Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/509

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ANCIENT AND MODERN IDEAS OF HELL.

ter xxii). Those men who are sent to the left hand on the judgment-day "shall dwell amid burning winds and scalding water, under the shade of a black smoke, neither cool nor agreeable." Ye "shall surely eat of the fruit of the tree of al-Zakhum[1] and shall fill your bellies therewith; and ye shall drink there only boiling water."

In the Greek mythology, which was copied by the Romans, the place of future punishment is called Tartarus. The universe is represented in the poetry of Homer and Hesiod as a hollow globe, divided by the flat earth. In the top of the upper hemisphere was Olympus, the home of the gods; in the hemisphere beneath the earth was hades, the abode of all the dead; and in its lowest depths was Tartarus. An anvil would be nine days and nights in falling from Olympus to the earth; nine days and nights from the earth to the bottom of Tartarus. "Around it, moreover, a brazen fence has been forged; and about it Night is poured in three rows."[2] In Tartarus there is darkness, and the air has no motion. It was at this time regarded as the place of punishment for the Titans, who had rebelled against the powers of Olympus. Later the poets began to speak of mortals who had offended the gods, or had been unjust to their fellow-men, being sent there after death. Prometheus, who was guilty of overreaching Zeus, was punished by being chained to a rock, part of the time on earth and part in Tartarus. An eagle devoured his liver every day, and it was renewed every night.[3] Ixion, who had been treacherous to Zeus, was chained by the hands and feet to a wheel, which is described as winged or fiery, and said to have rolled perpetually in the air. He is further said to have been scourged and compelled to exclaim, "Benefactors should be honored."[3]

Sisyphus is represented by different authors as guilty of treachery of various kinds. "His wickedness during life was severely punished in the lower world, where he had to roll up hill a huge marble block, which, as soon as it reached the top, always rolled down again."[3] Tantalus was a wealthy king, who divulged the secrets of Zeus. "The gods punished him by placing him in the nether world in the midst of a lake, but rendering it impossible for him to drink when he was thirsty, the water always withdrawing when he stooped. Branches laden with fruit, moreover, hung over his head, but when he stretched out his hand to reach the fruit the branches withdrew. Over his head there was suspended a huge rock, ever threatening to crush him."[3] The Danaides, or fifty daughters of Danaus, all but one of whom in


  1. A thorny tree with a fruit like an almond, but extremely bitter (Sale).
  2. Hesiod, Theogony.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.