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July 30, 2008 12:32 PM   Subscribe

Besides the Tibetan Book of the Dead, are there other ancient cultural texts about dying?

I was wondering what other books, texts, scriptures - from other societies or religions or philosophies talk about the process of dying and passing to the next world.
posted by generic230 to Religion & Philosophy (10 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Well, there's the Egyptian Book of the Dead.
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:38 PM on July 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's book On Death and Dying is a classic.
posted by mattbucher at 12:45 PM on July 30, 2008

Some consider the Voyage of Mael Duin's Boat to be a Celtic book of the dead.
posted by rjs at 12:54 PM on July 30, 2008

One of the oldest and most interesting ancient stories is the Epic of Gilgamesh from Mesopotamia.

Alan Segal has a long but good overview of Biblical, ancient Jewish, and early Christian beliefs and narratives.

For ancient Greece -- in addition to book 11 of the Odyssey - you might want to check out this interesting book by Emily T. Vermeule on death in early Greek poetry and art, or Sarah Iles Johnston's book on the unhappy dead.

Robert Garland overs an excellent overview of Classical Greek practices and attitudes.
posted by Rain Man at 2:09 PM on July 30, 2008

That is, Garland offers ....
posted by Rain Man at 2:10 PM on July 30, 2008

Not sure if it fits the bill, but "Japanese Death Poems" is an awesome collection of poems written by zen teachers/masters who were near death, mostly from the 17th & 18th century. It's edited by Yoel Hoffman.
posted by the bricabrac man at 3:24 PM on July 30, 2008

Albeit allegorical rather than literal, Dante's Divine Comedy takes the reader through the Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven of the Catholic afterlife.
posted by XMLicious at 3:46 PM on July 30, 2008

Plato's dialogue *Phaedo* is a discussion about death and the immortality of the soul, and the tenth book of his *Republic* contains the famous Myth of Er.
posted by philosophygeek at 5:34 PM on July 30, 2008

Here's a decent introduction to Sheol, the place where the dead went according to the Hebrew Bible (aka Old Testament, aka Tanakh).
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:22 PM on July 30, 2008

Richard Matheson's "What Dreams May Come" is written as a novel, but it is the author's belief as to what happens to the soul after death, and is filled with (interestingly put) discussions about what happens after death; in the foreword, he indicates the details arose from extensive research on his part.
posted by WCityMike at 8:21 PM on July 30, 2008

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