DEATH NOTICES, III
VIII. THE RIVER LETHE: ('Forgetfulness')Spirits are required to drink from the stream of forgetfulness, so that they lose their memories of the world of the living. This produces an entity which is (in modern physiological terms) something like a patient with Alzheimer's disease, who cannote remember what has been said moments or seconds earlier. The souls live entirely in the `present', with no thought of past or future.
The image of `forgetfulness' in the ORPHIC CULT (see HANDOUT) is that of `a spring on the left of the Halls of Hades, and beside it a white cypress growing'. This is the Orphic equivalent, which takes away the memory that the deceased is actually `...the Child of Ge and of starry OURANOS...',`...a GOD instead of a mortal...who comes...to noble PERSEPHONE, that she may be kind and send me to the seats of the Pure...'
IX. THE PALACE OF HADES:abode of Hades, Persephone, the Furies, and others. It is visited by Heracles, Orpheus, Theseus and Perithoos in heroic adventures, even though they are alive. It is the goal of the Orphic initiate.
X. THE FIELDS OF ASPHODELa murky gloomy plain, covered with these gray plants which produce dead-white or pale yellow flowers with no dramatic scent. Virtually all the dead go to the Field(s) of Asphodel. The exception is HEROES, who
XI. THE ELYSIAN FIELDS:an exclusive suburb of the Underworld, still presided over by Hades and Persephone, but reserved for the Hesiodic 'Fourth Generation', the HEROES (offspring of a god and a human). Even at best, however, it is gloomy. ACHILLES (in Homer's Odyssey, Book 11) says he would prefer to be a slave of the poorest dirt farmer in Boeotia rather than be King of the Underworld. In the Elysian Fields there are athletic contests and heroic banquets, distinguishing the place from the FIELDS OF ASPHODEL.
XII. TARTARUS:a prison area below the `House of Hades', presided over by KRONOS (Zeus' father and predecessor) who is as much a prisoner there as anyone else (In some versions, Kronos is released and returned to Olympos, like Prometheus). The place is guarded by the Hundred-handed Giants. Humans who are guilty of special crimes against the gods and their code are sent here for eternal punishment:
-D. Kurtz & J. Boardman, Greek Burial Customs (Cornell 1978).
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John Paul Adams, CSUN