Template:RefimproveTemplate:Greek myth (Hades) The Asphodel Meadows is a section of the Ancient Greek underworld where indifferent and ordinary souls were sent to live after death. Hades, the Greek name for the underworld (also the name of the Greek god of the Underworld, synonymous with the Roman God Pluto) is divided into two main sections: Erebus and Tartarus. Erebus was where the dead first entered the underworld. Charon ferried the dead across the river Styx where they then went into Tartarus. Tartarus is the section of the underworld where the dead would spend all of eternity in the place where judgment would order them. Tartarus is then divided into three subsections: the Elysian Fields, the Asphodel Meadows, and Tartarus. The Elysian Fields were for the good and heroic souls where they would be forever happy. Tartarus was where the evil and treacherous souls were sent to live out eternity in horrible punishment. The name comes from the asphodel flower which is ghostly and pale, like the pale copy of a world that asphodel is.
The Asphodel Meadows is where the souls of people who lived lives of near equal good and evil rested. It essentially was a plain of Asphodel flowers, which were the favorite food of the Greek dead. It is described as a ghostly place that is an even less perfect version of life on earth. Some depictions describe it as a land of utter neutrality. That is, while the people are neither good nor evil, so are their lives treated, as they mechanically perform their daily tasks. Other depictions have also stated that all residents drink from the river Lethe before entering the fields, thus losing their identities and becoming something similar to a machine. This somewhat negative outlook on the afterlife for those who make little impact was probably passed down to encourage militarism in Greek cultures as opposed to inaction. In fact, those who did take up arms were believed to be rewarded with everlasting joy in the fields of Elysium.
The Oxford English Dictionary gives Homer as the source for the English poetic tradition of describing the Elysian meadows as being covered in asphodel. In the translation by W. H. D. Rouse, the passage in question (from The Odyssey, Book XI) is rendered "the ghost of clean-heeled Achilles marched away with long steps over the meadow of asphodel." In Book XXIV in the same translation, the souls of the dead "came to the meadow of asphodel where abide the souls and phantoms of those whose work is done." Homer describes the experience of the dead souls and relates the meadow to its surroundings in these books and in Circe's brief description at the end of Book X. Edith Hamilton suggests that the asphodel of these fields are not exactly like the asphodel of our world but are "presumably strange, pallid, ghostly flowers."
- ↑ W.H.D. Rouse, trans. The Odyssey: The Story of Odysseus. New York: The New American Library, 1949.
- ↑ Edith Hamilton. Mythology. New York: Warner Books, 1999. Ch. 1, p. 40.