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There are probably as many views on death as there are civilizations; even within one civilization views may shift from one century to another, as is exemplified by ancient Greece. This has been observed in our own era as well: previously death seemed to be banned to sterile hospital beds and funeral homes, nowadays dying tends to become more 'social' and comes into the open again. On the whole, a renewed interest in death is noticeable, and the present book is an expression of that trend.
This volume of essays grew out of a symposium held in December 1992 at the University of Amsterdam and organized by the Institute for Mediterranean Studies. They are arranged in four sections, viz. general, literary, philosophical and archaeological. After four general articles concerning the views on death and immortality held in Ancient Egypt, Hittite Anatolia, Homeric and Classical Greece, and Israel in Biblical times, some of the cultures not yet represented are dealt with in the other sections: Rome and Italy in the literary and archaeological sections, and the Arabic-Islamic world in the literary and philosophical sections. All papers conclude with bibliographies and there is a subject index to the book as a whole.
Although representing only some of the many cultures once bordering the Mediterranean, the contributions do reflect the wide variety of ideas on death and immortality to be found in that area. As such, this book is of interest not only to specialists in the various fields treated here, but also to historians and students of comparative religion and literature, as well as to the general academic reader.
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