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Published in: Journal Of Hellenic Religion, , Vol. 3, 39-52.


Few issues elicit more passion and fear then the topics of death and the afterlife. Death was well known in both Sparta and Rome. It was something they dealt with in large quantities from war, famine, disease, etc. The afterlife, however, was not as well known. Beliefs on the afterlife range far and wide from that of nothingness to a continuous life of pleasure and the full range in between. This paper will look at the polytheism of the ancient Spartan and ancient Roman cultures. Specifically, this paper will look at the background of Spartan and Roman history, their Gods, and their beliefs regarding death and the afterlife.

Research for a paper of this nature forces the author to investigate many sources from many different time periods in order to ensure as much authenticity as possible. The history of both Sparta and Rome is long and plentiful. Both cultures were saturated with a religious devotion that at times could put a monotheist religion to shame. They were both passionate about their cities, culture and religion to the extreme. This passion was both a catalyst for their success and a detriment that spurred the powerful pride that ended in their demise.

Sparta, chronologically beginning prior to the establishment of the city of Rome, will be analyzed first. Students of the study of Sparta are compelled to have knowledge of Spartan history before a study of their religious beliefs can be undertaken. It is imperative because their religious beliefs must be placed within proper perspective to their culture in order to truly understand the passion that was elicited in their religious beliefs and rituals.

Keywords: roman-cultures,religious-devotion,city-of-rome,continuous-life,proper-perspective,time-periods,polytheism,roman-history,religious-beliefs,different-time,nothingness,sparta,detriment,famine,demise,rituals,authenticity,catalyst,quantities,shame

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