The Christian Hell and the Greek Underworld

Essay by scottascore09High School, 10th grade January 2007

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Since ancient civilizations people have been trying to explain what goes on after death. Throughout history, many cultures have had different theories about what happens. Two distinguished ideas of where people go after death are the underworld and Hell. The idea of the underworld came from the Greeks and Romans. A few famous works by the Greeks and Romans that talk about the underworld are The Iliad, The Aeneid, and, The Odyssey. A famous work that discusses Hell is Dante's Inferno. Hell is an accepted part of the Christianity religion and taught all over the world. The two beliefs are very similar but some distinct differences can be seen.

The idea of the Christian Hell has evolved from older beliefs. Originally Jews believed all dead people went to a gloomy place called Sheol. During the time of Christ, Jews then believed the wicked were separated from the good and put into a foul burning valley called Gehenna.

The idea of Gehenna was created for reasons of justice. People realized that the wicked people are not always punished rightfully during their life on earth. The Christian Hell has the same principles today. Hell is a place where people go because of the sins they have committed in their life. The wicked go to be physically, mentally, and eternally punished. They are completely removed from goodness and will never have a chance of salvation or the supernatural bliss of seeing God. God will decide whether people go to Heaven or Hell by their behavior on Earth. (Infotrac)

Unlike the Christian Hell, the underworld was not looked at negatively. The ancient Greeks believed after death everyone went to the underworld whether they were good or bad. The underworld consisted of many levels with good parts and terrible parts. People could either be happy,