2019-2020 Catalog

RELS 265 Death, Dying, and Afterlife in the Ancient Mediterranean World

Questions about death dying and the afterlife plagued ancient cultures -- Greeks, Romans, Jews, and Christians. They asked: How does one live a life free of fear and anxiety over one's inevitable and impending death? How can one die with dignity -- whether violently or peacefully, whether of one's own volition or at the hands of other humans or God? How should the community structure rituals of death and what should be done with corpses? And how -- if at all -- will individuals live on in an afterlife? The central goal of this course is to familiarize students with the diversity of notions about death dying and afterlife in ancient cultures by analyzing literature (philosophical medical and poetic), rituals, and monuments of the ancient Mediterranean world. We will then contextualize these ideas noting how and why they developed from driving concerns and circumstances of particular communities, cultures, and historical moments.


4 units

Core Requirements Met

  • Pre-1800
  • Global Connections