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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].
..... Click the link for more information. 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.
..... Click the link for more information. 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
..... Click the link for more information. of the body (in the sense of survival of personality) as well as immortality of the soul. See spiritismspiritism
belief that the human personality continues to exist after death and can communicate with the living through the agency of a medium or psychic.
..... Click the link for more information. ; 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).
..... Click the link for more information. ; 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.
..... Click the link for more information. .
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).
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See also Agelessness.Admetus
granted everlasting life when wife Alcestis dies in his place. [Gk. Myth.: NCE, 54]
symbol of everlasting life. [Western Folklore: Jobes, 82]
food of gods; bestows immortality. [Gk. Myth.: Brewer Dictionary]
beverage conferring immortality. [Hindu Myth.: Parrinder, 19]
apples of perpetual youth
talisman ensuring everlasting life. [Egyptian Myth.: Jobes, 99]
admit Norse gods to eternal life. [Norse Myth.: Benét, 43]
promises Odysseus eternal youth and immortality if he will stay with her forever. [Gk. Myth.: Brewer Dictionary, 166]
symbol of everlasting life. [Western Folklore: Jobes, 301]
immortal centaur. [Gk. Myth.: Kravitz, 58]
symbol of eternal life. [Chinese Folklore: Jobes, 338]
symbol of eternal life. [Flower Symbolism: Jobes, 402]
symbolizes everlasting life; used for burials of heroes. [Gk. and Egyptian Folklore: Leach, 272]
emblem of eternal life among early Christians. [Plant Symbolism: Embolden, 25–26]
flower of immortality. [Flower Symbolism: Flora Symbolica, 172]
magical lake plant; its scent conferred everlasting life. [Babyl. Myth.: Gilgamesh]
flows through the veins of gods instead of blood. [Gk. Myth.: Brewer Dictionary]
imaginary island; inhabitants immortal but lack immortal health. [Br. Lit.: Gulliver’s Travels]
drink of gods; bestows eternal life. [Gk. and Rom. Myth.: Brewer Dictionary, 75)]
immortal bird whose voice has been heard from time immemorial. [Br. Poetry: Keats “Ode to a Nightingale”]
dung-beetle; said to carry secret of eternal life. [Egyptian Legend: Brewer Dictionary, 967]
sheds skin to renew its life. [Gk. Myth.: Gaster, 37]
race “cursed” with gift of deathlessness. [Br. Lit.: Gulliver’s Travels]
tree of life
given eternal life but not eternal youth. [Gk. Myth.: Brewer Dictionary, 1087]
eat of its fruit and live forever. [O.T.: Genesis, 3:22]
blessed by Enlil with everlasting life. [Babyl. Myth.: Gilgamesh]
Xanthus and Balius
doomed to live forever for scorning Jesus. [Fr. Lit.: The Wandering Jew]
Achilles’ divine horses. [Gk. Lit.: Iliad]
traditionally planted in churchyards; symbol of deathlessness. [Br. Legend: Brewer Dictionary, 1171]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.