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Terracotta funerary plaque, ~520 BCE. It was custom for women to wail and lament over a dead body, illustrating that despite the idea that the soul would exist in an afterlife, death was still painful for the living. Women also washed and oiled the body to prepare it for burial or cremation.


Quote from Thucydides from his funeral oration for Pericles, 399 BCE (right around when Socrates died!). Both Thucydides and Socrates believed that the afterlife was a peaceful place for those who lived a good life, so the dead had nothing to fear.


Image on a terracotta oil flask, 450 BCE. Depicts Charon rows his boat that transports souls from the land of the living to the land of the dead. Hermes holds a staff and is ushering someone (not seen) onto the boat. This illustrates that Greek mourners believed the soul's journey to be long and difficult, which explains why they often left offerings to help their loved ones reach the afterlife.

This river represents the rivers souls crossed over before reaching the land of the dead. I also like that it looks like veins, though, which connects to Socrates's myth description of the afterlife in Phaedo that relies heavily on bodily imagery.

In Apology and Phaedo, Socrates mentions that he would not mind dying because his soul could converse with famous heros, so he could continue to practice philosophy. These constellations represent those heros: Orion for Orion of course, and the Lyra for Orpheus, who Socrates specifically mentions (Apology 41A).

From left to right:

  • the Funerary Stele for Onatorides, an example of the Greeks commemorating their dead, 350 BCE.
  • a mixing bowl portraying two figures standing in a tomb, 340 BCE.
  • flames, because the Greeks sometimes cremated their dead.
  • a bathwater container portraying a woman standing inside a tomb, 340 BCE.
The three art pieces pictured in this row are photos I took during our visit to the Art Institute. The bowl and bathwater container were likely left inside tombs, exemplifying how the Greeks left objects for the dead to aid their souls in their journeys.

This line symbolizes the journey of the soul after death. The Ancient Greeks generally believed that the soul left the body as a breath, which is why the line begins at the body's mouth. The line then travels upward, representing its progression toward the immaterial realm.