Ursi's Eso Garden
Your Competent Esoteric Guide
Wednesday, 16. April 2008
Hell - It’s Representation Through The Ages
A fiery vault beneath the earth or as Sartre put it, other people - it seems our ideas of hell are inevitably shaped by religious and cultural forces. For Homer and Virgil it’s a place you can visit and return from, often a wiser person for it. With Christianity it’s a one way journey and a just punishment for a sinful, unrepentant life.
Sandro Botticelli - Chart of Hell - ca. 1480-95 / Click the picture for a larger view
Writers and painters like Dante and Hieronymus Bosch gave free rein to their imaginations, depicting a complex hierarchical world filled with the writhing bodies of tormented sinners. In the 20th century hell can be found on earth in portrayals of war and the Holocaust but also in the mind, particularly in the works of TS Eliot and Primo Levi.
So what is the purpose of hell and why is it found mainly in religions concerned with salvation? Why has hell proved so inspirational for artists through the ages, perhaps more so than heaven? And why do some ideas of hell require a Satan figure while others don't?
Melvyn Bragg's guests are:
Margaret Kean, Tutor and Fellow in English at St Hilda’s College, Oxford
Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum
then listen to this programme in full here (43 minutes):
Broadcast was on December 2006 at BBC 4, 'In Our Time'.
Also available for RealPlayer.
You may also like:
Dante's Inferno by The University of Texas at Austin - a multimedia journey - combining images, textual commentary, and audio - through the various regions of hell described in Dante's Inferno.
Heaven and Hell by The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Tyger of Wrath: William Blake in the National Gallery of Victoria.
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