  γνῶσιν ἐσχηκόσι θεωθῆναι.

Footnote 284:

  See below, Lecture VIII, 207.

Footnote 285:

  Apuleius, _Metam._, XI, 24: “Inexplicabili voluptate divini simulacri

Footnote 286:

  See _Oriental religions_, p. 100, and below, Lecture VIII, p. 210 ss.

Footnote 287:

  Papyr. of London, CXXII, 1 ss.; _cf._ Reitzenstein, _Poimandres_, p.

Footnote 288:

  Riewald, _De imperatorum Romanorum cum certis dis aequatione_, Halle,

Footnote 289:

  _Cf._ Gillis Wetter, _Die “Verherrlichung,” in Beiträge zur
  Relig.-Wissenschaft_, II, 1914.

Footnote 290:

  See below, Lecture VI, p. 158.

Footnote 291:

  See below, Lecture VIII, p. 212.

Footnote 292:

  Porph., _De Abstin._, II, 49.

Footnote 293:

  See below, Lecture VIII, pp. 201, 207, 211.

Footnote 294:

  See my _Mysticisme astral dans l’antiquité_ in _Bulletins de l’Acad.
  de Belgique_, 1909, p. 264 ss.

Footnote 295:

  See Lecture VIII, p. 210 ss.

Footnote 296:

  Virg., _Aen._, VI, 426 ss.

Footnote 297:

  Plut., _De genio Socratis_, 22, p. 590 F.

Footnote 298:

  Plato, _Republ._, p. 615 C; _cf._ Norden, _Aeneis Buch VI_, 1903, pp.
  11, 27.

Footnote 299:

  Achill. Tat., V, 16.

Footnote 300:

  Tertull., _De anima_, 57.

Footnote 301:

  Dessau, _Inscr. sel._, 8497 ss.; _cf._ _Recueil des inscriptions du
  Pont_, 9, 258.

Footnote 302:

  Horace, _Epod._, 5, 92; _cf._ Livy, III, 58, 11.

Footnote 303:

  Sueton., _Nero_, 34, 4.

Footnote 304:

  Sueton., _Calig._, 59.

Footnote 305:

  Porph., _Epist._, II, 2, 209: “Nocturnas Lemures: umbras vagantes
  hominum ante diem mortuorum et ideo metuendas.”

Footnote 306:

  Bouché-Leclercq, _Astrologie grecque_, p. 404.

Footnote 307:

  Diog. Laert., II, 5, §45; _cf._ Lamprid., _Heliog._, 33, 2:
  “Praedictum eidem erat a sacerdotibus Syris biothanatum se futurum.”

Footnote 308:

  Ptolem., _Tetrabibl._, III, 10 (p. 127, ed. 1553).

Footnote 309:

  Macrob., _Somn. Scip._, I, 13, 1, probably after Numenius (_Revue des
  études grecques_, XXXII, 1921, p. 119 s.).

Footnote 310:

  CIL, VIII, 2756 = Bücheler, _Carm. epigr._, 1604.

Footnote 311:

  Manilius, IV, 16.

Footnote 312:

  _Cf._ Schulze, _Sitzungsb. Akad. Berlin_, 1912, p. 691 ss.

Footnote 313:

  Demon: Kaibel, _Epigr. Gr._, 566, 4; 569, 3, etc.—Evil god: Dessau,
  8498; _cf._ 9093: “Cui (_sic_) dii nefandi parvulo contra votum
  genitorum vita privaverunt.”

Footnote 314:

  See Lecture I, p. 66 ss.

Footnote 315:

  Kaibel, _Epigr. Graeca_, 624.

Footnote 316:

  Rohde, _Psyche_, II^4, p. 411; _cf._ Perdrizet, _Negotium
  perambulans_, 1922, p. 19 ss.

Footnote 317:

  Audollent, _Defixionum tabellae_, 1904, p. 40, n^r, 22 ss.; see above,
  Lecture I, p. 68.

Footnote 318:

  Wessely, _Griech. Zauberpap. aus Paris_ in _Denkschr. Akad. Wien_,
  XXXVI, 1888, p. 85, l. 2577 ss., p. 86, l. 2645 ss.

Footnote 319:

  Cic., _In Vatin._, 6, 14; Horace, _Ep._, 5; Petronius, 63, 8.

Footnote 320:

  Bücheler, _Carm. epigr._, 987:

                “Eripuit me saga manus crudelis ubique,
                Cum manet in terris et nocet arte sua.
                Vos vestros natos concustodite, parentes.”

  _Cf._ Petronius, _l. c._, and Lecture II, p. 61, n. 48.

Footnote 321:

  Alex. Trall., I, 15, pp. 565, 567, Puschman.

Footnote 322:

  _Cf._ Pliny, XXVIII, 12, § 49.

Footnote 323:

  Tertull., _De anima_, 57.

Footnote 324:

  Norden, _Aeneis Buch VI_, p. 41.

Footnote 325:

  Sen., _Dial._, VI, 23, 1; Plut., _Cons. ad uxorem_, 11; _cf._ Dessau,
  8481 ss.

Footnote 326:

  See below, Lecture VII, p. 178.

Footnote 327:

  Bücheler, _Carm. epigr._, 1233.

Footnote 328:

  Kaibel, _Epigr. Graeca_, 324.

Footnote 329:

  Haussoullier, _Revue de philologie_, XXIII, 1909, p. 6; see above,
  Lecture III, p. 105.

Footnote 330:

  Bücheler, _Carm. epigr._, 569: “Vitaeque e limine raptus.... Non tamen
  ad Manes sed caeli ad sidera pergis.” _Cf._ _ibid._, 569, 611.

Footnote 331:

  See Lecture III, p. 99.

Footnote 332:

  Rohde, _Psyche_, II^4, p. 374, n. 2; Lawson, _Modern Greek folk-lore_,
  1910 p. 140 ss.; _cf._ Dessau, 8748.

Footnote 333:

  Bücheler, _Carm. epigr._, 1233; _cf._ Statius, _Silv._, II, 6, 100.

Footnote 334:

  Kaibel, _Epigr. Graeca_, 570, 571; _cf._ CIL, VI, 29195 = Dessau,
  8482: “Ulpius Firmus, anima bona superis reddita, raptus a Nymphis.”

Footnote 335:

  _Cf._ Anderson, _Journ. hell. stud._, XIX, 1899, p. 127, n^r, 142, and
  below, note 42.

Footnote 336:

  Cagnat, _Inscr. Gr. ad res Rom. pertin._, IV, 1377.

Footnote 337:

  Kaibel, _Epigr. Graeca_, 314.

Footnote 338:

  Bücheler, _Carm. epigr._, 1439; _cf._ 1400:

                “Vos equidem nati caelestia regna videtis
                Quos rapuit parvos praecipitata dies.”

Footnote 339:

  Cabrol et Leclercq, _Reliquiae liturgicae vetustissimae_, I, 1912,
  n^r, 2917; _cf._ 2974; 3153.

Footnote 340:

  Menander’s verse, “Ὃν οἱ θεοὶ φιλοῦσιν ἀποθνήσκει νέος,” is indeed
  translated into Latin in a Roman epitaph (Dessau, 8481).

Footnote 341:

  In Greek, βιοθάνατος is a popular form for βιαιοθάνατος. In Latin
  _biaeothanatus_ is found only in Tertull., _De Anima_, 57,
  _biothanatus_ everywhere else.

Footnote 342:

  _Aen._, VI, 477 ss.

Footnote 343:

  Horace, _Od._, III, 2, 21; _cf._ Introd., p. 13; Lecture IV, p. 113.

Footnote 344:

  Joseph., _Bell. Iud._, VI, 5, § 47.

Footnote 345:

  Servius, _Aen._, XII, 603.

Footnote 346:

  Pliny, _N. H._, II, 63, § 156.

Footnote 347:

  Dessau, _Inscr. sel._, 7846: “Extra auctorateis et quei sibei [la]queo
  manu attulissent et quei quaestum spurcum professi essent.”

Footnote 348:

  _Ibid._, 7212, II, 5.

Footnote 349:

  Plut., _Cato_, 68.

Footnote 350:

  _Cf._ _Revue des études grecques_, XXXII, 1921, p. 113 ss.

Footnote 351:

  Sen., _Controv._, VIII, 4, end.

Footnote 352:

  See above, Lecture I, p. 64 ss.

Footnote 353:

  Theophanes, _Chronicon_, p. 437, 3 ss., De Boor.

Footnote 354:

  Commodianus, I, 14, 8.

Footnote 355:

  Du Cange, _Glossarium_, s. v.

Footnote 356:

  Lawson, _Modern Greek folk-lore_, 1910, p. 408 ss.

Footnote 357:

  See above, Lecture II, p. 74.

Footnote 358:

  Transl. Harrison, _Prolegomena to the study of Greek religion_, 1903,
  p. 660.

Footnote 359:

  Thulin, _Etruskische Disciplin_, III, 1909, p. 58 ss.

Footnote 360:

  Xenoph., _Memorab._, II, 1, 21; _cf._ Hesiod, _Op. et dies_, 287 ss.

Footnote 361:

  Brinkmann, _Rheinisches Museum_, LXVI, 1911, p. 622 ss.

Footnote 362:

  See below, Lecture VIII, p. 205.

Footnote 363:

  See Lecture II, p. 76.

Footnote 364:

  Cic., _Tusc._, I, 30, 72.

Footnote 365:

  See above, Lecture III, p. 82.

Footnote 366:

  See above, Lecture III, p. 94.

Footnote 367:

  _Cf._ _Comptes rendus Acad. Inscr._, 1920, p. 277.

Footnote 368:

  Lactantius, _Inst._, VI, 3 s.

Footnote 369:

  Polyaen., VII, 22.

Footnote 370:

  See Lecture III, p. 107; _Monum. mystères de Mithra_, I, p. 118 s.;
  II, p. 525.

Footnote 371:

  Philo, _De somniis_, I, 22; Origen, _Contra Celsum_, VI, 21.

Footnote 372:

  Charles R. Morey, _East Christian paintings in the Freer collection_,
  New York, 1914, p. 17 ss.

Footnote 373:

  Ladder among other magical emblems on terra cotta discs found at
  Taranto; _cf._ _Revue archéologique_, V, 1917, p. 102.

Footnote 374:

  See above, Lecture III, p. 93.

Footnote 375:

  _Ibid._, p. 96.

Footnote 376:

  _Cf._ _Revue de philologie_, XLIV, 1920, p. 75.

Footnote 377:

  _Cf._ Joseph Keil, _Jahresh. Instituts Wien_, XVII, 1914, pp. 138,
  142, n. 13; Bormann, _Bericht des Vereins Carnuntum_, 1908–1911, p.
  330, where _Itala felix_ applies not to the ship but to the dead

Footnote 378:

  For instance, Dessau, _Inscr. sel._, 8031.

Footnote 379:

  _Cf._ my _Études syriennes_, 1917, p. 99, n. 1. So on the beautiful
  chariot of Monteleone in the Metropolitan Museum of New York (sixth
  century B. C.).

Footnote 380:

  _Cf._ my _Études syriennes_, p. 91 s.

Footnote 381:

  _Ibid._, p. 92, fig. 41.

Footnote 382:

  _Ibid._, p. 94, fig. 42; _cf._ below, p. 165.

Footnote 383:

  _Cf._ _ibid._, p. 95 s.

Footnote 384:

  II _Reg._, 2, 11.

Footnote 385:

  Kornemann, _Klio_, VII, p. 278; _cf._ _Études syriennes_, p. 98, n. 3.

Footnote 386:

  Eunap., _Hist._, fr. 26 (F. H. G. IV, 25; _cf._ _Études syriennes_, p.

Footnote 387:

  See above, Lecture III, p. 102.

Footnote 388:

  Weichert, _Der Seelenvogel in der alten Literatur und Kunst_, Leipzig,
  1902; see above, Lecture III, p. 93.

Footnote 389:

  _Études syriennes_, p. 38 ss.

Footnote 390:

  _Phaedr._, p. 246 C.

Footnote 391:

  _Anth. Pal._, VII, 62 = Diog. Laert., III, 44; _cf._ _Études
  syriennes_, p. 88:

              Αἰετέ τίπτε βέβηκας ὑπὲρ τάφον; ἢ τίνος, εἰπέ,
                ἀστεροέντα θεῶν οἶκον ἀποσκοπέεις;—
              Ψυχῆς εἰμὶ Πλάτωνος ἀποπταμένης εἰς Ὄλυμπον
                εἰκών· σῶμα δὲ γῆ γηγενὲς Ἀτθὶς ἔχει.

Footnote 392:

  _Cf._ _Études syriennes_, p. 57 ss.

Footnote 393:

  _Études syriennes_, 1917, p. 87, fig. 39.

Footnote 394:

  See Introd., p. 28.

Footnote 395:

  See Lecture III, p. 100.

Footnote 396:

  _Études syriennes_, p. 106 s.; _cf._ Lecture III, p. 101.

Footnote 397:

  See Lecture I, p. 59.

Footnote 398:

  Diog. Laert., VIII, 1, 27.

Footnote 399:

  Jul., _Or._, V, p. 172 C.

Footnote 400:

  Cic., _Tusc._, I, 42 ss.; Sextus Empir., _Adv. Math._, IX, 71, 4;
  _cf._ above, Introd., p. 29.

Footnote 401:

  Winds and souls, see below, Lecture VII, p. 185.

Footnote 402:

  See below, Lecture VII, p. 186; _cf._ Lecture II, p. 81.

Footnote 403:

  See Introd., p. 29; _cf._ Lecture VII, p. 185.

Footnote 404:

  See below, Lecture VII, p. 185.

Footnote 405:

  See above, Lecture III, p. 93, and p. 96 s.

Footnote 406:

  Dieterich, _Eine Mithrasliturgie_^2, 1910.

Footnote 407:

  Plato, _Phaedo_, p. 107 D, 108 B.

Footnote 408:

  Kaibel, _Epigr. Graeca_, 650 = _Inscr. Sic. Ital._, 2461.

Footnote 409:

  Haussoullier, _Revue de philologie_, XXIII, 1909, p. 6; _cf._ Lecture
  III, p. 105.

Footnote 410:

  See above, Lecture IV, p. 112.

Footnote 411:

  _Cf._ Rohde, _Psyche_, II^4, p. 376 s.

Footnote 412:

  See above, Lecture I, p. 45 ss., 59 ss.

Footnote 413:

  _Cf._ Cic., _Tusc._, I, 16, 37.

Footnote 414:

  See below, Lecture VIII, p. 199 ss.

Footnote 415:

  Lucretius, I, 124: “Simulacra modis pallentia miris.”

Footnote 416:

  See, for instance, above, p. 156.

Footnote 417:

  _Cf._ Proclus, _In Rempubl._, I, p. 290, 10 ss., Kroll.

Footnote 418:

  On this _katoptromanteia_, _cf._ _Revue archéologique_, V, 1917, p.
  105 ss.; Ganschinietz in _Realencycl._, s. v.

Footnote 419:

  See above, Lecture V, p. 130.

Footnote 420:

  See above, Lecture II, p. 79.

Footnote 421:

  _Cf._ _Revue de philologie_, XLIV, 1920, p. 237 ss.

Footnote 422:

  See Lecture III, p. 103.

Footnote 423:

  _Cf._ Lecture III, p. 107.

Footnote 424:

  Plato, _Phaedr._, 247 B; _cf._ _Phaedo_, p. 113 D.

Footnote 425:

  _Timaeus_, p. 41 D E.

Footnote 426:

  See above, Lecture III, p. 106 s., and Introd., p. 41; _cf._ p. 24.

Footnote 427:

  _Odyssey_, XI, 576 s.

Footnote 428:

  _Cf._ Rohde, _Psyche_, I^4, p. 61 ss.

Footnote 429:

  _Cf._ Plut., _De superst._, 7, p. 168 D.

Footnote 430:

  _Cf._ above, Lecture II, p. 75.

Footnote 431:

  _Cf._ Dieterich, _Nekyia_, p. 206 ss.

Footnote 432:

  Plut., _De sera num. vind._, p. 567 B.

Footnote 433:

  Dieterich, _Nekyia_, 1893 (2^d ed. 1913).

Footnote 434:

  Even the devout Plutarch rejects them as superstitious imaginations;
  _cf._ _De superst._, 167 A.

Footnote 435:

  _Aen._, VI, 625–628.

Footnote 436:

  Dieterich, _op. cit._, p. 197 ss.

Footnote 437:

  Punishment by fire is mentioned for the first time in Philodemos, Περὶ
  θεῶν, XIX, 16 ss. Philodemos being a Syrian, it is not unlikely that
  this tenet is of Oriental origin. _Cf._ Diels, _Abhandl. Akad.
  Berlin_, 1916, p. 80, n. 3.

Footnote 438:

  See above, Introd., pp. 8, 17 s., and Lecture II, p. 83.

Footnote 439:

  Herodotus, II, 123.

Footnote 440:

  The Druses have even preserved the ancient doctrine that the number of
  souls is always the same in the world. _Cf._ Silvestre de Sacy,
  _Religion des Druses_, 1838, II, p. 459.

Footnote 441:

  Dussaud, _Les Nosaïris_, Paris, 1900, p. 120 ss.

Footnote 442:

  See above, Lecture III, p. 101.

Footnote 443:

  _Cf._ Lucian, _Alex._, 43.

Footnote 444:

  Hermes Trismeg. ap. Stob., _Ecl._, I, 49, p. 398, 16 ss., Wachsmuth.

Footnote 445:

  Tim. Locr., p. 104 E.

Footnote 446:

  Ps.-Plut., _Vita Homeri_, 126; Porph. ap. Stob., _Ecl._, I, 49, 60, p.
  445, Wachsmuth.

Footnote 447:

  See above, p. 176.

Footnote 448:

  See above, Lecture II, p. 78.

Footnote 449:

  _Cf._ _Revue de philologie_, XLIV, 1921, p. 232 ss.

Footnote 450:

  Above, Introd., p. 13.

Footnote 451:

  Museum of the University of California; Kaibel, _Inscr. Sicil. et
  Ital._, 12, 1196. The sentence is taken from _Republ._, X, 617 C.

Footnote 452:

  Porph., _De regressu anim._, fr. 11, Bidez = Aug., _Civ. Dei_, X, 30;
  Jamblich. ap. Nemes., _De nat. hom._, 2; _cf._ Zeller, _Philos. Gr._,
  V^4, p. 713.

Footnote 453:

     “Has omnes, ubi mille rotam volvere per annos,
     Lethaeum ad fluvium deus evocat agmine magno,
     Scilicet immemores super ut convexa revisant,
     Rursus et incipiant in corpore velle reverti.”
                                                 _Aen._, VI, 749–753.

Footnote 454:

  See above, Lecture VI, p. 162, and Introd., p. 29.

Footnote 455:

  _Études syriennes_, p. 70.

Footnote 456:

  See Lecture VI, p. 161; _cf._ below, Lecture VIII, p. 196.

Footnote 457:

  Virg., _Aen._, VI, 740 ss.

Footnote 458:

  Plut., _De facie lunae_, p. 943 B.

Footnote 459:

  Ps. Apul., _Asclep._, 28.

Footnote 460:

  _Jahresh. Institut Wien_, XII, 1910, p. 213.

Footnote 461:

  See above, Lecture III, p. 107.

Footnote 462:

  Macrob., _Comm. Somn. Scip._, I, 11, 8; Proclus, _In Tim._, II, 48, 15
  ss., Diehl.

Footnote 463:

  Lecture II, p. 87 ss.

Footnote 464:

  See Lecture I, p. 64 ss.

Footnote 465:

  Tibullus, II, 6, 30: “Sic bene sub tenera parva quiescat humo.”

Footnote 466:

  Tertull., _De testimonio animae_, 4.

Footnote 467:

  _Securitati aeternae_; _cf._ Dessau, _Inscr. sel._, 8025 ss., 8149.

Footnote 468:

  Cic., _Catil._, IV, 7; _cf._ _Tusc._, I, 11, 25; 49, 118.

Footnote 469:

  Sen., _Dial._, VI, 19, 5.

Footnote 470:

  Dessau, _Inscr. sel._, 8024 and note; _cf._ Cic., _Tusc._, I, 41, 97;
  and Introd., p. 10.

Footnote 471:

  Bücheler, _Carm. epigr._, 1274:

                “Morborum vitia et vitae mala maxima fugi.
                Nunc careo poenis, pace fruor placida.”

Footnote 472:

  Bücheler, _ibid._, 573:

             “Qui post tantum onus, multos crebrosque labores
             Nunc silet et tacito contentus sede quiescit.”

Footnote 473:

  Bücheler, _ibid._, 507: “Poena fuit vita, requies mihi morte parata

Footnote 474:

  Transl. by J. C. Anderson (in my _Astrology and Religion_, p. 171).

Footnote 475:

  Dessau, _Inscr. sel._, 8393, 79: “Te di Manes tui ut quietam patiantur
  atque ita tueantur opto.”

Footnote 476:

  See above, Lecture I, p. 68; II, p. 86, n. 39; V, p. 134.

Footnote 477:

  See above, Lecture VI, p. 143.

Footnote 478:

  Virg., _Aen._, VI, 705: “Domos placidas.”

Footnote 479:

  See Introd., p. 34 ss.

Footnote 480:

  _Comptes rendus Acad. Inscr._, 1912, p. 151 ss.; _cf._ Bücheler,
  _Carm. epigr._, 513.

Footnote 481:

  Lecture III, p. 95.

Footnote 482:

  Lecture VI, p. 150.

Footnote 483:

  _Odyssey_, VI, 42 ss.

Footnote 484:

  Lucretius, III, 18 ss.

Footnote 485:

  Zeno, fr. 147 (von Arnim, _Fragm. Stoicorum_, I, p. 40): “Zeno docuit
  sedes piorum ab impiis esse discretas et illos quidem quietas ac
  delectabiles habitare regiones.”

Footnote 486:

  See Introd., p. 25; Lecture III, p. 96.

Footnote 487:

  Macrob., _Somn. Scip._, I, 11, 6: “Vitae mortisque confinium.”

Footnote 488:

  See above, Lecture II, p. 81 s.

Footnote 489:

  See Lecture VII, p. 185 s.

Footnote 490:

  Sen., _Consol. Marc._, 24, 5: “(Animus) nititur illo unde demissus
  est; ibi illum aeterna requies manet e confusis crassisque pura et
  liquida visentem.”

Footnote 491:

  Plotin., IX, 8, 9, p. 768 A; IX, 8, 11, p. 770 C.

Footnote 492:

  _Cf._ Aug., _Serm._, CCLX (P.L. XXXVIII, 1132, 38): “Dixerunt
  Platonici ... animas, ire ad superna caelorum et requiescere ibi in
  stellis et luminibus istis conspicuis.”

Footnote 493:

  Lecture I, p. 45 ss.

Footnote 494:

  _Ibid._, p. 69.

Footnote 495:

  St. Ambrose, _De bono mortis_, 9; _cf._ Kaibel, _Inscr. Sic. It._,

Footnote 496:

  Aug., _De anima_, II, 12.

Footnote 497:

  _Book of Enoch_, 39.

Footnote 498:

  IV _Esdr._, VII, 91: “Requiescent per septem ordines”; _cf._ VII, 95
  (p. 131 ss., Violet).

Footnote 499:

  IV _Esdr._, VII, 36, 38 (p. 146, Violet).

Footnote 500:

  Ambrose, _De bono mortis_, 12, § 53 (P.L., XIV, 154); _cf._ IV
  _Esdr._, VII, 39.

Footnote 501:

  See Lecture I, p. 50.

Footnote 502:

  See Lecture I, p. 54.

Footnote 503:

  _Ibid._, p. 57.

Footnote 504:

  Calder, _Journal of Roman Studies_, 1912, p. 254.

Footnote 505:

  See above, Lecture I, p. 55 ss.

Footnote 506:

  See Introd., p. 35; Lecture IV, p. 126.

Footnote 507:

  Lucian, _Verae hist._, II, 14.

Footnote 508:

  Best reproduction, Wilpert, _Pitture delle Catacombe Romane_, II,

Footnote 509:

  See above, Introd., pp. 35, 37.

Footnote 510:

  Aelius Arist., XLV (VIII), 27 (p. 360, Keil).

Footnote 511:

  See my _Oriental Religions_, Chap. IV, end.

Footnote 512:

  See Lecture IV, p. 122; Introd., p. 34.

Footnote 513:

  CIL, III, 14165.

Footnote 514:

  See Lecture I, p. 68; II, p. 86; V, p. 134.

Footnote 515:

  Bücheler, _Carm. epigr._, 1317 = CIL, VI, 142; _cf._ Plato, _Phaedo_,
  p. 107D.

Footnote 516:

  As it is elsewhere; _cf._ Introd., p. 11.

Footnote 517:

  Lagrange, _Religions sémitiques_^2, 1905, p. 493.

Footnote 518:

  Horace, _Od._, III, 3, 12.

Footnote 519:

  Lecture IV, p. 113 s., 116 ss.

Footnote 520:

  See, for instance, Kaibel, _Epigr. Graeca_, 312, 13.

Footnote 521:

  Julian, _Caesares_, p. 307 C; _cf._ Introd., p. 29; Lecture III, p.

Footnote 522:

  _Patrologia Orientalis_, I, p. 1014.

Footnote 523:

  See above, Lecture I, p. 55 s.

Footnote 524:

  Lecture IV, p. 121.

Footnote 525:

  For instance, by the physician Thessalus (under Nero); _cf._ _Cat.
  codd. astrol._, VIII, 3, p. 137; VIII, 4, p. 257.

Footnote 526:

  _Cf._ Lecture IV, pp. 121, 125 s.

Footnote 527:

  See above, Lecture IV, p. 126.

Footnote 528:

  P. 896 C; _cf._ p. 992 B.

Footnote 529:

  See above, Lecture IV, p. 126.

Footnote 530:

  The true interpretation has been given by Bevan, _Stoics and
  Sceptics_, 1913, p. 112 s.

Footnote 531:

  _Georg._, II, 489 ss.:

            “Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas,
            Atque metus omnis et inexorabile Fatum
            Subiecit pedibus, strepitumque Acherontis avari.”

Footnote 532:

  Νηφάλιος μέθη, Philo., probably after Posidonius.

Footnote 533:

  _Cf._ Lecture IV, p. 126.

Footnote 534:

  _Anthol. Palatina_, IX, 577:

            Οἶδ’ ὅτι θνατὸς ἐγὼ καὶ ἐφάμερος, ἀλλ’ ὅταν ἄστρων
              μαστεύω πυκινὰς ἀμφιδρομους ἕλικας
            οὐκετ’ ἐπιψαύω γαίης ποσὶν, ἀλλὰ παρ’ αὐτῷ
              Ζανὶ θεοτρεφέος πίμπλαμαι ἀμβροσίης.

Footnote 535:

  See Introd., p. 4.

Footnote 536:

  See Lecture III, p. 108.

Footnote 537:

  Μόνος πρὸς μόνῳ. The expression had been used by religion before being
  taken over by philosophy. _Cf._ _Le culte égyptien et le mysticisme de
  Plotin_, in _Monuments Piot_, XXV, 1922, p. 78 ss.


                          TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES

 1. P. 137, changed ἄνώνυμοι to ἀνώνυμοι.
 2. P. 137, changed ἄτρόφοι to ἄτροφοι.
 3. P. 225, changed Ἁγιάζο to Ἁγιάζω.
 4. P. 225, changed εἴς to εἰς.
 5. [391], changed ἀποσκοπεεις to ἀποσκοπέεις.
 6. [534], changed Οῖδ’ to Οἶδ’.
 7. [534], changed ἀμφιδρομους ἓλικας to ἀμφιδρόμους ἕλικας.
 8. Silently corrected typographical errors and variations in spelling.
 9. Archaic, non-standard, and uncertain spellings retained as printed.
10. Footnotes were re-indexed using numbers and collected together at
      the end of the last chapter.
11. Enclosed italics font in _underscores_.
12. Superscripts are denoted by a caret before a single superscript
      character, e.g. M^r.

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