Nice puppy! William Blake's version of Cerberus, the dog that guards the realm of the dead.
Goat Rope is trailing the journey of Odysseus these days and the next stop is the underworld. If you scroll down, there are also links and comments about current events.
One of the pivotal moments of Homer's Odyssey is the visit its hero paid to the land of the dead. Only a few others in Greek and related myths were able to get there and go back again.
One such was Theseus of Minotaur fame, who went there with a buddy as part of a hare-brained scheme to capture Persephone, wife of Hades, the lord of the dead. That didn't work out so well and he was stuck in a chair there until rescued by Heracles, who visited the land of the dead when stealing Cerberus as part of his 12 labors.
The musician Orpheus visited the underworld after the death of his beloved Eurydice. His musical talents were such that Persephone allowed him to bring her back to the land of the living if he didn't look back on the way out. He did and she didn't. Another mystery cult (see yesterday's post) developed around Orpheus which also promised to provide advantages after death and seemed to include ideas of reincarnation.
Toward the end of his Republic, Plato tells the tall of Er, a soldier who dies and tours the underworld before returning to life. He saw various kinds of rewards and punishments being dispensed as well and learned about the process of reincarnation
In the Roman epic the Aeneid of Virgil, the hero Aeneas has to visit the underworld to consult the shade of his father and learn about the destiny of Rome which he is fated to found. As with Plato, souls destined for rebirth on earth had first to drink from the river of Lethe or forgetfulness so they wouldn't remember their previous lives.
Early Christian converts from paganism were fascinated with what happened to Jesus between his death and resurrection and developed charming traditions about "the harrowing of hell," in which the victorious Christ liberated the souls of Adam, Eve and other figures from the Hebrew Bible before rising on Sunday morning. According to 1 Peter 4:6,
For unto this end was the gospel preached even to the dead, that they might be judged indeed according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.
One line from the Apostle's Creed states of him that "he descended into hell," which helped to inspire speculation. The harrowing of hell was the subject of some apocryphal gospels.
Last but not least, the Italian poet Dante's Divine Comedy tells of that poets tour through Hell, Heaven and Purgatory (check Goat Rope archives for an earlier series on that).
The consensus of the ages seems to be that getting there isn't the problem for most folks--getting out again is.
ON A RELATED NOTE, a report from the World Health Organization calls social justice a matter of life and death.
WORST DAY ON WALL STREET since 2001. Let's hope tomorrow's headlines don't say 1929. Thought for the day: isn't it a good thing we didn't let President Bush privatize Social Security?
THE RIPPLE EFFECT. From the Sept. 22 print edition of Business Week:
Losing a job isn't just a career setback, it can be a permanent blow to the community, a recent study finds. Using data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, which tracked 4,000 high school graduates over 45 years, researchers at UCLA and the University of Michigan studied the community involvement of workers aged 35 to 53. Their finding: After being laid off, employees were 35% less likely than before to participate in community or church groups, charitable organizations--even bowling teams. And few returned once they got new jobs. Instead, they focused their energies on professional and political groups--in the belief, hypothesizes UCLA sociology professor Jennie Brand, that both could have an impact on finding and keeping work.
HOLY KARMA, BATMAN! After years of lobbying--to the tune of $40 million--for tougher bankruptcy laws, lenders are now starting to feel the pain of getting what they asked for. My heart breaketh...
THIS CAN'T BE TRUE because it would be inconvenient for the coal industry. QED.
GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: ELEVATED