Hey look at that! It’s afterlife week at Happle Tea! Exploring all the possibilities (well, two possibilities) of life after death. How thrillingly eerie!
There’s something funny about the human mind. No, it’s not just that the container it’s housed in is shaped like some weird exotic fruit. It’s funny that creatures so capable of visualizing things that don’t exist tend to think very closely to what they already know. The concept of life after death, for example, is full of limitless possibilities, yet cultures for thousands of years have made it out to be a relatively bland sort of adventure. Everything is quite close to what we experience in our daily lives, just with a few small improvements. You still have a body, but you don’t get sick and you get to go back to being in your mid 20’s. That’s not a very radical departure from what we already know. I guess what I’m saying is that if religions could come up with something better than hanging out on clouds, I might be more interested.
As for me, when I die, I want to go to a place that makes absolutely no sense. I want to be able experience colour as a sound and interpret space in ways I can’t possibly imagine. Yeah. That sounds awesome. Maybe we could throw in a little bit of reality as well. Reality like…dinosaurs. Let’s just throw some weird pan-dimensional dinosaurs in there too!
The Ancient Greeks, like nearly everyone else, came to the conclusion that when we die, we don’t simply cease to exist, we end up in some kind of underworld. Their underworld was a product of their experience, by and large, and many of the things they dealt with on a daily basis could be found there. The Greeks set out with an underworld where everyone was equal in death, all going to the same rather dismal place no matter what, but later came to the conclusion that all souls were judged upon arrival. In the judgment version, good souls were rewarded and others were punished. Maybe you’re noticing how common this concept has been throughout history.
Anyway, this is all the least interesting part of it to me, at least. It gets interesting when you consider Charon, the ferryman. The Ancient Greeks believed that the realm of the dead was separated by rivers into various sections and that it was a place that you could actually get to from the land of the living. To cross to the underworld-proper required the soul to cross the river Styx (or the river Archeron, depending on what you read) and to cross the river required the assistance of the underworld’s first and only ferryman, Charon. Charon charged every passenger one (left for the dead in their mouth) or two (left on the eyes of the deceased) coins for the crossing.
It’s sort of sad and funny at the same time to consider that guy’s lot in the grand scheme of things. While Charon is an important figure in the the mythology of Ancient Greece, he has no stories of his own and no true mythology about his origins or personality. He’s just there, ferrying people across the river eternally for a coin or two. Not a lot of money, but I suppose there’s job security and steady hours, right?
To me, it almost seems like a punishment. To be stuck piloting a boat forever with irritating souls who would, undoubtedly, question you every chance they got would be a unique kind of hell. I mean, who needs job security and steady income when your only task is to ferry idiots day in and day out?
I guess that’s why a fella needs hobbies. You know, something to do to unwind, take your mind off the work…
‘Cause everyone’s gotta take a break some time.