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immortality,

attribute of deathlessness ascribed to the soul in many religions and philosophies. Forthright belief in immortality of the body is rare. Immortality of the soul is a cardinal tenet of Islam and is held generally in Judaism, although it is not an essentially Jewish idea. The ancient Greeks and Romans believed in an afterlife, in which the souls of men lived on, but generally only the gods were considered truly immortal. The ancient Celts believed firmly in immortality. In the East, ZoroastrianismZoroastrianism
, religion founded by Zoroaster, but with many later accretions. Scriptures

Zoroastrianism's scriptures are the Avesta or the Zend Avesta [Pahlavi avesta=law, zend=commentary].
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 posited immortality. The religions arising in India (Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism) generally consider individual immortality undesirable and believe in reincarnationreincarnation
[Lat.,=taking on flesh again], occupation by the soul of a new body after the death of the former body. Beliefs vary as to whether the soul assumes the new body immediately or only after an interval of disembodiment.
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 of men as a chain eventually leading to reunion with the infinite (Nirvana). Christianity teaches the resurrectionresurrection
[Lat.,=rising again], arising again from death to life. The emergence of Jesus from the tomb to live on earth again for 40 days as told in the Gospels has been from the beginning the central fact of Christian experience and a cardinal feature of Christian doctrine
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 of the body (in the sense of survival of personality) as well as immortality of the soul. See spiritismspiritism
or spiritualism,
belief that the human personality continues to exist after death and can communicate with the living through the agency of a medium or psychic.
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; heavenheaven,
blissful upper realm or state entered after death; in Western monotheistic religions it is the place where the just see God face to face (sometimes called the beatific vision).
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; hellhell,
in Western monotheistic religions, eternal abode of souls damned by the judgment of God. The souls in hell are deprived forever of the sight of God. The punishment of hell is generally analogized to earthly fire.
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.

Bibliography

See C. J. Caes, Beyond Time: Ideas of the Great Philosophers on Eternal Existence and Immortality (1985); P. and L. Badham, Death and Immortality in the Religions of the World (1987).

Immortality

See also Agelessness.
Admetus
granted everlasting life when wife Alcestis dies in his place. [Gk. Myth.: NCE, 54]
amber axe
symbol of everlasting life. [Western Folklore: Jobes, 82]
ambrosia
food of gods; bestows immortality. [Gk. Myth.: Brewer Dictionary]
amrita
beverage conferring immortality. [Hindu Myth.: Parrinder, 19]
ankh
talisman ensuring everlasting life. [Egyptian Myth.: Jobes, 99]
apples of perpetual youth
admit Norse gods to eternal life. [Norse Myth.: Benét, 43]
Calypso
promises Odysseus eternal youth and immortality if he will stay with her forever. [Gk. Myth.: Brewer Dictionary, 166]
cedar
symbol of everlasting life. [Western Folklore: Jobes, 301]
Chiron
immortal centaur. [Gk. Myth.: Kravitz, 58]
cicada
symbol of eternal life. [Chinese Folklore: Jobes, 338]
cypress
symbol of eternal life. [Flower Symbolism: Jobes, 402]
cypress coffin
symbolizes everlasting life; used for burials of heroes. [Gk. and Egyptian Folklore: Leach, 272]
fan palm
emblem of eternal life among early Christians. [Plant Symbolism: Embolden, 25–26]
globe amaranth
flower of immortality. [Flower Symbolism: Flora Symbolica, 172]
greybeard-grow-young
magical lake plant; its scent conferred everlasting life. [Babyl. Myth.: Gilgamesh]
ichor
flows through the veins of gods instead of blood. [Gk. Myth.: Brewer Dictionary]
Luggnagg
imaginary island; inhabitants immortal but lack immortal health. [Br. Lit.: Gulliver’s Travels]
nectar
drink of gods; bestows eternal life. [Gk. and Rom. Myth.: Brewer Dictionary, 75)]
nightingale
immortal bird whose voice has been heard from time immemorial. [Br. Poetry: Keats “Ode to a Nightingale”]
scarab
dung-beetle; said to carry secret of eternal life. [Egyptian Legend: Brewer Dictionary, 967]
serpent
sheds skin to renew its life. [Gk. Myth.: Gaster, 37]
Struldbrugs
race “cursed” with gift of deathlessness. [Br. Lit.: Gulliver’s Travels]
Tithonus
given eternal life but not eternal youth. [Gk. Myth.: Brewer Dictionary, 1087]
tree of life
eat of its fruit and live forever. [O.T.: Genesis, 3:22]
Utnapishtim
blessed by Enlil with everlasting life. [Babyl. Myth.: Gilgamesh]
Wandering Jew
doomed to live forever for scorning Jesus. [Fr. Lit.: The Wandering Jew]
Xanthus and Balius
Achilles’ divine horses. [Gk. Lit.: Iliad]
yew
traditionally planted in churchyards; symbol of deathlessness. [Br. Legend: Brewer Dictionary, 1171]
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