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Chapter 10 - Afterdeath Locations and Return Appearances, from Scripture to Shakespeare

from Part II - Theological Perspectives

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 December 2020

Richard Matthew Pollard
Affiliation:
Université du Québec à Montréal
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Summary

More common than Dante’s afterdeath schematic was that of St Thomas Aquinas; both have a supernal heaven, but Thomas’s infernal regions, based on Scripture and tradition, consisted of the limbo of the Fathers, emptied by Christ at his death, at the highest; immediately beneath it was the temporary hell of purgatory; under that was the limbo of infants; and at the very bottom was the region of the perpetually damned. It was believed that both souls in heaven (the saints) and the suffering souls in purgatory could somehow return to the earth’s surface, and it was also believed that some of the departed souls suffered their purging on earth instead of, or as well as, in purgatory (the ghost in Hamlet is a late example). It was assumed that these souls of the ‘saved dead’ had knowledge of what was happening among still-embodied mortals, and they were able (with divine permission) to have immediate means of communication with them.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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