Death in the Greek world
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In Greek mythology, the underworld, ruled by Hades incarnate, is separate from the living world. A brother of Zeus and Poseidon, the son of Cronus and Rhea, Hades is used to describe the shadowy realm of the dead but also the power that prevails. The god Hades shares his throne with Persephone, daughter of Zeus and Demeter,and abducted from the living world. This subterranean world is seen as terrible; it houses the worst creatures like the famous Cerberus, three-headed dog, the guardian of the gate of hell. In Greek society, religion is inseparable from the rest of human activities. Death is ritualized; a number of gestures are made, so that at the time of the ritual, the world of the gods and man are united. Inspired by the myths, death is a passage in Greek culture, from the living world dominated by Zeus, to the terrible and invisible realm of the dead where Hades is the master. But apart from these mythological considerations, the sixth and fifth century BC were marked by the strengthening of a "spirit of City", in which the individual must be dedicated to his city. Instead of the individual being a part of the city and changing with it, the funeral rites were viewed as family ceremonies ousting the entity from the city. The many laws (nomoi) on funerals are also a rich reference source for historians, such as the law of Julis in the late fifth century, or that attributed to Solon dating from before 6 AD. Solon, apart from the the pomp associated with the funeral, was responsible for the abolition of slavery for debt,and in effect, laid the first steps for democratic Athens. Sources that are not legislative, and representations of death, are also present on lekythoi as those presented in the series of documents dating from the fifth century BC. Of these sources, the following question emerges: to what extent does the evolution of Greek society alter the meaning of the religious rites that accompany death? Does the legislative process for the funeral necessarily involve a distortion of the funeral ritual?