Humans and the Fear of death

Epictetus wrote in his "Discourses and Selected Writings" about the idea of humans fearing death. He spoke about how actual events do not disturb people, but their judgments concerning them do. He has several quotes on this idea from, "Death is not frightening itself but the judgment of death is what we are afraid of" to "Death is not fearful, but dying like a coward is". Therefore many people fear death, and choose to react to loved ones dying by entering a depressed state of mourning filled with tears and sorrow. Several other intellectual individuals have commented on this idea, including Lucretius and Nietzsche. The first half of this presentation focuses on the ideas of humans fearing death, and mourning those who have passed in a negative, depressing way. The majority of these images and works of art deal with the death of Christ, and how Christ himself feared death, as well as everyone else mourning his death. They depict a dark, sad, fearful view of death. Epictetus suggested that humans deal with death by accepting it for what it is and understanding it is inevitable. He said that "Death and pain are essentially just a scary mask and if you look underneath it, you will see that though you are suffering, relief is not far away" and "I must die, but must I die bawling?" The second half of the presentation focuses on this aspect of Epictetus's view. It features paintings and artwork that portrays death as a positive event in life, and includes works of art that tie life and death together as the cycle that it is, as well as images that personify death as gentle, and  paintings of individuals who have accepted their fate of death. Unlike the first section where most of the artwork is based around Christ and his followers, the second half features a much brighter feeling with a variety of different topics. It also has images of death being portrayed as peaceful and not fearful. From beginning to end, this project shows the different ways that human beings approach dealing with death, from the negative, fearful views, to the positive accepting views, and supports the ideas of Epictetus, Lucretius, and other highly respected scholars. 

This image depicts the fear of death by using Christ. Christ is the almighty being, and yet he still feels fear towards the idea of his death. Epictetus wrote "Prepare for death with confidence", something not even Christ could do.
This image features followers of Christ mourning over his death and surrounding his dead body. Lucretius wrote about how people "waste away in never-ending lamentation" when someone dies and this image is precisely that action of Christ's followers lamenting over him.
Death is personified as a gentle being. Though the skeletons represent death, and typically skeletons are frightening. Epictetus said "Death is a scary mask", and these skeletons look frightening, however they are gentle and caring underneath.
This is an image of John Brown prior to his execution. He knew he was going to die, and simply accepted it. Death is a fact of life, and as Nietzsche stated "I have never pondered over questions that are not questions". Death is an inevitable fact, so there is no point in questioning it, and John Brown is an example of accepting death.
This image shows a women with her eyes closed resting peacefully. To me, this image symbolizes death. The women has passed away and is free from all troubles of life. There is no more sorrow, stress, or fear. Unlike most images of death, this exemplifies it as peaceful and without any struggle or pain.
Thoreau wrote "Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is". This painting symbolizes the idea that time is short, and life is short. It is a fact of life that everyone is aware of, and to be able to accept it as the inevitable fate, it will be easier for one to accept death itself.
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Translate with Google