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Virgil’s Prediction of the Underworld Essay

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Updated: Jan 4th, 2022


Virgil’s depiction of the underworld has influenced our modern conception of the afterlife. Research on both Virgil’s depiction of the underworld and the modern conception of life after death and comparing them is important. Methods used in this research are websites, the book Aeneid – Translation by Robert Fitzgerald and papers. The conclusion is based on the worldview, and also more views that people have about life after death. It has highlighted the different places people go to after they die. It has also shown what determines where one will end up after death.

Virgil’s concept

Robert Fitzgerald (1990) gives a narration about life through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. It is a creative narrative on the observations he made. According to Fitzgerald, Virgil has great influence in his style, language and content. Aeneid’s information suits his viewpoint and purposes. Virgil points out the Christian vision he has concerning the afterlife. There is another life which is different in the visual and theological realm but almost similar to Virgil’s underworld.

Fitzgerald also noted that the structure of hell is created to fit his theological and Christian beliefs. This is in relation to the idea of justice for one’s behavior and action in their lifetime. According to Virgil there is hell and there is an entrance. Secondly, in between the world of the living and that of the dead, there is an inferno. This means that one has a choice to make on where they want to be through their actions. There is a difference between the two worlds in that, what is found in the underworld is intangible, abstract and of bodiless quality as compared to the physical reality (Fitzgerald, 1990)

Perception of hell

Hell is alleged to be underground, mysterious and lifeless. Darkness is used to symbolize lost Christians’ souls being punished and tortured so as to compensate for their sins. Virgil has divided hell into regions. Sinners suffer differently for sins they committed in the world, and sinners who committed the same sin are tortured and punished together.

Virgil has insight that helps him give an idea on how to pass through a place where there are dead people and safely get to heaven.

Virgil’s pale and dull environment shows the experiences in a Christian’s life. Faith keeps a person going when they encounter hardships in life. Virgil notes that many religions believe hell is a place full of suffering and punishment where evil people end up in after this life. Hell is depicted as endless and an intermediary between incarnations. Apart from hell, it is noted that there are other places such as heaven, limbo, paradise, purgatory, Nirvana and Naraka (Fitzgerald, 1990). One has to go to either of these places as a reward or as a punishment. However there are some people who do not believe in either of this but they know there is a place under the earth for the dead.

Modern concept

Modern belief shows hell as a situation of defeat rather than a place of anguish. It is occupied with demons that torment those in hell. Those ruling hell are the devil or Satan, while others believe in death gods such as Hades and Nergal. It also shows that hell is a place where people are punished for the sins they committed on earth and this punishment could be for every sin committed or it could be general, where all sinners suffer at the same level. Most religions depict hell as a painful and fiery place full of suffering, a place where fire burn souls.

Greek, Hindu and Roman tradition share a myth. These three personify their gods. Virgil in the Aeneid changes metempsychosis relating it to the afterlife with the Christian faith. It is important to note that Hindus believe in reincarnation and they dismiss the notion that there is hell. As noted by Fitzgerald, all the three believe in the soul being pure and immortal. However they differ in the duration of the afterlife and the final destiny of the soul. Karma either rewards or punishes souls in the next life as opposed to the after life.

Views of afterlife

Life after death is a conscience that most people have on what will happen after the body dies either naturally or supernaturally. The existence of a person is either in the form of a spirit or spiritual realm. Virgil notes that different people have different views on life after death depending on for example, their religion, from research or their experiences. Academic research in form of case studies, field reports and interviews form a phenomenon, while laboratory research is related to parapsychology (Fitzgerald, 1990. Views can also be based on faith which is derived from reading religious books such as the Bible, Koran, or from stories told by ancestors.


Virgil’s depiction of the underworld has influenced our modern conception of the afterlife in various ways. People believe that after they die, there is a place one goes to rest. One’s resting place is determined by their actions when alive and one could either receive a reward or get punished for wrong doing. However, despite one’s lifestyle, a person can repent before they die and obtain forgiveness. This is a common belief among the Christians. Virgil has shown all the places where one can end up after the body dies. These places are heaven, limbo, paradise, purgatory, hell, Nirvana and Naraka. It is up to each one to choose where they want to be and this is determined by their actions whilst on earth.

Reference List

Fitzgerald, R. (1990). The Aeneid, translation. New York, NY: Vintage Classics, Random House, Inc.

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