Perspectives And Emotions

were prevalent, as well as illustrations in the Ars Moriendi2 of deathbed scenes, grave diggers uprooting bones, and vicious black devils fighting with angels over a corpse or soul. Death was also symbolized in works of art and stories as an Angel, a Rider on a Pale Horse, the Grim Reaper, and the Twin Brother of Sleep. Death was represented more obviously by a skeleton, a mummy, a shrunken body, or an old man or woman, naked or dressed in a shroud, lying in a coffin, grinning or leering, and perhaps carrying a weapon (scythe, sword, dart, bow and arrows, etc.). Other death symbols were coffins, cemeteries, amputated limbs, skulls and crossbones, or more abstract symbols such as winter landscapes, ruins, leafless trees, dead birds, and vultures.

Death has been featured extensively in literature, the oldest known poem in which it figures being the Epic of Gilgamesh. In another famous literary work, the Indian poem Mahabharata, death is characterized as Mara, a beautiful dark-haired woman. In Islam, the god of time and the god of death are one—Zurvan, and in Hebrew literature, death is the angel Sammael. In more modern drama and literature, such as Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal, death is depicted as a pale-faced man in a long, black cloak; and in Carlos Casteneda's Journey to Ixtlan, death is a hunter who stalks human beings.

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