march 2nd

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University of Toronto St. George
Joseph Bryant

Soc Religion March 2nd Death in Early Civilization -The dead must be treated honorably -the likelihood of the living being plagued by the vengeful dead -transition from neutral death (all human beings are fated to die and all human beings go to the same place) to moral death (death is now overlayed with the notion that the type of life you lived is going to determine what type of after-life you will have) -earlier regardless of whether you were a king or a commoner you would all go to the same place -from the odyssey- odysseus is consulting the dead when the spirit of achilles floats by. Odysseus is praising achilles and the spirit says to him that it is better to be a slave alive on the earth than to be a lord over all the spirits in the underworld. Even the heroic achilles is fated to the same death as everyone else -from writings from sumeria and Babylonia we can see that their focus is very much on the here and now and they ask for worldly fulfillments in this life rather than in the after life -Sargon of Assyria for example asks for long life, health and stability in his reign -All the calls to the divine in early civilizations are for long life and worldly pleasure -The polytheistic gods were basically about giving worldly advantages- fertility, success in trade etc. -In moral death, the central notion is that fates in the after life are going to differ. Not everyone will go to the netherworld. Some people will have a better fate and some people will have a worse fate. And from here the notion of hell rises. Hell is not everyone goes but rather those who transgress -sociologically, this development, (1)this means an intensive religious regulation of life, the imposition of a normative code for conduct (2) and it introduces the notion that this life is preparatory for the life to come -with the moral death idea, this world becomes subordinate to the afterlife picture
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