Ancient Greek People Believe In An Underworld

by Vindia Robinson age, 11

In ancient Greece, the human lifespan was about half of what ours is today.

People in ancient Greece believed spirits went to the underworld after death. During this time period, death was an everyday occurrence; men were killed in battle, women died during childbirth, and children would often die in infancy. The dead were cremated or buried. Greeks believed that after a body or its ashes were covered with earth, spirits could leave to the underworld.

The average person was believed to go to the underworld, while only very few exceptional people were thought to go to Isles of the Blessed. In the Isles of the Blessed, one could spend time enjoying sports and music. Or the dead might go to Mount Olympus, where those who led very extraordinary lives became gods.

Often, people were buried with food and possessions to use in the afterlife. The Greeks left food with the dead, so the souls could never get hungry. Some favorite things to leave with the dead were wine, eggs, armor, pets, or even slaves.

Some graves were marked with a type of pottery called lekythoi. Lekythoi is a kind of pot filled with scented oil; it was used to anoint the body before burial. Images were also painted on the lekythoi for the dead.

We might live longer than the ancient Greeks, but our culture views death with a similar reverence.

[Source: The Encyclopedia of the Ancient World]