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CHAPTER FIVE

TARTARUS AND THE ABYSS

 

 

“Tartarus is the lowest region of the world, as far below earth as earth is from heaven. According to the Greek poet Hesiod, a bronze anvil falling from heaven would take nine days and nights to reach earth, and an object would take the same amount of time to fall from earth into Tartarus. Tartarus is described as a dark, gloomy pit, surrounded by a wall of bronze, and beyond that a three-fold layer of night. Along with Chaos, Earth, and Eros, it is one of the first entities to exist in the universe.” Encyclopedia Mythica

 

“|n Greek mythology, Tartarus is a place in the underworld — even lower than Hades. In Roman mythology, Tartarus is the place where enemies of the gods are sent. Virgil describes it in the Aeneid as a gigantic place, the deepest part of the underworld, surrounded by the flaming river Phlegethon and triple walls to prevent its tormented captives from escaping.“

http://www.theopedia.c0m/Tafiarus

 

It is primarily the prison for defeated gods; the Titans were condemned to Tartarus after losing their battle against the Olympian gods, and the Hecatoncheires stood over them as guards at the bronze gates. When Zeus overcomes the monster Typhus, born from Tartarus and Gaia, he hurls it too into the same abyss.

Hecatoncheires

 

The Hekatonkheires were children of Gaia and Ouranus. Three creatures bearing hundreds of arms and fifty heads.

“According to Thayer’s Greek Definitions, Tartaroo is "the name of the subterranean region, doleful and dark, regarded by the ancient Greeks as the abode of the wicked dead, where they suffer punishment for their evil deeds; it answers to Gehenna of the Jews." John F. Walvoord writes that the term "is frequently found in Jewish apocalyptic literature, where it refers to a place even lower than hell where the wicked are punished." http://www.theopedia.com

 

However, in later myths Tartarus becomes a place of punishment for sinners. It resembles Hell and is the opposite of Elysium, the afterlife for the blessed. Elysium or the Elysian Fields (Ancient Greek: 'H)\uo|ov Trsoiov, Elysion pedion) is a conception of the afterlife that developed over time and was maintained by certain Greek religious and philosophical sects and cults.

 

lnitially separate from the realm of Hades, admission was reserved for mortals related to the gods and other heroes. Later, it expanded to include those chosen by the gods, the righteous, and the heroic, where they would remain after death, to live a blessed and happy life, and indulging in whatever employment they had enjoyed in life. lt corresponds to “Abraham’s bosom“ or “Paradise“.

 

Tartarus or Tartaros (Tdptoipog), in ancient Greek mythology, is the deep abyss that is used as a dungeon of torment and suffering for the wicked and as the prison for the Titans. As far below Hades as the earth is below the heavens, Tartarus is the place where, according to Plato in Gorgias (c. 400 BC), souls were judged after death and where the wicked received punishment. Various forms of punishment were devised for the prisoners, usually in an ironic way related to their misdeeds on Earth.

 

Rhadamanthus, Aeacus and Minos were the judges of the dead who went to Tartarus. They were originally mortal men, sons of the god Zeus.

 

 

 

Aiakos was the guardian of the keys of the Hades and the judge of the men of Europe, Rhadamanthys was lord of Elysion and judge of the men of Asia, and Minos was the judge of the final vote. Some say there was a fourth judge Triptolemos who presided over the souls of the Initiates of the Mysteries. Otherwise the gods just sent who they saw fit. The first inhabitants of Taitarus were the Cyclopes (Giant beings with a single, round eye in the middle

of their foreheads.) and the Hecatonchires (“each of them having a hundred hands and fifty heads"), put there by Cronus. Zeus freed them in exchange for their help during the Titanomachy. After the war, the Titans (who were a primeval race of powerful deities, descendants of Gaia (Earth) and Uranus (Sky), that ruled during the legendary Golden Age.

 

They were immortal giants of incredible strength and were also the first pantheon of Greek gods and goddesses.) were thrown into Tartarus, with a few exceptions. Even some of the Olympian gods were sent there as Apollo was once a prisoner there. Generally it was the prison house of the powerful super beings in the Greek mythology. Even though initially only immortals were cast into Taltarus but, later, it came to be a place for wicked mortals as well.

 

In Roman mythology, Tartarus is the place where sinners are sent. Virgil describes it in the Aeneid as a gigantic place, surrounded by the flaming river Phlegethon and triple walls to prevent sinners from escaping from it.

It is guarded by a hydra with fifty black gaping jaws, which sits at a screeching gate protected by columns of solid adamantine, a substance akin to diamond - so hard that nothing will cut through it.

Hydra and Tisiphone

 

Inside, there is a castle with wide walls, and a tall iron turret. Tisiphone, (Her name means ‘voice of revenge.‘ The Erinyes were formed when the blood of Uranus fell on Gaia when the son of Uranus, Cronus, killed him. The Furies pursued particularly heinous criminals) one of the Erinyes who represents revenge, stands guard sleepless at the top of this turret lashing a whip. There is a pit inside which is said to extend down into the earth twice as far as the

distance from the lands of the living to Olympus. At the bottom of this pit lie the Titans and many others.

Tartarus is only known in Hellenistic Jewish literature from the Greek text of 1 Enoch, dated to 400-200 BC. This states that God placed the archangel Uriel "in charge of the world and of Tartarus" (20:2). Tartarus is generally understood to be the place where 200 fallen Watchers (angels) who are imprisoned until the final judgment. .

"For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell (Lit. Tartarus) and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; . . ." (2 Peter 2:4).

 

We can see the identification of the tradition of Titans with the fallen angels.

Adam Clarke reasoned that Peter's use of language relating to the Titans was an indication that the ancient Greeks had heard of a Biblical punishment of fallen angels. Some Evangelical Christian commentaries distinguish Tartarus as a place for wicked angels and Gehenna as a place for wicked humans on the basis of this verse. Other Evangelical commentaries, in reconciling that some fallen angels are chained in Tartarus, yet some not, attempt to distinguish between one type of fallen angel and another

 

Brittanica gives the following description:

“Tartarus, the infernal regions of ancient Greek mythology. The name was originally used for the deepest region of the world, the lower of the two parts of the unden/vorld, where the gods locked up their enemies. It gradually came to mean the entire underworld. As such it was the opposite of Elysium, where happy souls lived after death. In some accounts Tartarus was one of the personified elements of the world, along with Gaea (Earth) and others. According to those accounts, Tartarus and Gaea produced the monster Typhon."

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/583773/Tartarus

 

"Tartarus is so named after the god, or angel, who keeps charge of this deepest region (likewise Abaddon is a place in Job 26:6 but a person in Rev 9:11). According to the Greeks, the supreme god in the beginning was Ouranos (or Uranus), a name that simply meant ‘Heaven’. He was married to Gaia (‘Earth’), at a time when there was no divorce between the domains: the God of heaven lived on earth. However, as in the traditions of other peoples, men became wicked and rebellious. Many of Ouranos’s sons, called Titans, were closely involved in

their rebellion. Eventually a Titan named Kronos emasculated Ouranos with a knife and reigned on earth in his place. But he could not rest. Haunted by Gaia’s prophecy that one of his sons would overthrow him, Kronos swallowed his own sons as soon as they were born — including Poseidon and Hades — and imprisoned them in his stomach. It was to no avail. Unbeknown to Kronos, there was another son, Zeus, and when he reached manhood Zeus forced his father to vomit up his children. War broke out between the Titans headed by Kronos

and the younger gods headed by Zeus. Great boulders crashed down from the heights of heaven and crushed the Titans. Sea and earth resounded with the clamour, the firmament groaned, torrential rain flooded the earth. Some men tried to escape to the hilltops but were overwhelmed by the waters. Only one couple, righteous and God-fearing, survived, floating in a wooden ark or chest, and eventually they came to land on Mount Parnassus. The defeated Titans were chained up in Tartarus, Poseidon was allotted the dominion of the ocean, and

Hades (another god) was allotted the dominion of the underworld.

 

The parallels between the two traditions, Greek and Hebrew, are striking. Since the Greeks and Israelites were too remote from each other for borrowing to be plausible, and culturally too disparate, it must be that both traditions had the same root. Ouranos was the God of heaven, Kronos was one of his sons. In the Hebrew tradition the son assumed the form of a legged serpent (a dragon or lizard) and rebelled against his father. In consequence, his offspring (Gen

3:15; Jn 8:44, Eph 2:2) were destined to be at enmity with the primeval woman's offspring, though eventually one of her descendants was to bruise his head. In the Greek tradition the dragon, called Typhon, was the result of Gaia mating with Tartarus. Zeus, whose name also meant ‘Heaven’, seemed to be the same deity as Ouranos, but he was a new ruler of the world, a son of Kronos rather than of Ouranos, one who falsely presented himself as having defeated the dragon long before the present age. The Titans - ‘the former gods‘ in Hesiod‘s phrase - were brothers of Kronos, fellow sons of Ouranos. In order to have intercourse with

women, they also had abandoned their proper places in heaven, and the Cyclopes were the giants born of their union (cf Gen 6)"

(http://www.ea|1hhistory.org.uk/wp-content/HadesTartarusandGehenna.pdf)

 

ABYSS/PIT

1917 Rudolf Steiner Sculpture of Lucifer in the Abyss

The next word revealing another chamber under the earth is the Greek abussos, which is translated in English as the word abyss. This word alludes to an unspecific area under the earth that is a huge void, an empty cavity that cannot be measured. The King James Version says “Deep,” but the Greek word is abussos, or the abyss.

Strong's Hebrew 8415

36 Occurrences

tehom: deep, sea, abyss

Original Word:

 

Tehom (Hebrew: ), literally the Deep or Abyss (Greek Septuagint: abyssos), refers to the Great Deep of the primordial waters of creation in the Bible. It is first mentioned in Genesis 1:2:

“And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." Thus, the word tehom is linked to the sea in Job 28:14 and to the depths of the earth in Psalm 71 :20.

 

JEWISH BELIEFS IN AFTER LIFE

There were three groups of people within the Jewish community which is reported to us essentially through Josephus.

The Jewish War, Book II, Chapter 8.2

119 “For three forms of philosophy are pursued among the Judeans: the members of one are Pharisees, of another Sadducees, and the third [school], who certainly are reputed to cultivate seriousness, are called Essenes.”

 

THE SADDUCEES

The Sadducees rejected the Oral Law as proposed by the Pharisees. Rather, they saw the Torah as the sole source of divine authority. The written law, in its depiction of the priesthood, corroborated the power and enforced the hegemony of the Sadducees in Judean society.

 

According to Josephus, the Sadducees believed that:

- There is no fate

- God does not commit evil

- Man has free will; “man has the free choice of good or evil"

- The soul is not immortal; there is no afterlife, and

- There are no rewards or penalties after death

The Sadducees rejected the belief in resurrection of the dead, which was a central tenet believed by Pharisees and by Early Christians. As a result of their rejection of life after death, the Sadducees believed that God's blessing and judgement would occur during one's life on earth. Unlike the Essenes, who were fatalistic, the Sadducees believed in free will. The Sadducees supposedly believed in the traditional Jewish concept of Sheol for those who had

died.

 

THE PHARISEES

The Pharisees began sometime after the Babylonian exile and before the uprising of 165 BC. Most scholars link them with the Hasidism or "pious men" of the 2nd century. The Pharisee ("separatist") party emerged largely out of the group of scribes and sages. The Pharisees were active from the middle of the second century B.C.E. until the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E

 

The OT "mostly denies or at least ignores the possibility of a future life. Only a few texts come out strongly for a different view. The resurrection concept burst into Judaism only during the Babylonian exile of Judah with Daniel.

Daniel 12:1-4 says: "1 “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book— will be delivered. 2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. 4 But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time

of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.”

 

If they were to be resurrected the dead should be somewhere still living. It means there is life after life after life. It is not a single stage life afterlife

 

Not like this

But this is a two stage future life.

 

The purpose of the intermediate stage is either rest or a period of purification. The cycle of day and night analogy will indicate a period of sleep and rejuvenation for a more mature adult life. This also assumes that during the intermediate period, the personality (soul) remain in tact as a unit without dissolution. This would mean the immortality of the soul of man with a

continuity in memory and personality. Resurrection also implies a Judgment which decides the new body. This was the belief of the Pharisees.

Some did consider annihilation for the unrighteous based entirely on the character of the loving God. We have no scriptural revelation for that conclusion.

 

ESSENES

While several ancient authors including Philo of Alexandria and Pliny the Elder mention the Essenes, only Josephus and Hippolytus make reference to their views of the afterlife which shows the origin of the Gnostics of the later generations.

Josephus says:

“For it is a fixed belief of theirs (of the Essenes) that the body is corruptible and its constituent matter impermanent, but that the soul is immortal and imperishable. Emanating from the finest ether, these souls become entangled, as it were, in the prison house of the body, to which they are dragged down by a sort of natural spell; but when once they are released from the bonds of the flesh, then, as though liberated from a long servitude, they rejoice and are borne aloft.

Sharing the belief of the sons of Greece, they maintain that for virtuous souls there is reserved an abode beyond the ocean, a place which is not oppressed by rain or snow or heat, but is refreshed by the ever gentle breath of the west wind coming in from the ocean; while they relegate base souls to a murky and tempestuous dungeon, big with never-ending punishments.