The concept of Hell has been a topic of fascination for centuries, with different interpretations across cultures and time periods3. Ancient Greek philosophers, such as the Pythagoreans, saw Hell as a ball of fire at the center of the universe, symbolizing creation. English poet John Milton, on the other hand, portrayed Hell as a state of mind2, a mental inferno created by emotions like grief and regret. In both cases, the idea of Hell serves as a catalyst for transformation and enlightenment.
What is the concept of hell according to ancient Greek philosophy and John Milton?
Ancient Greek philosophers known as Pythagoreans conceptualized hell not as a fiery inferno of torment, but as a ball of fire at the center of the universe, symbolizing the heart of creation. English poet John Milton, in his epic Paradise Lost, described hell as a state of mind, a mental inferno created by emotions like grief, despair, and regret, rather than a specific location.
“Please try to go to hell frequently because you will find the light there.”
The concept of Hell, the fiery inferno of eternal torment, has intrigued and terrified humanity for millennia. Its supposed location, its nature, and its purpose have been the subject of countless theses and discussions among theologians, philosophers, and scholars. However, in the realm of ancient Greek philosophy, the Pythagoreans, a scientific sect that existed two millennia before Nicolaus Copernicus’ revolutionary heliocentric model, posited a unique concept. They placed a ball of fire, not as a symbol of Hell, but at the heart of creation, the very center of the universe.
Hell, according to English poet John Milton in his epic Paradise Lost, isn’t a specific location but rather a state of mind: “The mind is its own place,” he mused, “and in it self can make a Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n.” It’s in the mind where grief and despair, heartache and humiliation, rage and regret, converge, creating a mental inferno that’s as hot as a nova and as all-consuming as a black hole.
The Hellfire of the Mind: A Crucible for Transformation
But this hellfire of the mind is not without its purpose. Those who are brave enough, conscious enough to endure its heat and walk through its blaze, are in essence, stepping into a crucible1. In the scalding flames and relentless heat, they are annealed, forged into something stronger. They are reborn.
Celebrating this transformative power of human suffering is non-speaking autistic poet Hannah Emerson in her shamanic poem, “Center of the Universe,” which is a part of her extraordinary collection The Kissing of Kissing (public library). Her words, a song of the mind electric, resonate with an emphatic affirmation of life.
CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE by Hannah Emerson Please try to go to hell frequently because you will find the light there yes yes — please try to kiss the ideas that you find there yes yes — please try to get that it is the center of the universe yes yes — please try to help yourself by kissing the hot hot hot life that is born there yes yes — please try to yell in hell yes yes — please try to free yourself by pouring yourself into the gutter all guttural guttural yell yes yes yes — please try to get that you become the being that you came there to be yes yes — please try to go to the great great great fire that you created because you become the light that the fire makes inside of you yes yes — please try to kiss yourself for going there yes yes — please get that you are reborn there yes yes — please begin your day.
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The concept of Hell has fascinated people for a long time. Ancient Greek philosophers believed that Hell was a ball of fire at the center of the universe, symbolizing creation. English poet John Milton, on the other hand, thought of Hell as a state of mind, created by negative emotions like grief and regret. Both of these ideas show that Hell can lead to transformation and enlightenment.
In ancient Greek philosophy, Hell was seen as a ball of fire at the center of the universe, representing the heart of creation. This is different from the popular idea of Hell as a place of torment.
John Milton, in his epic poem “Paradise Lost,” described Hell as a state of mind. He believed that the mind can create its own Hell or Heaven, depending on the emotions it experiences. Hell, in this sense, is not a physical location, but a mental state.
Despite the negative connotations, the concept of Hell can be seen as a catalyst for transformation and enlightenment. By enduring the mental “hellfire,” people can become stronger and be reborn as better versions of themselves.
In a poem called “Center of the Universe,” poet Hannah Emerson celebrates the transformative power of suffering. She encourages people to embrace the challenges they face and find the light within them.
Supporting artistic endeavors, like poetry, is important because art can move, inspire, and heal. If you have been enriched by a particular artist or work, consider making a donation to support them.