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Title: Roman Concepts of the Afterlife in the Late Republic and Early Principate
Contributor(s): Wormell, Anthony (author); Horsley, Gregory (supervisor); STANTON, Gregory (supervisor); Tesoriero, Charles Anthony (supervisor)
Conferred Date: 2008
Copyright Date: 2005
Open Access: Yes
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Abstract: The topic has not been covered in detail since Cumont's book of 1922. This thesis covers the proportion of Roman paganism from 100BCE to 14CE. The sources of contemporary information are the writings of educated, and presumably wealthy, Romans, and such epitaphs and funerary inscriptions as have survived weather and (other destructive effects. There was no theologian. The nearest would be philosophers, but relevant writings of only two have survived. Three major philosophical systems existed, all derived from Greece. Epicureans held that there was no afterlife, Stoics that there was, and Academicians that there probably was but this could not be proved. Lucretius wrote a long poem to commend Epicureanism under which, since death was final, there could be no posthumous punishment or reward. Cicero covered all three systems in detail later writings, purporting to be an Academician, finally to Stoicism. The other writers who considered death were poets, but we do not know whether any of them believed what they wrote. It was essentially written as literature and should be judged as such. All except one seem to have believed that there was a life of some sort after death, and they either followed some part of Book 6 of the Aeneid of Virgil or used the same sources. There are many epitaphs and inscriptions, but most are purely biographical. Only a small proportion give any hint about an afterlife. This thesis has extracted some which directly or implicitly support or deny its existence. It is not possible to make a meaningful statistical study since we do not know what proportion of original epitaphs have survived. The study has shown that there was no one concept which expresses the Roman view of the afterlife. Homer's gloomy picture would have been well known since his works were the basis of Roman education. How far the philosophers' ideas penetrated the thought of the majority of Romans impossible to determine, but the prospect of evil punished and virtue rewarded must have been attractive.
Publication Type: Thesis Doctoral
Rights Statement: Copyright 2005 - Anthony Wormell
HERDC Category Description: T2 Thesis - Doctorate by Research
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