Friday, 6 November 2015

Imagining the Afterlife


Apologies for having neglected the blog somewhat lately - things have been very busy at work, but I haven't totally forgotten it!

One of the things keeping me busy is organising a conference to take place at Newman and the University of Birmingham next June. The conference is on 'Imagining the Afterlife in the Ancient World', and is part of a new project I'm working on about how people imagine the afterlife and how that relates (or doesn't) to real world afterlife beliefs. The conference will be inter-disciplinary and cover a broad range of topics relating to how people thought about the afterlife in the ancient world.

I'm planning to do some comparative work for this project, comparing modern Western depictions of the afterlife and how they relate to Christian afterlife belief with ancient depictions of the afterlife and how they relate to ancient beliefs. I may post a few related reviews here, some of which may not be Classical themselves, but useful points of comparison. Suggestions for useful books, films or TV episodes are welcome!

UPDATE: The conference programme is now in place here!

11 comments:

  1. The very first thing that occurs to me are the Houseboat on the Styx books by John Kendrick Bangs, which posit an afterlife rather like that imagined by the ancients, but populated with many of the modern dead. Those are easily found on Project Gutenberg. There's also the extensive Heroes in Hell series, inspired by Bangs, edited by Janet Morris with some novels by CJ Cherryh.

    On the film front there's that Robin Williams movie about the afterlife. What Dreams May Come? I think that's the title, but I'm too lazy to look it up right now.

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    1. Cool, I'll check those out, thanks! I dimly remember What Dreams May Come coming out - it looked a bit rubbish so I never ended up seeing it!

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  2. It sounds like it'll keep you busy. I do recommend watching that Robin Williams film for the sense of world building and fantasy about the afterlife.

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    1. Will definitely check it out - I remember it having very pretty posters at the time!

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  3. You might want to take a look at Niven and Pournelle's Inferno, based on Dante's poem. As with the original, it mixes ancient and Christian mythology (both Minos and Charon figure briefly in it, as well as, of course Satan).

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    1. Brilliant, thank you! I have the poem itself sitting on my shelf waiting to be read properly...!

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  4. *SPOILER ALERT!* I'm sure you've thought of this but the film Gladiator has some fun but highly inaccurate scenes of the afterlife, including dead Maximus going through the gate of a grey town wall (crossing the final threshold)... I think these scenes have far too much influence from the later Judeo-Christian view of the afterlife.

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    1. True - I find Gladiator's afterlife really interesting, but it's not really very Roman!

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  5. The trailer for "What Dreams May Come" did not accurately represent the movie. It was pretty good, although I'm not sure about its connection with either classical or hellenistic understandings of the afterlife. Maybe I should watch the movie again.

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  6. The trailer for "What Dreams May Come" did not accurately represent the movie. It was pretty good, although I'm not sure about its connection with either classical or hellenistic understandings of the afterlife. Maybe I should watch the movie again.

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  7. What???? Dont B foolish, dear. You know how I know an afterlife exists?? Easy. Accident. Coma. About one month in Seventh-Heaven. Precisely, girl.

    How do you prepare? Easy. Become a Christian. Believe. Know this is our finite existence. Heaven or Hell exists. Do good works. Love thy nay-bore even if get on your nerves.

    Wiseabove.blogspot.com

    God bless you.

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