The concept of an afterlife has profoundly changed throughout western civilization and reflects the outlook of those living at the time. The concept of an afterlife serves many purposes and motivations. For Plato in Hellenistic Greece, an afterlife completes his argument on the nature of justice; an afterlife provides motivation for individuals to be just, with the promise of a reward or punishment. Similarly, the Roman writers Cicero and Virgil use the rewards and punishments in the afterlife as motivation for justice with more weight on the Roman values of patriotism and public service. Greco-Roman values become Christianized as Dante borrows from Aristotelean ethics to systematically classify sin. To classify sin is to understand and thus overcome sin.
"Depictions (Visions) of the Afterlife: A Reflection of Societal (Social) Values,"
JCCC Honors Journal:
1, Article 4.
Available at: http://scholarspace.jccc.edu/honors_journal/vol3/iss1/4