The logo of the Melammu Project

The Melammu Project

The Heritage of Mesopotamia and the Ancient Near East

  The Melammu Project
   General description
   Search string
   Browse by topic
   Search keyword
   Submit entry
   Open search
   Thematic search
   Digital Library
   Submit item
   Ancient texts
   Submit link
  Contact us

  The Newsletter
  To Project Information >


Ascent of the soul (2)

Printable view
Topics (move over topic to see place in topic list)

03 Religious festivals, cults, rituals and practices

01 Religious and ideological doctrines and imagery

01 Religious and ideological doctrines and imagery

03 Religious festivals, cults, rituals and practices

Roman Empire
Greek inscriptions
Roman inscriptions

According to a Platonic belief, the souls of those who have deserved immortality will not descend to the depths of the earth, they will rise again to the starry spheres. A number of inscriptions attest the extent to which this belief had spread by the first century before our era. There are very many examples to quote. Thus an epitaph on a girl thirteen years old discovered in the island of Thasos says: “In this tomb lies the body of a young maiden, flower-bearer (anthophoros) of Ceres, carried off by the merciless Fates. But her soul by the good-will of the Immortals dwells among the stars and takes its place in the sacred choir of the blest” (Epigraphica Graeca, 324 (Kaibel)). There is a Latin epitaph, one among many of the same kind: “My divine soul shall not descend to the shades; heaven and the stars have borne me away; earth holds my body, and this stone an empty name” (Büchler, Carmina Epigraphica 611). Epigraphy proves that these ideas of a future life became gradually prevalent. They were more and more generally accepted under the Roman Empire in proportion as Oriental religions acquired more authority, and in the last days of paganism they exerted a preponderating influence.

Sources (list of abbreviations)
Carmina Epigraphica 611 (Büchler)
Epigraphica Graeca 324 (Kaibel)


Cumont 1912, 178-179Cumont, Franz. Astrology and Religion among the Greeks and Romans. American Lectures on the History of Religions 8. New York, London: G. P. Putnam's Sons 1912.

Links (external links will open in a new browser window)
Cf. Ascent of the soul (1)
Cf. Ascent of the soul (3)

Amar Annus

URL for this entry:

No pictures