The most important single religious document from the Augustan Age is the sixth book of Virgil's Aeneid; for although the Aeneid was written primarily to glorify Roman imperial aims, the sixth book gives full expression to many philosophic and popular ideas of the other world and of the future life, which were current among both Greeks and Romans. In this book, as you will remember, the poet's hero, having reached Italian soil at last, is led down to the lower world by the Cumaean Sybil. This descent to Hades belongs historically to that long series of apocalyptic writings which begins with the eleventh book of the Odyssey and closes with Dante's Divine Comedy. Warde Fowler deserves credit for clearly pointing out that this visit of Aeneas to the world below is the final ordeal for him, a mystic initiation, in which he receives " enlightenment for the toil, peril, and triumph that await him in the accomplishment of his divine mission." When the Trojan hero has learned from his father's shade the mysteries of life and death, and has been taught the magnitude of the work which lies before him, and the great things that are to be, he casts off the timidity which he has hitherto shown and, strengthened by his experiences, advances to the perfect accomplishment of his task.

 

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Pagan Ideas of Immortality During the Early Roman Empire - CH Moore 1918

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