Getty Art + Ideas Podcast: “Imagining The Afterlife”

“The underworld, the afterlife, is fairly dank, dark, shadowy; quite frankly, it’s a bit boring. Somewhat like waiting at a bus depot.”

Homer’s Odyssey depicts an afterlife that is relatively dull, with heroic actions and glory reserved for the living. Nonetheless, people in Southern Italy in the fourth century BCE were captivated by the underworld and decorated large funerary vases with scenes of the afterlife—the domain of Hades and Persephone, where sinners like Sisyphus are tortured for eternity and heroes like Herakles and Orpheus performed daring feats.

Little is known about precisely how these vases were used and seen in death rituals. A new book by Getty Publications, Underworld: Imagining the Afterlife in Ancient South Italian Vase Painting, brings together 40 such vases and explores new research on them.

In this episode, Getty Museum curator of antiquities David Saunders discusses these enormous and often elaborate vases, explaining the myths they depict and what is known about the ways in which they were used. Saunders is editor of Underworld.

For images, transcripts, and more, visit https://blogs.getty.edu/iris/podcast-imagining-the-afterlife-through-ancient-vases/ or http://www.getty.edu/podcasts

To buy the book Underworld: Imagining the Afterlife in Ancient South Italian Vase Painting, visit https://shop.getty.edu/products/underworld-imagining-the-afterlife-in-ancient-south-italian-vase-painting-978-1606067345

To learn more about the exhibition, visit 

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