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Underworld

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The parade is named after Orpheus, a figure fr...

Orpheus, a figure from Greek mythology, as an illustration of the power of music. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In mythology the underworld generally refers to a place beneath the earth’s surface or under the sea, the afterlife realm of the deceased, or a hellish zone filled with demons.

The mythological underworld is usually separated from everyday life by an expanse or an abyss.

The gates of the underworld are often guarded by menacing creatures, like snakes or the Greek underworld’s Lord of Death, Cerberus (giant three-headed dog). In legend, the Greek Orpheus used his melodious lyre to try to liberate Eurydice from Cerberus. But like Lot’s wife, Orpheus ignored a dire warning to “not look back” during the escape. And while looking back over his shoulder, Orpheus lost Eurydice to the underworld forever.

In ancient Egypt the sun god Re (or Ra) was said to pass through the underworld on a nightly basis. David Leeming notes that Re (Ra) was attacked by his enemies, particularly Apep, but defended by Seth and other benevolent afterlife spirits.†

The Sun Temple at Konark is a 13th cent temple...

The Sun Temple at Konark is a 13th cent temple built by Narasimhadeva I. Made of oxdized sandstone, the temple is decorated with a variety of carvings. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Egyptian Osiris was the ruler of the underworld, as a sort of death and resurrection figure—an elevated status that came about from his dismemberment and subsequent reassembly.

A similar belief  to the Egyptian Re (Ra) myth is expressed in India at the sun temple at Konark. Architecturally, the Konark temple is a chariot of 24 wheels, where the sun god  Surya begins the day as Brahma, enters midday as Siva, and spends the night as Visnu.

A 2003 film about vampires and werewolves is called Underworld and its sequel is Underworld: Evolution (2006).

Cat Claw is a fictional comic book superhero created by Serbian artist Branislav Kerac and writer Svetozar Obradović (Wikipedia).

Not surprisingly, depth psychologists (especially Jungians) tend to link underworld myths with the idea of the unconscious.

And urban legend associates the underworld with organized crime groups, and even corruption in general. These depictions are usually highly stylized, as in comic books and video games.

Related Posts » Archetypal Image

† David Leeming, Oxford Companion to World Mythology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), p. 337.

 

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