Imagining the Afterlife in Ancient South Italian Vase Painting
What happens to us when we die? What might the afterlife look like? For the ancient Greeks, the dead lived on, overseen by Hades in the Underworld. We read of famous sinners, such as Sisyphus, forever rolling his rock, and the fierce guard dog Kerberos, who was captured by Herakles. For mere mortals, ritual and religion offered possibilities for ensuring a happy existence in the beyond, and some of the richest evidence for beliefs about death comes from southern Italy, where the local Italic peoples engaged with Greek beliefs. Monumental funerary vases that accompanied the deceased were decorated with consolatory scenes from myth, and around forty preserve elaborate depictions of Hades's domain. For the first time in over four decades, these compelling vase paintings are brought together in one volume, with detailed commentaries and ample illustrations. The catalogue is accompanied by a series of essays by leading experts in the field, which provides a framework for understanding these intriguing scenes and their contexts. Topics include attitudes toward the afterlife in Greek ritual and myth, inscriptions on leaves of gold that provided guidance for the deceased; funerary practices and religious beliefs in Apulia, and the importance accorded to Orpheus and Dionysos. Drawing from a variety of textual and archaeological sources, this volume is an essential source for anyone interested in religion and belief in the ancient Mediterranean.
About the Author
David Saunders is an honorary research fellow at the British Museum, having been keeper of conservation and scientific research|there for ten years, until 2015. He was previously in the Scientific Department at the National Gallery in London. He is a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London and vice president of the International Institute of Conservation. In 2015-16, he was a guest scholar at the Getty Conservation Institute, conducting the research that underpins much of this book.