Heaven and Hell
Ancient Greek Religion
Aspects of moral death entered Greek religion from Persia and Egypt. Legends of Pythagoras in the underworld and the Eleusinian mysteries bring this change. The distinction between swamps for outsiders and Elysium for initiates of the mysteries parallels a shift from Homer's neutral Hades to Plato's punitive Tartarus. In the Myth of Er, which concludes Plato's Republic, heaven preserves the righteous from further reincarnations, and Tartarus imprisons "the incurable" forever. The majority are reincarnated. In his version of moral death, therefore, Plato combined linear and cyclical time. In mythology, heroes the gods engendered with humans could, by apotheosis, attain eternal life among the Olympians. Like Hercules, they become constellations in the physical heavens.