Through Fire, through Poetry
Fashioning Immortality in Greece and Ancient India.
Talk given on occasion of the Symposium Indo-European Afterlife, Swedish Collegium of Advanced Studies, Uppsala, 30.03.2023
Abstract: In my talk, I focus on Greek and Vedic traditions concerning different ways of immortalization. In a variety of contexts, we are able to recover a link between processes of immortalization in the world of the livings, involving celebration through poetry and the consequent achievement of ‘unperishable glory’, and beliefs concerning ways to reach immortality in the afterlife. From the analysis of several ancient sources (both Indo-European and non-Indo-European), immortality seems to be achievable by dying in the fire. In this connection, it might be also significant that in both the Greek and the Vedic tradition, psychopompoi-deities are associated with the element fire. Finally, myths of death&rebirth/rejuvenation/immortalization are occasionally connected to characters who can create solid objects (also from manipulating fire) and poetry, e.g., the Old Indic divine craftsmen, the R̥bhus.