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e-Portfolio for Afterlife in the Ancient World

A. Travia, Last Revised 21 September 2019


Purpose.



I was born and raised in Florida and am a first generation transfer student. I currently do research in and am pursuing dual degrees in Mathematics (BA) and Physics (BS) at the University of South Florida. I graduate in Fall 2020 and intend to pursue a postgraduate program to continue research in mathematical/theoretical physics. I worked a few years before coming into higher education and after volunteering to help people with mathematics early on, I immediately decided to major in it. I like working on problems that are inspired by physics but that are amenable to mathematics—in that the questions are exact and there can be a little more room for creativity. Below, I give a little more detail on the two big projects I'm focused on now.



The first is motivated by symmetries found in certain types of two-dimensional fluid turbulence (such as the picture above taken from a paper of D. Bernard, G. Boffetta, A. Celani, and G. Faklovich entitled Conformal Invariance in Two-Dimensional Turbulence , Nature Physics, 2, 21:124-128, 2006) for which my advisor in the Mathematics Department, Dr. Teodorescu, and I are trying to provide a corresponding theory based on gauge theory. I've presented about this work recently at the Institute of Advanced Study/Park City Mathematics Institute's (IAS/PCMI's) 2019 Undergraduate Summer School as well as the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Canada. I'm working on a Mathematics Senior Thesis for it this semester and am presenting on our work this November in Seattle, WA at the American Physical Society's (APS') 72nd Annual Division of Fluid Dynamics Meeting as well as next January in Denver, CO at the Joint Mathematics Meeting.

My other project is with Dr. Rabson of the Physics Department and draws inspiration from trying to improve upon the understanding of electronic properties of structures called quasicrystals; the above picture is a theoretical example of one known as a Penrose tiling, named after Sir Roger Penrose. The standard way to understand electronic structure of such objects is the Fourier transform; another class of transformations are known as wavelets. Our research has evolved into proving things about how one ought to choose a wavelet for a particular application, which we intend to use for our original endeavor about quasicrystals. I'll be presenting about our work at USF's upcoming Fall URS Research Expo on Monday, 7 October 2019, and in Denver, CO at the APS' March Meeting in 2020. Below is a picture of my first presentation on mathematical physics this past summer at the IAS/PCMI event.

In my remaining spare time, I answer mathematics/physics questions on Quora and enjoy independently tutoring. I also have played classical piano most of my life and have a personal goal of learning and improving on playing all of Chopin's Nocturnes; though I'm in no rush.





Reflection on Course Notes from Monday, 26 August 2019.

Today, it was discussed how the course is to be a neutral and evidence-based study of many culture's views on the afterlife. Such a topic can often be obscured by sources such as the media and even published texts, unfortunately. I find it refreshing that our studies will be unbiased and find that to become aware of what's going on in the world really requires an in depth exploration into various views of religion and particularly the afterlife, as powerful people's views on these ideals have shaped and continue to shape our world. The heavily-emphasized writing aspect of the course combined with evidence-based studies suggest that we are encouraged to be creative and dig deep into each of our own perspectives on what we learn about. In particular, the content of this course is not to be primarily based on any textbook, but rather a myriad of sources that we will piece together and explore as a class. In my experience studying math/physics, I find the same multi-sourced approach to be most effective and least biased to any one person's ideas; as such, I feel this approach is particularly useful to historical content, where we might avoid subjectivity and bias as much as possible.

As far as ancient Egyptian history, we started by discussing two major Egyptian laws as well as the view of women in Egyptian society and a simple example of what many famous movies get wrong with ancient history. The quite majorEgyptian laws discussed included (1) everyone must be buried in Egypt in order to reach Duat; failing this, they would not be allowed into the afterlife at all. Also, (2) no harm or murder was to be inflicted on one Egyptian by another, by punishment of stoning the guilty to death. In this time, we also learned that women were viewed as "defective men". This concept feels familiar historically and I find it curious that it took so many centuries before this or related ideas were more widely abolished. Lastly, we touched on the use of a "thumbs up" in ancient Rome being the sign to kill. Although my former Latin teacher protested at the numerous mistakes in the famous "Gladiator" film, this is one I was certainly unaware of. It goes to show how the sources we learn from have such an understanding of the world around us.

In summary, I very much appreciate how the plan is being sensitive to learning evidence-based and multi-sourced information in order to naturally create our own opinions. Indeed, the clarity with which information is received can indeed be world-changing such as in the case of scientists trying to inform politicians about global weather phenomena. Thus, I find that taking a portion of the first lecture to mention how important this is to be really great and I look forward to the course!

Reflection on Course Notes from Wednesday, 28 August 2019.

Today's lecture emphasized that the Egyptians loved life and actually were not in any sense obsessed with the afterlife or morbidity. They did, however, believe that their life continued on into the afterlife and so many customs and plans were involved in ensuring Egyptians did go on to the afterlife. Though it may be an oversimplified speculation and we certainly don't want to pretend to know why the concept of the afterlife was invented, I wonder if it was merely a sense of being prepared for what they could not know was to come; we naturally fear what we don't know and perhaps having a strong sense of the afterlife eased that fear. Again, I stress that this is just my speculation.

We also discussed how the Egyptians maintained bloodlines along with the concepts of Duat and Ma'at. In particular, royalty carried on their bloodline via incest; though a concept now abhorrent in modern times, it was commonplace for the Egyptians and indeed for centuries after them. At some point, people became more aware of the verifiable increased probability birth defects and this practice thankfully ceased. Meanwhile, a concept which we will explore moreso throughout the course is that known as Duat, which is understood as the home of the dead as well as the Egyptian gods. That they both share a home is an interesting belief system which might suggest some notion of equality between the divine and man in the afterlife. In the associated readings, I also found the development of the pyramid and coffin texts and finally the book of the dead to be a kind of similar notion of a developing a small sense of equality in the extremes of social classes - at least in the sense of the afterlife. There are no doubt similar notions in other religions and I wonder if the notion of sharing a life after death with the divine was an integral development to the idea of the afterlife.

Lastly, we discussed the idea of the principle ma'at and the goddess Ma'at. The former, ma'at, being the principles of both truth and justice and the latter, Ma'at, being the very personification of those principles, herself. The gods of ancient Egypt played a myriad role in Egyptian culture. While Ma'at and others emobided important ideals, others played a more divinely utilitarian role such as Ra bringing the sun in for the Egyptians in every day after proving victorious over Apep, a servant of darkness whom Ra must battle every night. Hapy was another god representing the Nile river itself. As we can see, praying to Ra and Hapy makes sense as the Nile and the sun were essential to Egyptian agriculture and sustaining life. I find it interesting that amidst polytheism in many religions, there are such diverse roles of both gods and godesses and can only wonder how ancient peoples believing in such religions may pray to a particular god for good crops or perhaps they may be having an internal struggle and prayed to Ma'at to help them be just.

Reflection on Course Notes from Wednesday, 4 September 2019.

The lecture today started being more specific to the actual path Egyptians take in the afterlife. As earlier discussed, one of the two big focuses of all Egyptian people was that they must be buried in Egypt to even be considered for going on to the afterlife. Failing this, there was no chance to be admitted to Duat. It was pointed out that specifically the initial burial site had to be in Egypt; that is, one could not be moved after an initial burial somewhere else and still partake in the afterlife. The Egyptians believed that if one was not allowed into afterlife, then, that they would simply cease to exist. So, in some sense, the Egyptians wanted their spirits, also known as their akh, to live forever. From the initial readings, I recalled that both the ka (the double) and the akh (spirit) were parts of the self available to all Egyptians even from the first and second Dynasties before the Old Kingdom (which began in Dynasty III). Meanwhile, the part of self known as ba which allowed access to the celestial realms started out in the Pyramid texts as being onyly allowable to the noble class. By the time of the Coffin texts, however, all also had access to ba. Lots of what went on in life was carried over into the afterlife. In particular, pharoahs remained pharoahs but gained more power. Similarly for Egyptian citizens, their social class didn't change dramatically but gained a more heightened status. This concept is a familiar one from last class, called Ma'at , (the ideal not the goddess) meaning order and justice carry over into the afterlife.

Another aspect of the afterlife discussed was the large role of mummification; an idea very central to their idea of the afterlife. For mummification was required if one wanted to conserve their very spirt (akh). The Egyptians would place their deceased in sarcophagi, which they believed to be flesh eaters instead of mere coffins. As we know from the reading, much surrounded the deceased Egyptians to help them into the afterlife, such as statues and various texts used to help orient the spirit on their journey into the afterlife. For example, they were reminded of much in their life and beliefs and the statues also aided in the body actually finding their respective akh (spirit). So, the Egyptians wanted to really ensure that people, upon meeting the requirements, had a smooth transition into the afterlife in order that their akh would be everlasting.

One such guide in the afterlife was Osiris who would lead souls into judgement located at the so-called Hall of Truth, where Egyptians would admit all of their negative deeds. I find this method of saying all the things one has failed to do in life quite direct and cannot think of any modern religions which share the same sentiment. So it would seem we return to the idea that Egyptians are constantly concerned that their actions in their first life echo in the next in a quite direct and possibly catastrophic way; for if their heart outweighed the feather of truth, it would be devoured and they would simply cease to exist. The final discussion of this lecture discussed Egyptian's idea of paradise and how scholars believe this may be referring to the Garden of Eden so frequently written about in the books of Genesis (which apparently was written in ancient Egyptian) as well as in Assyrian texts. Upon further independent research, I found that the Garden of Eden (viewed in this sense) mayh be referring to the Garden of Aton (Adon) or the city of Amarna. I'm very curious to learn how different versions of paradise are connected to each other among different religions!

Reflection on Course Notes from Monday, 9 September 2019.

Upon watching the mummification video, I learned that part of the idea was to preserve the bodies as naturally human beings decay from a combination of bacteria interacting with moisture. The first mummies were so-called sand mummies, where the sand naturally preserved the bodies. Although in modern times, morticians use a combination of removing fluids and killing bacteria, ancient Egyptians preferred dessication; it was noted that this is not the same as embalming. The belief was their bodies were still needed for the afterlife. Although various social classes entering the afterlife or not varied with which Egyptian dynasty we're talking about, one longheld belief was that the king's afterlife enabled the rulers to become one with Osiris. Further, the pharaoh's son would then become one with Osiris' son Horace and become the new king. I found this an interesting duality in that Egyptians tried to in some ways really rid the distinction in status between one life and the next; instead they viewed one as a continuation of the other, maintaing ma'at . We learned that mummies were buried not just in the pyramids but as well as in a necropolis (city of the dead) known as the Valley of the Kings, built by the Pharaoh Hatshepsut and where modern day archaeologists have found over sixty tombs to date. The pyramids themselves had chambers which allowed the akh (spirits of the dead) to find Duat. While mummification was done so widely, it required a high level of expertise as we learned from the video.

To perform the mummification involved four priests, with music, and a very humid environment - likely to present moisture and promote conservation. The four priests entered ceremoniously in a single line. The first of them would specifically use orange paint in order to mark the location for cutting on the deceased. The remaining priests pelted the first with pelts as purely a symbolic act of upholding Egyptian law. The first priest is not actually killed, but this adherence to law even in ritual I found to be very strict! They took their two laws quite seriously. The next priest then remains in isolation the remainder of that day and takes no part in the mummifcation process - leaving the remaining three to complete the process. They used a chemical, natron, (sodium bicarbonate) in order to dessicate the body. Internal organs were then placed into a canopic jar, of which the heart was to be considered very important. The brain shockingly was extracted through the nose and discarded as it was considered useless! I found this as quite a surprise considering how brilliant and ahead of their time the Egyptians were. After removing the organs, they used linen to stuff the empty skull along with sometimes riches, depending on the class of the individual. The priests then began to wrap the body from toe to head while they added natron along with resin in order to ensure the wrappings were tight. Later, the priests returned and removed the natron, thus completing the process.

We also learned that the builders who constructed many of the grandiose structures where mummies were buried unfortunately knew the secret ways in and stole from them. The corruption even went so far as to give false wrappings of deceased pets. Further, it was discussed how Europeans started finding mummies in 1000 AD and ground their bodies into paste which they ate! This practice carried on by those of high social standing and was known as Mummia in Arabic. I found this very odd and disturbing!

Reflection on Course Notes from Monday, 16 September 2019.

Using the beliefs of the Egyptian afterlife as a guide, we explored an evidence-based construction of the epic history surrounding the woman Pharaoh Hatshepsut, her adopted son Moses, her first-born Thutmoses III, and their remarkable lives. Hatshepsut herself was distinguished as the first child of Pharaoh Thutmoses I and so called the Daughter of the Pharaoh or the Throne Princess and was quite aware of her intended grandiose future (as a goddess and leader of the largest civilization in the current world) from a very young age. Though not everyone deals with such power very well, Hatshepsut seemed to use her position to have a remarkable influence on Egypt. In fact, I believe she was vastly ahead of her time as it would take countless centuries before even the thought of religious freedom would come to exist for most powerful societies. Around the time of Moses' adoption by Hatshepsut, I found the following paraphrased from Exodus 2:3 rather curious.

"Moses' mother Jochebad, placed him in an ark along the reeds."

Though Moses was Jewish, the Egyptian's A'aru or field of reeds represented their afterlife. Moses himself was found floating in an arc in the Nile, which was viewed as the Egyptian god Hapy. I wonder if Hatshepsut seeing him, possibly floating among the reeds, may have also prompted her to adopt Moses. Perhaps it reminded her of actions' consequences in her own afterlife (a thought which no doubt pervaded all Egyptians as these events happened well into the New Kingdom, when all had access to A'aru); although, receiving him from a god may certainly have been enough motivation. I can only speculate. I found the whole discussion of Hatshepsut's motivation to adopt Moses to be very telling as to how important it is to study religions' views on the afterlife - for centuries, it has influenced many very powerful people who's decisions have shaped and will continue to shape the modern world. As a mathematical physicist in training myself, I naturally find evidence-based information that shapes the world quite fascinating - in particular, the fact that people's views of the afterlife is constantly affecting the world we live in requires no one's belief nor approval. It merely is a natural and large part of the human experience, for better or worse.

Image Source: Milam, Whitney. Hatshepsut: Meet the Female Pharaoh Who Ruled Egypt as a Man, 8 October 2015, https://amysmartgirls.com/hatshepsut-meet-the-female-pharaoh-who-ruled-egypt-as-a-man-953722dcfb73, cited 17 September 2019.




Reflection on Course Notes from Wednesday, 25 September 2019.

The song for today was Unforgettable by Nat King Cole - a song he sang for his daughter, Natalie. Sadly, he passed while his daughter was still a teenager. As a young woman, the pair sang together and we had the pleasure of watching this second music video. The video had a moving camera that started far away with Nat King Cole singing and then moved to his daughter, wearing a prom dress, as she started to sing. She started to remember him as the video went on. The location was in an attic where there were old photos and a television. As the video continued, the graphics quite beautifully flowed from one singer to the other, though the shot seemed to be focus on Natalie's perspective while her father sometimes sung in the background. Then it showed her even watching her father on various television sets, followed by slides of them together in her childhood. The video seemed to cherish aspects of both of their lives suggesting perhaps that they were both unforgettable to one another. There was even an album with pictures shown, showing he will live on to her.

We then discussed the format for the Critical Analysis and Group Paper Essay. The introduction should have a thesis with restrictions - wecan use 4 or 5, but if there are that many, then you should use headings. No quotes in the introduction! Body Paragraph 1 should begin with the first restriction Body Paragraph 1 should begin with the first restriction; it should include information/evidence, a quote followed by an interpretation of about equal length (aim for around 4 lines each). Close body paragraph 1 with re-stating restriction one. If the quote is 4 or more lines, put it in a block and centered. Conclusion should have background, then thesis, followed by 3 restrictions, then re-state the thesis again. No quotes in conclusion, either. For the critical analysis, we should have roughly 3 quotes, and no more. Include a works cited page. Double-space everywhere, and use a 12pt font. Ask the group which civilizations they're doing for their critical analysis essays.

We then returned to the Greco-Roman's views on the afterlife. We recall that people prayed in groups as the gods did some quite terrifying things. Homer was a bard (singer) legendary for his works including he Iliad, Odyssey, and Homeric Hymns. As far as gods/humans feelings against each other, the gods especially disliked mortals who had hubris and would kill their loved ones. In Greek, Cerberus was 'Kerberos'. According to Hesiod, Cerberus was the secon of the four monstrous children of Typhon and Echidna, being born after Orthus, the two-headed hound who guarded the cattle of Geryon, but before the Lernean Hydra and, quite possibly the Chimaera - all of them were multi-headed! There was no uniformity according to scholars on just how many heads Kerberos had. There were only three occasions when Cerberus was tricked by visitors of Hades. Hercales did it with his strength, Orpheus with his music. Hesiod also added that Cerbrus' monstrosity was almost indescribable and was called the brazen-voiced hound of Hades is fifty-headed, relentless and strong. Meanwhile, Pindar says he has 100 heads.

The Egyptians and Greco-Romans both share this non-uniformity, whereas when we will speak about the Jews/Christians, there is much more uniformity.

Hades does no judging in the afterlife; he only rules over it. Epithets for Hades included the Other Zeus, the grisly god, and the host of many, the attractor of man. Original goddess was Gaia. We recalled that Poseidon was god of all water and earthquakes. Hades ssociated with the Nekromanteion, the "Oracle of the Dead". It was a the meeting of the five rivers in the realm of Hades - the Acheron (Joyless), Pyriphlegethon (Flaming with Fire), . There would be a priest there and you could pay to ask where their loved ones are, perhaps costing a sacrifice so as Hades wouldn't hurt them. The acoustics of the Necromanteion were astonishing and allowed the priests' voices to do some mysterious things. Necromancy is indeed talking to the dead, so the name is appropriate. For Hebrews/Christians, communicating with the dead isn't allowed as it's thought people would just be communicating with fallen angels and not actually their loved ones.

The gods possesed many human traits according to Homer such as lust, petulance, jealousy, and dishonesty. As far as lying, Hermes was one of the biggest (Mercury); he was also the patron god of thieves. The most famous of all the oracles was located in Delphi, believed to be the center of the world by the Greeks. People came from all over the world to get their questions answered. It in fact became the first international banking system! This is reasonable since currency was required in order to see the priestess, 'pithia'. There existed a myriad source of omens from birds, entrails, and even the rustling of the leaves. We recall as Greeks sought meaning in life and hope for the afterlife, they were drawn to cults and mystery religions.

In Homer's Odyssey, the slain hero Achilles says the following from the underworld: "I would rather serve as laborer to a serf, to a landless man who has no great livelihood, than rule all the perished dead." We have actually found the city of Troy. It takes Odysseus (Ulysses) 10 years to get back home to Ithaca, the content of the Odyssey. 1260 starts the Trojan War which ends in 1250. In fact, when Alexander goes to Persia, the first place he goes is to get Achilles' golden armour as he was one of his two major heroes. Recall Persephone was the wife of Hades and it was the sunless place where there were just 'shades' and 'shadows'.

Styx, Acheron, Cocytus, Phlegethon, Lethe - Hades' five rivers. Hades was divided into 4 regions - Tartarus (worst people), Elysian Fields, Fields of Mourning (for those who were hurt by love - such as the wives of those who passed in the Trojan War), and the Asphodel Meadows (for the souls of the majority of ordinary people). Though most of what we know about the underworld's geography was by Homer and Virgil, even these visions sometimes conflicted. In a sense, the Aeneid was written by the Roman Aeneid to be a greater piece of literature than the great works of Homer, like the Odyssey which speaks of the afterlife. According to Homer, the Underworld was located beyond the earth-encircling irer of the Ocean, at the far western end of the world. A cavern near the ancient two nof Tenarus is situatied at the tip of the middle promontory of Peloponnese (back then known as Cape Tanaerum, and today called Cape Matapan). Cape Tanaerum picture where Heracles actually dragged Cerberus out! Then, the bottomless Alcyonian Lake at Lerna was where the fearsome Hydra guarded it. Here is where Dionysus entered the Underworld to search for his mother Semele. It's also where Hades abducted his to-b wife Persephone. Get picture of Alcyonian Lake at Lerna, too; beautiful. There was also the volcanic Lake Avernus in southern Italy. This is where Aeneas descends into Hades, put picture of this, too. I wonder how the different views of the afterlife of the Egyptians vs. Greeks had any relationship with the to-be much higher number of laws developed in Greece. Why might fearing the afterlife have an affect of developing a significant legal system.

I asked Dr. Donley about the effects on the legal system after class and he reminded me that the popular Greek democratic system was founded centuries later. Perhaps as the Greeks tended to have a bigger fear of the gods than their Egyptian counterparts, it led them to develop a stronger government at least in some small part; this is just speculation. I shared these thoughts with my old roommate and we had a long discussion about politics which was nice and informative as they know much more about politics than me.




Reflection on Course Notes from Wednesday, 30 September 2019.

Today's lecture involved watching the play, Antigone , written by Sophocles. He was a significant playwright, known for numerous works, including Oedipus Rex . The two sisters are Antigone and Ismene, the brothers Eteocles and Polynices. Polynices is in a sense a traitor for leading an army against his hometown of Thebes and his uncle, the king. Thebes wins, but the brothers kill each other in this war. Eteocles is from Thebes, and him and his brother, the traitor, killed each other. This is the setting that starts us for the play. In particular, we look out for Sophocles teaching us about the Greek concept of the afterlife. The play starts with putting up a large picture as a tribute to Crayon (brother of the fallen king Oedipus), the to-be king. Something bad has happened with respect to the afterlife. The chorus doubles as the government of the time who provides background information throughout the play. The palace area is a re-creation of the standard circle where Greek plays take place.

The play starts with a distressed Antigone looking for her sister, Ismene. She's worried about all the people she loves - indicating a result of hubris and the punishment of the gods. She is worried about being overheard by others - that one brother will be buried with full honors, and the other with none - left to rot on the battlefield. Antigone seeks her sister's aid to go against the rule of the king - by pain of stoning to death - in order to bury her brother. Ismene, however, thinks they should follow the king's rule. Antigone remains headstrong, regardlesss of the law in place, and there is a large discussion on the status of men and women in the current day. Antigone finds her headstrong way to be the only honorable choice and seems to think that failing to bury her brother perhaps might have consequences in her own afterlife. The chorus tells of how the gods punished the brother's hubris and have caused his loved ones to suffer as a consequence. They then talk about the victory of Thebes in winning the battle as the king Crayon, the new king, enters to take his throne. We then first see the chorus doubling as the government as the new king has called the senators to a meeting. He reassures them that the state is his first priority, over his friends and loved ones.

Thus Sophocles shows us both sides of the issue - Antigone having her way and Crayon having his - in order to setup a conflict to come. Someone nervously enters the room letting Crayon know he discovered that the traitor's body was buried. Crayon immediately assumes someone is bribing a cohort into breaking his laws - this seems a bit rash for his first act as king - it shows us again how important his concern for the afterlife is, as well. Crayon goes so far as to accuse the messenger as being involved in the burial. It ends with a threat to the messenger that he must find the conspirator(s) upon pain of public humiliation and possibly death. The messenger returns with Antigone as a prisoner, though the king does immediately realize the implications her burying the body may have on himself. She remains honest and headstrong and confesses to Crayon, face-to-face. For she believes that the laws of the gods are everlasting, and the temporary law/arrogance of Crayon should make her disobey the truelaw. Crayon takes this as an insult. The moral argument Sophocles is that of the ability to recognize common decency - love towards family. In comes Antigone's sister as Crayon suspects she was involved, though we no from the start that she refused to play a part

Then, Ismene shockingly comes to her sister's protection, despite that she was not involved. So, we have a growing notion of the unconditional love of family and the unconditional respect of the proper way to help them get into the afterlife. With hubris causing the conflict already, perhaps the sisters believe that if they obey Crayon's own views - which they may consider hubris - then more misfortune may befall them. In comes the prince 'Heyman' who is to marry Antigone. Though initially Heyman reassures his father, the king, of his unshaking loyalty, surely Heyman must bring some uncertainty with him. Sophocles' inclusion of Heyman offers a voice to his father which he would listen to moreso than any of his advisors. Although Crayon proclaims that his rule should be distinct from family and kinship, his son's opinion clearly has an effect. In particular, Heyman tells his father that he should follow his wisdom and not anger. It is a subtle suggestion which a senator even suggests. He makes the point that it is Creon's law, not the state's, and that if we follow only one person's law, we lose the concept of state. It was pointed out that 500 years after Antigone was written by Sophocles (in 441 BC) that democracy comes to be in ancient Greece. This conversation foreshadows the coming government in a sense.

Though, unfortunately, power corrupts and Crayon is unwilling to listen to moral reason, instead too in love with his new kingship. Crayon's anger and hubris finally shines through in the conversation with his son. Upon the king's threat to kill Antigone in front of her fiance, Heyman leaves. The king then decides to only kill Antigone but to wall up her sister in a cave with enough food only to avoid guilt. Perhaps Creon himself knows he is wrong on some level and fears the consequences of hubris; this is interesting as the whole play, itself, can be viewed as the consequences of hubris.


Reflection on Course Notes from Wednesday, 2 October 2019.

We returned to watching Antigone in today's lecture. Immediately, after her condemnation, she expresses how there is no love waiting for her in the afterlife. The senators try to offer her solace. She compares herself to the tormented story of a goddess, but the senators think the comparison is too extreme. She takes it as an enormous insult; this is reasonable as she must be fragile with her fate already having been sealed. She says she'll see her mother in the place of the shades. We recall that at that time, it was expected of women to give offspring; the senators have offer no support to her on these accounts. After Creon enters, she pleads with the senators/chorus again that no offspring are to come and tries to get them to understand her perspective, to no avail. The chorus speaks to the audience and seem to, in their way, support Antigone. Tyrisious, a blind man, and his son enter; Sophocles brings him in as another voice Creon values. He is a blind seer who foretells an omen coming from Creon's treatment of Polyneices. The oracle has helped Creon before and is quite brutal in telling Creon how he will suffer. Creon is finally listening at which point the senate tells him to completely withdraw from his actions - freeing Antigone and giving Polyneices a proper burial. Creon finally goes off to release Antigone and the chorus says a prayer to the gods, likely to try and stave off the foretol isaster.

It seems to have taken external advice to get through to Creon, as those commonly close to him and his kin had no affect on him - this is ironic as he previously said those close to him ought to have no affect on the state. They clearly did. We then learn that the king's son, who previously tried to offer him advice, has now died. Euridyce, his mother and the wife of Creon, learns of this and enters wanting to know what really happened. One with Creon tells how they first buried Polyneices and then, walking up to free Antigone, they hear Creon's son's voice inside. They found Antigone hanging and dead while her fiance was sitting next to her. The son spat on his father and drew his sword, which he then used to kill himself as he took a last grasp of his fiance, Antigone. They ended up together afterall, to the horror of Creon. The queen holds her tongue and simply leaves the room - no doubt, the story is extreme for anyone, let alone the mother of a fallen son.

Creon enters again with his fallen son and is entirely broken. As if that wasn't enough, he then finds his wife dead, also. The queen blamed Creon for each death and, having been told this, Creon accepts the guilt. Creon seems to do all things in extreme - seeming without any experience of much hardships in his own life. Being in this position sure gave him a ridiculous amount of hardships, but seemingly too late in life. For even if he learns from his actions at this point, all those dearest to him have already faded away. Creon wanted the law of the state to be free of family influence, mostly surrounded with the same people - family or senators (kind of yes men); as soon as an external perspective he breaks. We noted how the play ended with Creon hunched over, not kingly looking at all, sitting in his throne. We later will discuss the condemnation of Socrates and how it's related to Antigones - in particular, Socrates refused to escape pain of death. So we learn that Sophocles is teaching us to avoid hubris, because if you have it you will be very sorry. We emphasized that the law this play is so concerned with was of Creon's own making; it was not one of Thebes.


Reflection on Course Notes from Monday, 7 October 2019.

We started the lecture with a mental warmup, watching the Trolley Song from Meet Me in St. Louis, sung by Judy Garland. She starts looking for her love interest, Johnny, while on the trolley. The movie was set in the year 1900. She sang as the trolley itself was being shaken. This is rare even today and showcased her great talent as a triple threat.

We then started back our afterlife discussion with Mt. Olympus which has many peaks - the summit of which was Mytikas, where the gods lived. We continued on with a review of the gods/goddesses. According to Hesiod, Typhon is the father of all monsters - the son of whom was kerberos. Echidna was the mother of all monsters. Typhon is both a god and a monster which is very rare; he is often described as the most powerful and fearsome god in Greek myth. In particular, he was a giant who's head touched the stars. He had the torso of a man, legs of coils of vipers. His main head had on it 100 snakeheads who would make different sounds of animals. His eyes glowed red and had a savage jaw which would breathe fire. His boy had hundreds of different wings. He is an example of an ancient fire-breathing dragon.

We reviewed that although the gods' despised humans with hubris, they too very much had it along with a number of bad moods. We also reviewed that odern Cape Tanaerum is where Heracles went down into the underworld and grabbed Kerberos, one of many entrances. Tartarus was the worst place, far beneath Hades. In fact the new testament written in koine, also borrowed the word tartarus although the meaning was vastly different. Tartarus held the Cyclopes and Hecatoncheires. Basically it was home to the worst of the worst. Some famous inhabitants inluded Sisyphus, Tantalus, Ixion, and Tityos. The Fields of Mourning from Aeneid were reserved for the souls of those whom ruthless love did waste away. Almost all of the fields' inhabitants mentioned by Virgil were women, including Phaedra and notably Dido. This suggests the role of women in those times was far worse than it is now. The Asphodel Meadows portion of Hades may have been a realm of utter neutrality, though we know that here Odysseus meets the shade of Achilles in Homer's Odyssey. While the Egyptians carried on doing what they were doing in life, the Greeks had a total lack of it, as we recall from Sophocles' Antigone who also spoke of these shades. The Elysian Fields was ruled either by Rhadamanthus or Cronus (or both) - texts disagree. It was a land of eternal sunlight and rosy meadows. Only the most exceptional mortals were privileged with a life here that was free of toils and pain. We recall that Rhadamanthus was one of the judges in the afterlife.

Thanatos (the embodiment of death) was the god of non-violent death who would reach down and cut a lock of hair from your head as you died. We are told his touch was gentle and had a twin brother Hypnos (the god of sleep). Violent death on the other hand was the domain of Thanatos' blood-craving sisters, the Keres, the spirits of slaughter and disease. Then, Hermes the messenger of the gods, would lead you to the entrance of the underworld where a ferry awaited to carry it across either the Acheron or the river Styx. The ferry was rowed by Charon (the moon of Pluto) and it was his job to take you to Underworld proper. He required a fare of coins (obols) placed on the eyes and under the tongue when buried. In fact, Aeneas was only able to go into Hades once his guide Sybil showed Charon a golden bough, Aeneas' gift for Persephone. So, in summary, Thanatos takes you gently, Hermes transports you, and then Charon takes you to Hades proper.

For the Greeks, if your body had been buried, then Charon the ferryman, trannsported you across the river. This explains why Antigone was so upset; her brother had no way of entrance into the afterlife. On the bank of the river, one encounters Kerberos. Once Charon ferries the souls to the other side; the newly dead are at the mercy of the three judges Minos, Rhadamanthus, and Aeacus. They decide the fate of the souls and send them to one of three places. For the Greeks and Egyptians, where one goes in the afterlife depends on what they had done in their life. Minos, we recall, was the first king of the Minoans who built the maze and had the famour minotaur, eventually killed by Thesus. Most souls seemed to end up in the neutral zone, the Asphodel Meadows. If chosen for Elysium, the souls first are taken to the river Lethe in order to forget about their entire lives and commence a restful, 'stress-free' afterlife. In Tartarus on the other hand, it featured Tantalus standing near a table covered with delicious food, but was never able to reach it. Then, Sisyphus destined to push a rock up a hill over and over. These represent the torment of Tartarus. Ritual burials in Greece involve washing of the body and placing coins for the ferry-man. In particular, when Greeks conquered Egypts, they even adopted the Egyptian act of mummification.

Tombs and gravestones had heads of Gorgons carved on the tomb doors to ward off evil. Valuable objects, jewlery, and coins were also included in Greek burials even though they couldn't be used by the deceased, unlike the Egypitans. The Greeks were the ones who started visiting their loved ones' tombs periodically and decorating them. Heroes including Heracles, Thesus, Orpheus, and Odysseus descended to Hades and returned successfully. The journey there was known as katabasis. Heracles' main confrontation with death comes in his 12th labor, where he had a katabasisto capture kerberos and bring him back from Hades. Hercules was the Roman name and was the greatest hero of Greek mythology. He was the son of Zeus, making him a demi-god. Zeus' queen Hera was in fact jealous of Heracles, and when he was an infant she sent two snakes to kill him in his crib. Heracles was found having strangled a serpent in each hand, making baby noises. Once Heracles had already come to age being a great marksmen, wrestler, and posessor superhuman strength, he was driven mad by Hera. In a frenzy, he killed his own children (driven by Hera). To attone for his crime, he was sent to perform a series of Labors for his cousin Eurystheus, the king of Tiryns and Mycenae. By rights, Heracles should have been king himself, but Hera tricked eus into crowning Eurystheus instead. In short, Hera is involved in everything in Hercules' life. We recall that along with Jason, Heracles was also an argonaut. In his final labor, he went down to capture Kerberos - the first barrier to the journey was the famous river Styx.


Reflection on Course Notes from Monday, 9 October 2019.

The singer for today's mental warmup is Howard Keel. The song, Bless your Beautiful Hide, in the movie Seven Bridges for Seven Brothers, produced in 1954. The context of the movie is set in the 1800's. This song in particular involves the singer looking for a wife. He's a bass/baritone with a very full voice and good vibrato control. The movie itself has the longest dance scene ever filmed.

After the mental warmup today, we broke up into groups and started discussing our research papers. My group wanted to work on contrasting the Greeks and Egyptians as far as the journey to each of their respective afterlives and the big figures souls would see along the way. I was very pleased with this topic and enjoyed the class time today, even though we didn't cover any new material.









Reflection on Course Notes from Wednesday, 28 August 2019.

Today's lecture emphasized that the Egyptians loved life and actually were not in any sense obsessed with the afterlife or morbidity. They did, however, believe that their life continued on into the afterlife and so many customs and plans were involved in ensuring Egyptians did go on to the afterlife. Though it may be an oversimplified speculation and we certainly don't want to pretend to know why the concept of the afterlife was invented, I wonder if it was merely a sense of being prepared for what they could not know was to come; we naturally fear what we don't know and perhaps having a strong sense of the afterlife eased that fear. Again, I stress that this is just my speculation.

We also discussed how the Egyptians maintained bloodlines along with the concepts of Duat and Ma'at. In particular, royalty carried on their bloodline via incest; though a concept now abhorrent in modern times, it was commonplace for the Egyptians and indeed for centuries after them. At some point, people became more aware of the verifiable increased probability birth defects and this practice thankfully ceased. Meanwhile, a concept which we will explore moreso throughout the course is that known as Duat, which is understood as the home of the dead as well as the Egyptian gods. That they both share a home is an interesting belief system which might suggest some notion of equality between the divine and man in the afterlife. In the associated readings, I also found the development of the pyramid and coffin texts and finally the book of the dead to be a kind of similar notion of a developing a small sense of equality in the extremes of social classes - at least in the sense of the afterlife. There are no doubt similar notions in other religions and I wonder if the notion of sharing a life after death with the divine was an integral development to the idea of the afterlife.

Lastly, we discussed the idea of the principle ma'at and the goddess Ma'at. The former, ma'at, being the principles of both truth and justice and the latter, Ma'at, being the very personification of those principles, herself. The gods of ancient Egypt played a myriad role in Egyptian culture. While Ma'at and others emobided important ideals, others played a more divinely utilitarian role such as Ra bringing the sun in for the Egyptians in every day after proving victorious over Apep, a servant of darkness whom Ra must battle every night. Hapy was another god representing the Nile river itself. As we can see, praying to Ra and Hapy makes sense as the Nile and the sun were essential to Egyptian agriculture and sustaining life. I find it interesting that amidst polytheism in many religions, there are such diverse roles of both gods and godesses and can only wonder how ancient peoples believing in such religions may pray to a particular god for good crops or perhaps they may be having an internal struggle and prayed to Ma'at to help them be just.


Reflection on Course Notes from Wednesday, 4 September 2019.

The lecture today started being more specific to the actual path Egyptians take in the afterlife. As earlier discussed, one of the two big focuses of all Egyptian people was that they must be buried in Egypt to even be considered for going on to the afterlife. Failing this, there was no chance to be admitted to Duat. It was pointed out that specifically the initial burial site had to be in Egypt; that is, one could not be moved after an initial burial somewhere else and still partake in the afterlife. The Egyptians believed that if one was not allowed into afterlife, then, that they would simply cease to exist. So, in some sense, the Egyptians wanted their spirits, also known as their akh, to live forever. From the initial readings, I recalled that both the ka (the double) and the akh (spirit) were parts of the self available to all Egyptians even from the first and second Dynasties before the Old Kingdom (which began in Dynasty III). Meanwhile, the part of self known as ba which allowed access to the celestial realms started out in the Pyramid texts as being onyly allowable to the noble class. By the time of the Coffin texts, however, all also had access to ba. Lots of what went on in life was carried over into the afterlife. In particular, pharoahs remained pharoahs but gained more power. Similarly for Egyptian citizens, their social class didn't change dramatically but gained a more heightened status. This concept is a familiar one from last class, called Ma'at , (the ideal not the goddess) meaning order and justice carry over into the afterlife.

Another aspect of the afterlife discussed was the large role of mummification; an idea very central to their idea of the afterlife. For mummification was required if one wanted to conserve their very spirt (akh). The Egyptians would place their deceased in sarcophagi, which they believed to be flesh eaters instead of mere coffins. As we know from the reading, much surrounded the deceased Egyptians to help them into the afterlife, such as statues and various texts used to help orient the spirit on their journey into the afterlife. For example, they were reminded of much in their life and beliefs and the statues also aided in the body actually finding their respective akh (spirit). So, the Egyptians wanted to really ensure that people, upon meeting the requirements, had a smooth transition into the afterlife in order that their akh would be everlasting.

One such guide in the afterlife was Osiris who would lead souls into judgement located at the so-called Hall of Truth, where Egyptians would admit all of their negative deeds. I find this method of saying all the things one has failed to do in life quite direct and cannot think of any modern religions which share the same sentiment. So it would seem we return to the idea that Egyptians are constantly concerned that their actions in their first life echo in the next in a quite direct and possibly catastrophic way; for if their heart outweighed the feather of truth, it would be devoured and they would simply cease to exist. The final discussion of this lecture discussed Egyptian's idea of paradise and how scholars belive this may be referring to the Garden of Eden so frequently written about in the books of Genesis (which apparently was written in ancient Egyptian) as well as in Assyrian texts. Upon further independent research, I found that the Garden of Eden (viewed in this sense) mayh be referring to the Garden of Aton (Adon) or the city of Amarna. I'm very curious to learn how different versions of paradise are connected to each other among different religions!


Reflection on Course Notes from Monday, 9 September 2019.

Upon watching the mummification video, I learned that part of the idea was to preserve the bodies as naturally human beings decay from a combination of bacteria interacting with moisture. The first mummies were so-called sand mummies, where the sand naturally preserved the bodies. Although in modern times, morticians use a combination of removing fluids and killing bacteria, ancient Egyptians preferred dessication; it was noted that this is not the same as embalming. The belief was their bodies were still needed for the afterlife. Although various social classes entering the afterlife or not varied with which Egyptian dynasty we're talking about, one longheld belief was that the king's afterlife enabled the rulers to become one with Osiris. Further, the pharaoh's son would then become one with Osiris' son Horace and become the new king. I found this an interesting duality in that Egyptians tried to in some ways really rid the distinction in status between one life and the next; instead they viewed one as a continuation of the other, maintaing ma'at . We learned that mummies were buried not just in the pyramids but as well as in a necropolis (city of the dead) known as the Valley of the Kings, built by the Pharaoh Hatshepsut and where modern day archaeologists have found over sixty tombs to date. The pyramids themselves had chambers which allowed the akh (spirits of the dead) to find Duat. While mummification was done so widely, it required a high level of expertise as we learned from the video.

To perform the mummification involved four priests, with music, and a very humid environment - likely to present moisture and promote conservation. The four priests entered ceremoniously in a single line. The first of them would specifically use orange paint in order to mark the location for cutting on the deceased. The remaining priests pelted the first with pelts as purely a symbolic act of upholding Egyptian law. The first priest is not actually killed, but this adherence to law even in ritual I found to be very strict! They took their two laws quite seriously. The next priest then remains in isolation the remainder of that day and takes no part in the mummifcation process - leaving the remaining three to complete the process. They used a chemical, natron, (sodium bicarbonate) in order to dessicate the body. Internal organs were then placed into a canopic jar, of which the heart was to be considered very important. The brain shockingly was extracted through the nose and discarded as it was considered useless! I found this as quite a surprise considering how brilliant and ahead of their time the Egyptians were. After removing the organs, they used linen to stuff the empty skull along with sometimes riches, depending on the class of the individual. The priests then began to wrap the body from toe to head while they added natron along with resin in order to ensure the wrappings were tight. Later, the priests returned and removed the natron, thus completing the process.

We also learned that the builders who constructed many of the grandiose structures where mummies were buried unfortunately knew the secret ways in and stole from them. The corruption even went so far as to give false wrappings of deceased pets. Further, it was discussed how Europeans started finding mummies in 1000 AD and ground their bodies into paste which they ate! This practice carried on by those of high social standing and was known as Mummia in Arabic. I found this very odd and disturbing!


Course Notes from Monday, 16 September 2019.

The main figure guiding today's course notes was the female Egyptian Pharaoh Hatshepsut.

She was the daughter of the Pharaoh Thutmoses I (as well as the sun god Ra, aka Re) who raises Moses as her own child. We recall that being the firstborn of a Pharaoh is a distinguished position; female firstborns are referred to as the daughter of the Pharaoh and Throne Princess . Being the daughter of a god, it meant that marrying her would make one a god, themselves. She was by far the most powerful woman of that time who ends up running the entire country as well as the army. Interestingly, she lived right during the time of Moses and was only 7 years older than him. Below is a timeline of some major historical events surrounding these figures.

Next is a timeline of some major events in the life of Moses, who apparently lived for 120 years! When discussed in literature, his life is frequently divided into four parts.

Let's return to Hatshepsut's mortal father, Thutmoses I. Exodus 1:22 tells us that he murdered Jewish baby boys. Meanwhile, Exodus 2:5-10 tells us that Thutmoses I had a daugher Hatshepsut, the Throne Princess , who believes she's a goddess (daughter of Ra, aka Re); she is told this her entire life. There is some controversy surrounding some of the mistreatment of Jews, such as slavery. Though some scholars insist there were no slaves in Egypt, tomb inscriptions for Thutmoses III suggest that there were. His tomb shows slaves carrying/laying brick.

As to the history of Moses, Exodus 2:1-4 and Acts 7:21 tells us that Amram and his mother Jochebad were the parents of Moses who was (1) hidden for 3 months, (2) when exposed his mother made an arc (what we thinkg of as a box), and (3) Exodus 2:3 tells us that she placed the arc among the reeds , where Hatshepsut (age 7) would later discover him. Exodus 2:7-9 states that Miriam (Moses' sister) watched and asked Hatshepsut if she needed a wet-nurse. Hatshepsut, although knowing Moses was Jewish, adopted him as he was found floating in the Nile (the Egyptian god Hapy aka Nilas to the Greeks) and perhaps (?) among the reeds , perhaps reminiscent of the Egyptians afterlife suggesting that she should be mindful of her actions (this is just speculation). So again, Hatshepsut thinks Hapy brought her Moses! We recall that maat dictates that if anything bad happens in Egypt, the Pharaoh gets blamed, so she definitely wanted to please the god Hapy. Hatshepsut named Moses after her father, Thutmoses I, where the very name Moses, itself, means to draw out , i.e. to give birth.

After Thutmoses I dies, Thutmoses II becomes Pharaoh and marries Hatshepsut; they are brother and sister, as was common practice in that age. Once Thutmoses II died, it was Thutmoses III who was born and intended to be the next Pharaoh; however, Thutmoses III was only 5 years old while Hatshpesut was 18-19 years old already (far into womanhood at those times). So, Hatshepsut took power and became the Pharaoh of Egypt! She wore the royal garments of a male pharaoh, wore no make-up while in power, and also wore the false beard of a male pharaoh. (We recall that at that time, Egyptian males at clean-shaven faces while pharaohs wore false beards).

Above are the Ossirian statues of Hatshepsut wearing the male garments of a pharaohh and false beard (image source: wikipedia). This is quite telling as we already know that Hatshepsut was being groomed to be Pharaoh from a young age, and that she believes she was connected to both Ra and Hapy. These statues seem to suggest she is connected to the afterlife, as well; that is, she was quite a powerful woman. We briefly recall that all statues at that time (and in most of the ancient world) were actually painted; her face would have had red painted on and her clothes painted as well. As a woman in charge of the largest civilization in the world, one of the impressive things she did was to create the Valley of the Kings, an underground necropolis (city of the dead) where so far archaeologists have found 64 tombs. It was discovered that someone chiseled the name out of Hatshepsut's tomb in order to prevent her from going to the afterlife.

Acts 7:22 tells us that Moses was a brilliant man who partook in mathematics, science, engineering, languages, etc., and was both a great speaker and military commander. He is believed to be associated with the invention of writing, which we infer from the scripts at Mount Sinai. Speaking of Moses, he wore something called the Prince's lock - it is a lock of hair worn on the right side, implying he is next to be Pharaoh. Of course, Thutmoses III also wore a prince's lock. In time, Thutmoses III became one of the greatest generals in history as general of the Egyptian army. He is sometimes referred to as the "Napolean of Ancient Egypt" and Alexander the Great, in fact, looked up to him and Achilles as heroes. Thutmoses III and Alexander were the only in ancient history never to have lost even a battle. Now we get back to Moses. Hebrews 11:24-25 tells us that Moses refuses to be called by the names of the Pharaoh's firstborn and in 1486, he kills an Egyptian, which we recall is very much against the law in Egypt! The other big law being that one must be buried in Egypt. From here, Thutmoses III takes power from Hatshepsu after finding out Moses is Jewish (we don't know how he found out); 2 years later, Hatshepsu dies. Interestingly, Hatshepsut's canopic box, when discovered, had a tooth inside with abcess which helped identify her mummy!

While Acts 7:25 tells us that Moses believed his killing of an Egyptian would have that the Israelites would realize God was using him (Moses) to deliver them, we still find that ikn 1486, Moses flees Egypt and falls extremely far in social status; that is, he goes from being a Prince of Egypt to a sheperd, the latter considered the lowest class imaginable at the time. He had to learn how to survive in the desert (which no doubt prepared him for his future 40 years in the desert). We think Moses didn't actually want to go back to Egypt, he doesn't think of himself as a good speaker, and makes many excuses. He does, however, want to go back to Egypt to help free the Israelites. So, in 1446 BC, that's what he does, while Amenhotep II is pharaoh and knows well of Moses. It is around this time that the biblical plagues began. The first one being the Nile turning to blood. The tenth plague had the death of all Egyptian first-borns unless blood marked one's door - this gives rise to modern day Passover in the Jewish religion. There is strong evidence that this 10th plague in fact killed the son of Pharaoh Amenhotep II as his tomb was recently discovered and was remarkably grandiose for the first-born of a Pharaoh, suggesting a catastrophic/unusual death. After Amenhotep II's son dies, he goes after Moses who then goes across the Red Sea freeing the Israelites. Archaelogical evidence has provided artifacts of human bones, horse hooves, as well as armor at the bottom of the Red Sea; it's curious how those items wound up there.


Reflection on Course Notes from Monday, 16 September 2019.

Using the beliefs of the Egyptian afterlife as a guide, we explored an evidence-based construction of the epic history surrounding the woman Pharaoh Hatshepsut, her adopted son Moses, her first-born Thutmoses III, and their remarkable lives. Hatshepsut herself was distinguished as the first child of Pharaoh Thutmoses I and so called the Daughter of the Pharaoh or the Throne Princess and was quite aware of her intended grandiose future (as a goddess and leader of the largest civilization in the current world) from a very young age. Though not everyone deals with such power very well, Hatshepsut seemed to use her position to have a remarkable influence on Egypt. In fact, I believe she was vastly ahead of her time as it would take countless centuries before even the thought of religious freedom would come to exist for most powerful societies. Around the time of Moses' adoption by Hatshepsut, I found the following paraphrased from Exodus 2:3 rather curious.

"Moses' mother Jochebad, placed him in an ark along the reeds."

Though Moses was Jewish, the Egyptian's A'aru or field of reeds represented their afterlife. Moses himself was found floating in an arc in the Nile, which was viewed as the Egyptian god Hapy. I wonder if Hatshepsut seeing him, possibly floating among the reeds, may have also prompted her to adopt Moses. Perhaps it reminded her of actions' consequences in her own afterlife (a thought which no doubt pervaded all Egyptians as these events happened well into the New Kingdom, when all had access to A'aru); although, receiving him from a god may certainly have been enough motivation. I can only speculate. I found the whole discussion of Hatshepsut's motivation to adopt Moses to be very telling as to how important it is to study religions' views on the afterlife - for centuries, it has influenced many very powerful people who's decisions have shaped and will continue to shape the modern world. As a mathematical physicist in training myself, I naturally find evidence-based information that shapes the world quite fascinating - in particular, the fact that people's views of the afterlife is constantly affecting the world we live in requires no one's belief nor approval. It merely is a natural and large part of the human experience, for better or worse.

Image Source: Milam, Whitney. Hatshepsut: Meet the Female Pharaoh Who Ruled Egypt as a Man, 8 October 2015, https://amysmartgirls.com/hatshepsut-meet-the-female-pharaoh-who-ruled-egypt-as-a-man-953722dcfb73, cited 17 September 2019.




Reflection on Course Notes from Wednesday, 25 September 2019.

The song for today was Unforgettable by Nat King Cole - a song he sang for his daughter, Natalie. Sadly, he passed while his daughter was still a teenager. As a young woman, the pair sang together and we had the pleasure of watching this second music video. The video had a moving camera that started far away with Nat King Cole singing and then moved to his daughter, wearing a prom dress, as she started to sing. She started to remember him as the video went on. The location was in an attic where there were old photos and a television. As the video continued, the graphics quite beautifully flowed from one singer to the other, though the shot seemed to be focus on Natalie's perspective while her father sometimes sung in the background. Then it showed her even watching her father on various television sets, followed by slides of them together in her childhood. The video seemed to cherish aspects of both of their lives suggesting perhaps that they were both unforgettable to one another. There was even an album with pictures shown, showing he will live on to her.

We then discussed the format for the Critical Analysis and Group Paper Essay. The introduction should have a thesis with restrictions - wecan use 4 or 5, but if there are that many, then you should use headings. No quotes in the introduction! Body Paragraph 1 should begin with the first restriction Body Paragraph 1 should begin with the first restriction; it should include information/evidence, a quote followed by an interpretation of about equal length (aim for around 4 lines each). Close body paragraph 1 with re-stating restriction one. If the quote is 4 or more lines, put it in a block and centered. Conclusion should have background, then thesis, followed by 3 restrictions, then re-state the thesis again. No quotes in conclusion, either. For the critical analysis, we should have roughly 3 quotes, and no more. Include a works cited page. Double-space everywhere, and use a 12pt font. Ask the group which civilizations they're doing for their critical analysis essays.

We then returned to the Greco-Roman's views on the afterlife. We recall that people prayed in groups as the gods did some quite terrifying things. Homer was a bard (singer) legendary for his works including he Iliad, Odyssey, and Homeric Hymns. As far as gods/humans feelings against each other, the gods especially disliked mortals who had hubris and would kill their loved ones. In Greek, Cerberus was 'Kerberos'. According to Hesiod, Cerberus was the secon of the four monstrous children of Typhon and Echidna, being born after Orthus, the two-headed hound who guarded the cattle of Geryon, but before the Lernean Hydra and, quite possibly the Chimaera - all of them were multi-headed! There was no uniformity according to scholars on just how many heads Kerberos had. There were only three occasions when Cerberus was tricked by visitors of Hades. Hercales did it with his strength, Orpheus with his music. Hesiod also added that Cerbrus' monstrosity was almost indescribable and was called the brazen-voiced hound of Hades is fifty-headed, relentless and strong. Meanwhile, Pindar says he has 100 heads.

The Egyptians and Greco-Romans both share this non-uniformity, whereas when we will speak about the Jews/Christians, there is much more uniformity.

Hades does no judging in the afterlife; he only rules over it. Epithets for Hades included the Other Zeus, the grisly god, and the host of many, the attractor of man. Original goddess was Gaia. We recalled that Poseidon was god of all water and earthquakes. Hades ssociated with the Nekromanteion, the "Oracle of the Dead". It was a the meeting of the five rivers in the realm of Hades - the Acheron (Joyless), Pyriphlegethon (Flaming with Fire), . There would be a priest there and you could pay to ask where their loved ones are, perhaps costing a sacrifice so as Hades wouldn't hurt them. The acoustics of the Necromanteion were astonishing and allowed the priests' voices to do some mysterious things. Necromancy is indeed talking to the dead, so the name is appropriate. For Hebrews/Christians, communicating with the dead isn't allowed as it's thought people would just be communicating with fallen angels and not actually their loved ones.

The gods possesed many human traits according to Homer such as lust, petulance, jealousy, and dishonesty. As far as lying, Hermes was one of the biggest (Mercury); he was also the patron god of thieves. The most famous of all the oracles was located in Delphi, believed to be the center of the world by the Greeks. People came from all over the world to get their questions answered. It in fact became the first international banking system! This is reasonable since currency was required in order to see the priestess, 'pithia'. There existed a myriad source of omens from birds, entrails, and even the rustling of the leaves. We recall as Greeks sought meaning in life and hope for the afterlife, they were drawn to cults and mystery religions.

In Homer's Odyssey, the slain hero Achilles says the following from the underworld: "I would rather serve as laborer to a serf, to a landless man who has no great livelihood, than rule all the perished dead." We have actually found the city of Troy. It takes Odysseus (Ulysses) 10 years to get back home to Ithaca, the content of the Odyssey. 1260 starts the Trojan War which ends in 1250. In fact, when Alexander goes to Persia, the first place he goes is to get Achilles' golden armour as he was one of his two major heroes. Recall Persephone was the wife of Hades and it was the sunless place where there were just 'shades' and 'shadows'.

Styx, Acheron, Cocytus, Phlegethon, Lethe - Hades' five rivers. Hades was divided into 4 regions - Tartarus (worst people), Elysian Fields, Fields of Mourning (for those who were hurt by love - such as the wives of those who passed in the Trojan War), and the Asphodel Meadows (for the souls of the majority of ordinary people). Though most of what we know about the underworld's geography was by Homer and Virgil, even these visions sometimes conflicted. In a sense, the Aeneid was written by the Roman Aeneid to be a greater piece of literature than the great works of Homer, like the Odyssey which speaks of the afterlife. According to Homer, the Underworld was located beyond the earth-encircling irer of the Ocean, at the far western end of the world. A cavern near the ancient two nof Tenarus is situatied at the tip of the middle promontory of Peloponnese (back then known as Cape Tanaerum, and today called Cape Matapan). Cape Tanaerum picture where Heracles actually dragged Cerberus out! Then, the bottomless Alcyonian Lake at Lerna was where the fearsome Hydra guarded it. Here is where Dionysus entered the Underworld to search for his mother Semele. It's also where Hades abducted his to-b wife Persephone. Get picture of Alcyonian Lake at Lerna, too; beautiful. There was also the volcanic Lake Avernus in southern Italy. This is where Aeneas descends into Hades, put picture of this, too. I wonder how the different views of the afterlife of the Egyptians vs. Greeks had any relationship with the to-be much higher number of laws developed in Greece. Why might fearing the afterlife have an affect of developing a significant legal system.

I asked Dr. Donley about the effects on the legal system after class and he reminded me that the popular Greek democratic system was founded centuries later. Perhaps as the Greeks tended to have a bigger fear of the gods than their Egyptian counterparts, it led them to develop a stronger government at least in some small part; this is just speculation. I shared these thoughts with my old roommate and we had a long discussion about politics which was nice and informative as they know much more about politics than me.




Reflection on Course Notes from Wednesday, 30 September 2019.

Today's lecture involved watching the play, Antigone , written by Sophocles. He was a significant playwright, known for numerous works, including Oedipus Rex . The two sisters are Antigone and Ismene, the brothers Eteocles and Polynices. Polynices is in a sense a traitor for leading an army against his hometown of Thebes and his uncle, the king. Thebes wins, but the brothers kill each other in this war. Eteocles is from Thebes, and him and his brother, the traitor, killed each other. This is the setting that starts us for the play. In particular, we look out for Sophocles teaching us about the Greek concept of the afterlife. The play starts with putting up a large picture as a tribute to Crayon (brother of the fallen king Oedipus), the to-be king. Something bad has happened with respect to the afterlife. The chorus doubles as the government of the time who provides background information throughout the play. The palace area is a re-creation of the standard circle where Greek plays take place.

The play starts with a distressed Antigone looking for her sister, Ismene. She's worried about all the people she loves - indicating a result of hubris and the punishment of the gods. She is worried about being overheard by others - that one brother will be buried with full honors, and the other with none - left to rot on the battlefield. Antigone seeks her sister's aid to go against the rule of the king - by pain of stoning to death - in order to bury her brother. Ismene, however, thinks they should follow the king's rule. Antigone remains headstrong, regardlesss of the law in place, and there is a large discussion on the status of men and women in the current day. Antigone finds her headstrong way to be the only honorable choice and seems to think that failing to bury her brother perhaps might have consequences in her own afterlife. The chorus tells of how the gods punished the brother's hubris and have caused his loved ones to suffer as a consequence. They then talk about the victory of Thebes in winning the battle as the king Crayon, the new king, enters to take his throne. We then first see the chorus doubling as the government as the new king has called the senators to a meeting. He reassures them that the state is his first priority, over his friends and loved ones.

Thus Sophocles shows us both sides of the issue - Antigone having her way and Crayon having his - in order to setup a conflict to come. Someone nervously enters the room letting Crayon know he discovered that the traitor's body was buried. Crayon immediately assumes someone is bribing a cohort into breaking his laws - this seems a bit rash for his first act as king - it shows us again how important his concern for the afterlife is, as well. Crayon goes so far as to accuse the messenger as being involved in the burial. It ends with a threat to the messenger that he must find the conspirator(s) upon pain of public humiliation and possibly death. The messenger returns with Antigone as a prisoner, though the king does immediately realize the implications her burying the body may have on himself. She remains honest and headstrong and confesses to Crayon, face-to-face. For she believes that the laws of the gods are everlasting, and the temporary law/arrogance of Crayon should make her disobey the truelaw. Crayon takes this as an insult. The moral argument Sophocles is that of the ability to recognize common decency - love towards family. In comes Antigone's sister as Crayon suspects she was involved, though we no from the start that she refused to play a part

Then, Ismene shockingly comes to her sister's protection, despite that she was not involved. So, we have a growing notion of the unconditional love of family and the unconditional respect of the proper way to help them get into the afterlife. With hubris causing the conflict already, perhaps the sisters believe that if they obey Crayon's own views - which they may consider hubris - then more misfortune may befall them. In comes the prince 'Heyman' who is to marry Antigone. Though initially Heyman reassures his father, the king, of his unshaking loyalty, surely Heyman must bring some uncertainty with him. Sophocles' inclusion of Heyman offers a voice to his father which he would listen to moreso than any of his advisors. Although Crayon proclaims that his rule should be distinct from family and kinship, his son's opinion clearly has an effect. In particular, Heyman tells his father that he should follow his wisdom and not anger. It is a subtle suggestion which a senator even suggests. He makes the point that it is Creon's law, not the state's, and that if we follow only one person's law, we lose the concept of state. It was pointed out that 500 years after Antigone was written by Sophocles (in 441 BC) that democracy comes to be in ancient Greece. This conversation foreshadows the coming government in a sense.

Though, unfortunately, power corrupts and Crayon is unwilling to listen to moral reason, instead too in love with his new kingship. Crayon's anger and hubris finally shines through in the conversation with his son. Upon the king's threat to kill Antigone in front of her fiance, Heyman leaves. The king then decides to only kill Antigone but to wall up her sister in a cave with enough food only to avoid guilt. Perhaps Creon himself knows he is wrong on some level and fears the consequences of hubris; this is interesting as the whole play, itself, can be viewed as the consequences of hubris.


Reflection on Course Notes from Wednesday, 2 October 2019.

We returned to watching Antigone in today's lecture. Immediately, after her condemnation, she expresses how there is no love waiting for her in the afterlife. The senators try to offer her solace. She compares herself to the tormented story of a goddess, but the senators think the comparison is too extreme. She takes it as an enormous insult; this is reasonable as she must be fragile with her fate already having been sealed. She says she'll see her mother in the place of the shades. We recall that at that time, it was expected of women to give offspring; the senators have offer no support to her on these accounts. After Creon enters, she pleads with the senators/chorus again that no offspring are to come and tries to get them to understand her perspective, to no avail. The chorus speaks to the audience and seem to, in their way, support Antigone. Tyrisious, a blind man, and his son enter; Sophocles brings him in as another voice Creon values. He is a blind seer who foretells an omen coming from Creon's treatment of Polyneices. The oracle has helped Creon before and is quite brutal in telling Creon how he will suffer. Creon is finally listening at which point the senate tells him to completely withdraw from his actions - freeing Antigone and giving Polyneices a proper burial. Creon finally goes off to release Antigone and the chorus says a prayer to the gods, likely to try and stave off the foretol isaster.

It seems to have taken external advice to get through to Creon, as those commonly close to him and his kin had no affect on him - this is ironic as he previously said those close to him ought to have no affect on the state. They clearly did. We then learn that the king's son, who previously tried to offer him advice, has now died. Euridyce, his mother and the wife of Creon, learns of this and enters wanting to know what really happened. One with Creon tells how they first buried Polyneices and then, walking up to free Antigone, they hear Creon's son's voice inside. They found Antigone hanging and dead while her fiance was sitting next to her. The son spat on his father and drew his sword, which he then used to kill himself as he took a last grasp of his fiance, Antigone. They ended up together afterall, to the horror of Creon. The queen holds her tongue and simply leaves the room - no doubt, the story is extreme for anyone, let alone the mother of a fallen son.

Creon enters again with his fallen son and is entirely broken. As if that wasn't enough, he then finds his wife dead, also. The queen blamed Creon for each death and, having been told this, Creon accepts the guilt. Creon seems to do all things in extreme - seeming without any experience of much hardships in his own life. Being in this position sure gave him a ridiculous amount of hardships, but seemingly too late in life. For even if he learns from his actions at this point, all those dearest to him have already faded away. Creon wanted the law of the state to be free of family influence, mostly surrounded with the same people - family or senators (kind of yes men); as soon as an external perspective he breaks. We noted how the play ended with Creon hunched over, not kingly looking at all, sitting in his throne. We later will discuss the condemnation of Socrates and how it's related to Antigones - in particular, Socrates refused to escape pain of death. So we learn that Sophocles is teaching us to avoid hubris, because if you have it you will be very sorry. We emphasized that the law this play is so concerned with was of Creon's own making; it was not one of Thebes.


Reflection on Course Notes from Monday, 7 October 2019.

We started the lecture with a mental warmup, watching the Trolley Song from Meet Me in St. Louis, sung by Judy Garland. She starts looking for her love interest, Johnny, while on the trolley. The movie was set in the year 1900. She sang as the trolley itself was being shaken. This is rare even today and showcased her great talent as a triple threat.

We then started back our afterlife discussion with Mt. Olympus which has many peaks - the summit of which was Mytikas, where the gods lived. We continued on with a review of the gods/goddesses. According to Hesiod, Typhon is the father of all monsters - the son of whom was kerberos. Echidna was the mother of all monsters. Typhon is both a god and a monster which is very rare; he is often described as the most powerful and fearsome god in Greek myth. In particular, he was a giant who's head touched the stars. He had the torso of a man, legs of coils of vipers. His main head had on it 100 snakeheads who would make different sounds of animals. His eyes glowed red and had a savage jaw which would breathe fire. His boy had hundreds of different wings. He is an example of an ancient fire-breathing dragon.

We reviewed that although the gods' despised humans with hubris, they too very much had it along with a number of bad moods. We also reviewed that odern Cape Tanaerum is where Heracles went down into the underworld and grabbed Kerberos, one of many entrances. Tartarus was the worst place, far beneath Hades. In fact the new testament written in koine, also borrowed the word tartarus although the meaning was vastly different. Tartarus held the Cyclopes and Hecatoncheires. Basically it was home to the worst of the worst. Some famous inhabitants inluded Sisyphus, Tantalus, Ixion, and Tityos. The Fields of Mourning from Aeneid were reserved for the souls of those whom ruthless love did waste away. Almost all of the fields' inhabitants mentioned by Virgil were women, including Phaedra and notably Dido. This suggests the role of women in those times was far worse than it is now. The Asphodel Meadows portion of Hades may have been a realm of utter neutrality, though we know that here Odysseus meets the shade of Achilles in Homer's Odyssey. While the Egyptians carried on doing what they were doing in life, the Greeks had a total lack of it, as we recall from Sophocles' Antigone who also spoke of these shades. The Elysian Fields was ruled either by Rhadamanthus or Cronus (or both) - texts disagree. It was a land of eternal sunlight and rosy meadows. Only the most exceptional mortals were privileged with a life here that was free of toils and pain. We recall that Rhadamanthus was one of the judges in the afterlife.

Thanatos (the embodiment of death) was the god of non-violent death who would reach down and cut a lock of hair from your head as you died. We are told his touch was gentle and had a twin brother Hypnos (the god of sleep). Violent death on the other hand was the domain of Thanatos' blood-craving sisters, the Keres, the spirits of slaughter and disease. Then, Hermes the messenger of the gods, would lead you to the entrance of the underworld where a ferry awaited to carry it across either the Acheron or the river Styx. The ferry was rowed by Charon (the moon of Pluto) and it was his job to take you to Underworld proper. He required a fare of coins (obols) placed on the eyes and under the tongue when buried. In fact, Aeneas was only able to go into Hades once his guide Sybil showed Charon a golden bough, Aeneas' gift for Persephone. So, in summary, Thanatos takes you gently, Hermes transports you, and then Charon takes you to Hades proper.

For the Greeks, if your body had been buried, then Charon the ferryman, trannsported you across the river. This explains why Antigone was so upset; her brother had no way of entrance into the afterlife. On the bank of the river, one encounters Kerberos. Once Charon ferries the souls to the other side; the newly dead are at the mercy of the three judges Minos, Rhadamanthus, and Aeacus. They decide the fate of the souls and send them to one of three places. For the Greeks and Egyptians, where one goes in the afterlife depends on what they had done in their life. Minos, we recall, was the first king of the Minoans who built the maze and had the famour minotaur, eventually killed by Thesus. Most souls seemed to end up in the neutral zone, the Asphodel Meadows. If chosen for Elysium, the souls first are taken to the river Lethe in order to forget about their entire lives and commence a restful, 'stress-free' afterlife. In Tartarus on the other hand, it featured Tantalus standing near a table covered with delicious food, but was never able to reach it. Then, Sisyphus destined to push a rock up a hill over and over. These represent the torment of Tartarus. Ritual burials in Greece involve washing of the body and placing coins for the ferry-man. In particular, when Greeks conquered Egypts, they even adopted the Egyptian act of mummification.

Tombs and gravestones had heads of Gorgons carved on the tomb doors to ward off evil. Valuable objects, jewlery, and coins were also included in Greek burials even though they couldn't be used by the deceased, unlike the Egypitans. The Greeks were the ones who started visiting their loved ones' tombs periodically and decorating them. Heroes including Heracles, Thesus, Orpheus, and Odysseus descended to Hades and returned successfully. The journey there was known as katabasis. Heracles' main confrontation with death comes in his 12th labor, where he had a katabasisto capture kerberos and bring him back from Hades. Hercules was the Roman name and was the greatest hero of Greek mythology. He was the son of Zeus, making him a demi-god. Zeus' queen Hera was in fact jealous of Heracles, and when he was an infant she sent two snakes to kill him in his crib. Heracles was found having strangled a serpent in each hand, making baby noises. Once Heracles had already come to age being a great marksmen, wrestler, and posessor superhuman strength, he was driven mad by Hera. In a frenzy, he killed his own children (driven by Hera). To attone for his crime, he was sent to perform a series of Labors for his cousin Eurystheus, the king of Tiryns and Mycenae. By rights, Heracles should have been king himself, but Hera tricked eus into crowning Eurystheus instead. In short, Hera is involved in everything in Hercules' life. We recall that along with Jason, Heracles was also an argonaut. In his final labor, he went down to capture Kerberos - the first barrier to the journey was the famous river Styx.


Reflection on Course Notes from Monday, 9 October 2019.

The singer for today's mental warmup is Howard Keel. The song, Bless your Beautiful Hide, in the movie Seven Bridges for Seven Brothers, produced in 1954. The context of the movie is set in the 1800's. This song in particular involves the singer looking for a wife. He's a bass/baritone with a very full voice and good vibrato control. The movie itself has the longest dance scene ever filmed.

After the mental warmup today, we broke up into groups and started discussing our research papers. My group wanted to work on contrasting the Greeks and Egyptians as far as the journey to each of their respective afterlives and the big figures souls would see along the way. I was very pleased with this topic and enjoyed the class time today, even though we didn't cover any new material.








Supplementary Documents.