By Emily Vermeule
The traditional Greeks dedicated a good portion in their poetic and creative power to exploring issues of demise. Vermeule examines the proof and fictions of Greek loss of life, together with burial and mourning, visions of the underworld, souls and ghosts, the worth of heroic dying in conflict, the hunt for immortality, the associated powers of dying, sleep, and love, and extra.
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From Publishers Weekly
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Additional info for Aspects of Death in Early Greek Art and Poetry
In< 8' l,(I'T€o. 8v1'6r, the spirit left the bones; Mn~ txnJo. 6 \\1herc cxcarnation by predators was practiced in normal death, and on battlefield occasions of sudden violent death. the vulture and the fox (or in some countries the jackal and hyena) became the instruments of cleansing. Their intimate and ambiguous association. 7 The rccon· structcd rites of the vulture shrines of Neolithic Qatal HiiyUk in central Anatolia (fig. <1s bodies, the skulls collected and preserved in baskets, the gre-at birds with their Railing wings, and the acknowledgement that physical destruction rnay ulti~ mate ly be to spiritual and community advantage.
CopynghtE'C miltenal Ciu:ATURES OF THE DAY 39 Poetic formula may sometimes grant Thanatos hands and legs, but not often. 7 14), or duck under, vrraAJea. 451, vs. 327), an image trans· ferred from thrown spears or raised swords. He has heavy hands once (XXI. 414), but die impact of that formula is softened, a.. f]s, a mist or darkness, as a wave overwhelms a ship. Thanatos can make an ugly noise, Sv07Jris, but never docs so when a ma n dies; the noise is in the minds of gods who fear fo r particular men, like anxious parents liste ning for a crash.
B), emerges from t he sunless reedy lake, an unburled ps;dl "beneath the windy darkness_," brightly lit on the Lykaon Painter's vase (fig. 22), and of normal size and solidity. 6s). In Bacehylides' witty Fifth Ode, the ghost of ~leleager "shone distinctlyn among the dead, "brilliant in armor," a ghost that can also cry and make jokes. To worry that, for rc::ligious consistency, the ps;rtht ought to be small and disembodied, should reflect no nonexistent light, should have no juice to make tears and no feelings co prompt them; that dead Tantalos ought not to be hungry and thirsty, dead Tityos ought to have no liver for the vulture to eat, dead Sisyphos• body ought not to have enough flesh to make the sweat pour down his legs as he pushes the shameless stone, is to confuse folklore with religion, and above all tp be discourteous to the poet.
Aspects of Death in Early Greek Art and Poetry by Emily Vermeule