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The Solitude of the Dying

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Certain strands of modern literature and philosophy have laid pronounced emphasis upon the impossibility of sharing the experience of dying: in the face of death, all social bonds dissolve and the human being finds himself in the deepest and most inescapable of solitudes. Greek myth, however, depicts stories in which death is physically shared by two individuals, or magically transferred from one individual to another: such stories provide a fascinating starting point for comparing ancient and modern views on the same problem, or, rather, for exploring ancient perspectives on a modern problem. This article takes as its premise the idea that 'death' as an abstract notion is a human construct, and argues that feelings and questions associated with death, such as that of its inexorable power to isolate the dying person psychologically from the rest of mankind, are not intrinsic to the phenomenon, but instead determined by culture.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2019

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  • Hermes, founded in 1866 and currently edited by Siegmar Döpp, Karl-Joachim Hölkeskamp and Adolf Köhnken, is an international, peer-reviewed journal on Greek and Roman antiquity. It focuses on linguistics, literature as well as history. It features original articles in English, German, French and Italian.
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