Hell

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File:Underworld.jpg
Medieval illustration of the Mouth of Hell

Hell is, according to many religious beliefs, a place or a state of painful suffering. The English word 'hell' comes from the Teutonic 'Hel', which originally meant "to cover" and later referred to the goddess of the Norse underworld, Helgardh. Compare Anglo-Saxon helan and Latin celare = "to hide".

In many religions, after death, evildoers either suffer eternally or until they have paid for their bad deeds before reincarnation or redemption. In monotheistic religions, hell is often ruled by demons which torment the damned or is simply defined by an utter absence of God or redemptive force. Many monotheists believe in different layers of hell, and that some are sent to purgatory, or otherwise sent to suffer in hell until they repent and seek atonement. Some believe that all sent to hell can accept redemption if they repent and seek atonement, but believe that there will be those who never truly repent in spirit, and even those who reject redemption and curse God for all eternity in spite of this.

In polytheistic religions, the politics of hell can be as complicated as human politics. Many Hellenistic Neopagans believe in Tartarus, which may also be considered a version of Hell.

Origins

File:Dore woodcut Divine Comedy 01.jpg
A vision of hell from Dante’s Divine Comedy. Illustration by Gustave Doré.

Hell, as it exists in the Western popular imagination, has its origins in Hellenized Christianity, particularly taken from adaptation of the Hellenistic afterlife known as Tartarus. Judaism, at least initially, believed in Sheol, a shadowy existence to which all were sent indiscriminately. Sheol may have been little more than a poetic metaphor for death, not really an afterlife at all: see for example Sirach. However, by the third to second century B.C. the idea had grown to encompass a far more complex concept.

The Hebrew Sheol was translated in the Septuagint as 'Hades', the name for the underworld in Greek mythology and is still considered to be distinct from "Hell" by Eastern Orthodox Christians. The Lake of Fire and realm of Eternal Punishment in Hellenistic mythology was in fact Tartarus. Hades was not Hell in Hellenistic mythology, but was rather a form of limbo where the dead went to be judged. The New Testament uses this word, but it also uses the word 'Gehenna', from the valley of Ge-Hinnom, a valley near Jerusalem used as a landfill. Hebrew landfills were very unsanitary and unpleasant when compared to modern landfills; these places were filled with rotting garbage and the Hebrews would periodically burn them down. However, by that point they were generally so large that they would burn for weeks or even months. In other words they were fiery mountains of garbage. The early Christian teaching was that the damned would be burnt in the valley just as the garbage was. (It is ironic to note that the valley of Ge-Hinnom is today, far from being a garbage dump, a public park.) It is argued by theologians opposed to hell but desirous to defend the Bible as a source, that a reference to a place on Earth where rubbish was burnt can not refer to any conscious after-death state.

Punishment for the damned and reward for the saved is a constant theme of early Christianity.

Religious accounts

Hell appears in several mythologies and religions in different guises, and is commonly inhabited by demons and the souls of dead people.

Rabbinic Judaism

Gehenna is fairly well defined in rabbinic literature. It is sometimes translated as "Hell", but this doesn't effectively convey its meaning. In Judaism, Gehenna is not hell, but rather a sort of Purgatory where one is judged based on their life's deeds. The Kabbalah describes it as a "waiting room" (commonly translated as an "entry way") for all souls (not just the wicked). The overwhelming majority of rabbinic thought maintains that people are not in Gehenna forever; the longest that one can be there is said to be 11 months (just short of a full year's cycle). Some consider it a spiritual forge where the soul is purified for its eventual ascent to Olam Habah (heb. עולם הבא; lit. "The world to come", often viewed as analogous to Heaven). This is also mentioned in the Kabbalah, where the soul is described as breaking, like the flame of a candle lighting another: the part of the soul that ascends being pure, and the "unfinished" piece being reborn.

Ancient Greek religion

Another source for the modern idea of 'Hell' is the Greek Tartarus, a place in which conquered gods and other spirits were punished. Tartarus formed part of Hades in Greek mythology, but Hades also included Elysium, a place for the reward for those who lead virtuous lives, whilst others spent their afterlife in the asphodels fields. Like most ancient (pre-Christian) religions, the underworld was not viewed as negatively as it is in Christianity.

Christianity

Popular imagery

In Western Christianity , Hell is a place ruled by the Devil, or Satan, who is popularly depicted as a being or creature who carries a pitchfork, has flaming red skin, horns on his head, and a long thin tail with a triangle shaped barb on it. Hell is often depicted as a place underground, with fire and molten rock. Demons, looking much like smaller versions of the Devil, eternally torment the souls of the dead. Yet this image of hell is largely shaped by children's tales and modern cartoons. Christian theologians (or at least those who believe in the traditional Christian idea of Hell) reject this view: while most do not deny the existence of hell or Satan, the 'popular' image of the Devil has no biblical basis (it may be a corruption of the god Pan), and rather than demons punishing humans, demons themselves are punished in Hell along with the humans led astray by them, by complete separation from God.

Eastern Orthodoxy

For many ancient Christians, Hell was the same "place" as Heaven: living in the presence of God and directly experiencing God's love. Whether this was experienced as pleasure or torment depended on one's disposition towards God. St. Isaac of Syria wrote in Mystic Treatises: "... those who find themselves in Hell will be chastised by the scourge of love. How cruel and bitter this torment of love will be! For those who understand that they have sinned against love, undergo no greater suffering than those produced by the most fearful tortures. The sorrow which takes hold of the heart, which has sinned against love, is more piercing than any other pain. It is not right to say that the sinners in Hell are deprived of the love of God ... But love acts in two ways, as suffering of the reproved, and as joy in the blessed!" This ancient view is still the doctrine of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Roman Catholicism

The present Roman Catholic view of Hell is stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God's merciful love means remaining separated from Him for ever by [one's] own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called 'Hell'."(1033) Thus, Pope John Paul II said (see link below), "The images of hell that Sacred Scripture presents to us must be correctly interpreted. They show the complete frustration and emptiness of life without God. Rather than a place, Hell indicates the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God, the source of all life and joy."

Other Christian denominations

Most Christian groups teach that Hell is eternal. Some, however, believe that Hell is only temporary, and that souls in Hell cease to exist after serving their time there, and others believe there is no conscious Hell at all but the word refers to the decay of Earthly remains in the ground. Both these beliefs are called annihilationism. Others believe that after serving their time in Hell all souls are reconciled to God and admitted to heaven, or ways are found at the time of death of drawing all souls to repentance so that Hell is never experienced. Both these beliefs are called universalism.

Latter-day Saints believe in a concept of temporary hell, commonly called Spirit Prison, for the disembodied spirits of the wicked awaiting resurrection. They also believe in a concept of permanent hell, commonly called Outer Darkness, a place of eternal emptiness after the resurrection for Sons of Perdition, those who are irredeemably evil to their core. While not fully universalist, they do not believe in a permanent state of hell for any soul who is at all susceptible to the light of God. A parallel may be seen here: Even as Hades has Tartarus and the Elysian Fields, so does the lot of the spirits of the dead comprise both Paradise (". . . today shalt thou be with me in Paradise . . . " and Prison (e.g., the abode of the wicked who rejected Noah's preaching referred to in 1 Peter). Latter-day Saints might also believe that as the lake of fire and brimstone in the Revelation of John depicts destruction, and as both death and hell are to be cast into it, that therefore both death and hell must have a permanent end, meaning that outer darkness (Perdition) and Hell are distinct states.

More on the history and description of Hell in Christianity

The Christian idea of Hell is different from the Sheol mentioned in modern Judaism. The nature of Hell is described in the New Testament on several occasions. For example, in Matthew 3:10-12, 5:22 and 29-30, 7:29, 8:12, 22:13 and 33, 25:30 and 41-46, Luke 3:9, 12:5, 13:28, 16:19-28, and the Book of Revelation 12:9, 14:9-11, 19:20, 20:10 and 14-15, 21:8; in the Book of Revelation Hell is also mentioned as the "abyss" and "the Earth".

The Biblical descriptions of Hell tell about a place of darkness, fire, sulphur, an oven of fire, and lakes of fire and sulphur, where weeping, tears, gnashing of teeth and torment are eternal for those souls that will be condemned to live there. Hell is referred to as a place apart from Heaven, and implies that after the end of the world the Earth (or what it becomes) will be Hell, too (as well as all that it is not Heaven).

The population of Hell comprises of the souls of those who died without accepting Christ as their saviour, God's grace, in sin and without repentance. Some consider the fate of righteous people who lived before the time of Christ (thus being non-Christian through no fault of their own) a complication, especially for the many righteous Jews of the Old Testament. In some traditions, these people went straight to Heaven despite not being Christians because Christ had not come and gone yet. In other traditions, they had to wait in Limbo until the Harrowing of Hell during the three days between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection.

According to Western Christian beliefs, the Devil and his angels (demons), who will be in charge of punishing the soul of the sinners also reside in hell. This doctrine is not part of Eastern Orthodox teachings. Matthew 25:41 mentions the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels. According to the Book of Revelation, after the Day Of the Lord soul and body will be united again, and so those who were condemned to Hell will remain there physically, tormented by eternal fire that will never consume them nor be extinguished.

According to Luke 16:19-28 (Lazarus and Dives) nobody can pass from Hell to Heaven or vice versa, and fire is not the only tormentor, thirst being another, and more that are not described; in this biblical passage it is also mentioned that the souls that are in Hell can see those that are in Heaven and vice versa, but nothing is said of the sight of God; those that are in Hell can see the happiness reigning in Heaven, and those in Heaven do not feel compassion for the others in Hell. It should be noted, however, that Jesus tells this story as a parable, and its meaning may not literally define the existence in the afterlife, but instead serve as a lesson about the dangers of wealth and the unwillingness to listen to God.

As light and brightness were associated with God and Heaven, it is not strange that darkness was associated with Hell. Concerning the fire, some scholars speculated that the idea came from the fire consecrated to same Pagan deities like Adramelech, Moloch, etc., to whom children were sacrificed by throwing them into the flames; but other scholars, more recently, speculated that, since Hell is considered an underground place, fire was associated with volcanic eruptions; the idea that volcanoes could be gateways to Hell was present in the mind of the ancient Romans, and later of Icelanders and other European peoples. Some claim that the conditions thought to prevail in Hell are influenced by the generally hot, dry climates found in the cradlelands of Judaism, Christianity and Islam alike; these observers point to the fact that the equivalent of Hell in Norse mythology, known as Niflheim, is pictured as a cold, foggy place (the name itself meaning "home of the fog").

Medieval imagination added cauldrons inside which people will be "cooked" forever by demons and Christian demonology acquired a "terrifying" aspect concerning imagery of Hell. Medieval theologians were keen to portray all manner of hideous tortures, designed to inflict horrific pain upon the eternally-damned inhabitants of Hell.

More recently and to some theologians, the idea of an underground Hell gave place to the conception of an abstract spiritual status in an also intangible plane of existence, which is sometimes associated to a site in an unknown point of the universe or also abstract, but tradition continues referring to Hell as "down", meanwhile religion refers to it as the place of eternal punishment and torment, far from God's presence (2 Thessalonians 1:9).

Jeff Priddy, writing in The Idle Babbler Illustrated (Volume 4, Issue 2), expresses the problem:

The religious and secular man's nightmarish ideas of HELL (that is, of a Christ-managed hothouse where sinners get burned forever) come to them compliments of ... careless translating ... the practice of ignoring separate Greek words.

In 2 Pet. 2:4, God chose the Greek word "Tartaros" (ταρταροω; English transliteration, "Tartarus") to identify the temporary abode of sinning angels. Tartarus holds spirit beings, not humans. and there is not a flame on the premises. The KJV and NIV translators (neither of whose versions have any influence in the expression of Eastern Orthodox doctrine) gave this specific Greek word the English equivalent, "hell".

In Matthew 5:22 (and in several other places), God chose a different Greek word, "Geenna," (English transliteration: "Gehenna") to name a valley on the southwest corner of Jerusalem where the corpses of criminals will be disposed of during the thousand-year kingdom. There are flames here, yes, but the flames cremate the dead (Is. 66:24), they don't torture the living. Most of humanity is not even alive to see Gehenna (Rev. 20:5), let alone be tormented there. The KJV and NIV translators gave this specific Greek word the English equivalent, "hell".

In Luke 16:23 (and in other places), God chose the Greek word, "hades", to describe the state of invisibility; in Greek, the word means "unseen". God uses this word often to describe a person's nonexistence in death: unless spoken of figuratively, a dead person doesn't see anything, hear anything, feel anything, know anything, do anything: hades. Flames, screams, pointy tails and pitchforks are conspicuously absent. All the dead "go" here, not just the wicked. The KJV and NIV translators gave this specific Greek word the English equivalent, "hell".

Priddy goes on to point out that if a (Western) Christian says that someone is in "Hell", that "is a terrible lack of information", because many versions of the Bible indiscriminately use the word "Hell" to describe three different places. If you press the point, and the Christian says that person is in Gehenna, then you could take a plane to Jerusalem and look for the person there. If the claim is that the person is in Tartarus, you can point out that they were never a stubborn, sinning angel who surrendered their sovereignty during the days of Noah (1 Pet. 3:19-20. 2 Pet. 2:4, Jude 6). And if in Hades, you could rejoice that, like Christ (Acts 2:3 l), David (Ps. 16: 10), and Jacob (Gn. 37:35) before him, the person has ceased from their troubles and sufferings (Jb. 3:11-19), and now rests, as if asleep (Jn. 11:11,14). However, given the perfectly natural evolution of concepts over a long period of time, examples such as Sheol, provide us with a good example of how ideas can begin with a simple meaning - "the grave" - and morph into a far larger concept - a place of eternal torment.

Words in the Bible, which are translated into the word "hell"

The Greek words "Hades" and "Gehenna" are sometimes translated into the word "hell", though the concepts are dissimilar. Martin Luther, for example, translated the word "Hades" five times as the German word for "hell" (Hölle) (for example Matthew 16,18), and twice as "the dead", twice as the "world of the dead", and once as "his kingdom" (all in German). "Gehenna" was translated by Martin Luther eight times as "hell" (for example: Matthew 5,22,29,30; 18,9; Mark 9,43,45; and so on) and four times as "hellish".

Martin Luther was the first to use the German word for "hell" in a translation of the Bible. In Norse mythology the underworld was a cold, monotonous place, which was commanded by the goddess Hel. Later the place was called Hel, too.

Newer translations of the Bible translate "Hades" or "Sheol" into the words "world of dead", "underworld", "grave", "crypt" or similar, but still translate the word "Gehenna" into the word "hell".

The word "Hades" of the New Testament is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word "Sheol" of the Old Testament (Ap. 2,27, Psalm 16,10). What happens in Hades, or rather Sheol, Ecclesiastes tells us: "for in the Sheol, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom." (Ecclesiastes 9,10) and "For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten. " (Ecclesiastes 9,5; see also Psalm 89,49; 139,8; Numbers 16,30). "The Lord brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the Sheol and raises up. " (1. Samuel 2,6). The souls of all human beings are going to Hades, whether they believe or not (Joh. 5,28-29; Job 3,11-19, 14,13; Ez 32,18-32; Ps. 31,17; Dan. 12,2).

Geenna (or Gehenna) is the name of a real place. It comes from Hebrew and means "Gorge of Hinnom (Ge-Hinnom)". This gorge can still be visited today near Jerusalem. In the time of the Old Testament it was a place where children were sacrificed to the Ammonite god Molech (2 Kings 23,10). That cultic practice was, according to the Old Testament, imitated by King Solomon in the 10th Century B.C.E. and under the leadership of king Manasseh in the 7th Century B.C.E. and in times of crisis until the time of exile of the Jews in Babylon (6th Century B.C.E.). The prophet Jeremiah, who condemned that cult strictly, called the valley the "gorge of killing" (Jeremiah 7,31-32; 19,5-9). Gehenna became later a central garbage dump, to stop the practice of child sacrifice. At the turn of the 1st Century C.E. the gorge was used also to burn the dead bodies of criminals after their execution. The imagination of burning dead bodies probably inspired Jewish, and later Christian theologists to translate that place into the word "hell".

The sea of fire after the last tribunal in Revelation 20,14 isn't translated into the word "hell", but sometimes gets the connotations of "hell". In that sea of fire are thrown the beast, the devil, the false prophet, and Hell (Hades) itself, along with evil-doers, according to Revelation 20,12-15. "And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for aeons of aeons." (Revelation 20,10)

Islam

The Muslim belief in jahannam (in arabic: جهنم) (similar to Hebrew ge-hinnom, as Arabic and Hebrew are closely related languages) resembles that of other Abrahamic religions. In the Qur'an, the holy book of Islam, there are literal descriptions of the condemned in a fiery Hell, as contrasted to the garden-like Paradise enjoyed by righteous believers.

The meaning of jahannam is to do with hotness (whereas in Hebrew Gehenna is said to mean a narrow deep valley). The word for paradise is "jannath" which literally means "paradise".

In addition, Heaven and Hell are split into many levels depending on the actions taken in life, where punishment is given depending on the level of evil done in life, and good is separated into other levels depending on how well you followed Allah while alive.

There is an equal number of mentions of both hell and paradise in the Qur'an.

The Qur'an also says that those who are damned to hell are not damned forever, but instead for an indefinite period of time. When Judgement Day comes, the formerly damned will be judged as to whether or not they may enter into Paradise.

Chinese and Japanese religions

The structure of Hell is remarkably complex in many Chinese and Japanese religions. The ruler of Hell has to deal with politics, just as human rulers do. Hell is the subject of many folk stories and manga. In many such stories, people in hell are able to die again, but no one seems to care about the apparent contradiction. (Note: the strong influence of Buddhism (see below) on Chinese and Japanese Hells means that this is not necessarily a contradiction.)

See Feng Du for more information on Chinese Hell.

Unlike some opinions on Biblical, Jewish and Islamic Hell, the Chinese depiction of Hell doesn't necessarily mean a long time suffering for those who enter Hell, nor does it mean that person is bad. The Chinese view Hell as similar to a present day passport or immigration control station. In a Chinese funeral, they burn a lot of Hell Bank Notes for the dead. With this Hell money, the dead person can bribe the ruler of Hell, and spend the rest of the money either in Hell or in Heaven.

Hinduism

In Hinduism, there are contradictions as to whether or not there is a hell. For some it is a metaphor for a conscience. But in Mahabharata there is a mention of the Pandavas and the Kauravas going to hell. Hells are also described in various Puranas and other scriptures.

It is believed that people who commit 'paap' (sin) go to hell and have to go through the punishments in accordance to the sins they committed.

The god Yama, who is also the god of death, is the king of hell. The detailed accounts of all the sins committed by an individual are supposed to be kept by Chitragupta who is the record keeper in Yama's court. Chitragupta reads out the sins committed and Yama orders the appropriate punishments to be given to the individuals. These punishments include dipping in boiling oil, burning in fire, torture using various weapons etc. in various hells. Individuals who finish their quota of the punishments are reborn according to their karma.

Tour of Vedic universe

Buddhism

Buddhism acknowledges several hells, which are places of great suffering for those who commit evil actions, such as cold hells and hot hells. Like all the different realms within cyclic existence, an existence in hell is temporary for its inhabitants. Those with sufficiently negative karma are reborn there, where they stay until their specific negative karma has been used up, at which point they are reborn in another realm, such as that of humans, of hungry ghosts, of animals, of asuras, of devas, or of demons all according to the individual's karma.

Bahá'í Faith

Bahá'ís do not accept Hell as a place, but rather as a state of being. "Heaven is nearness to Me and Hell is separation from Me." – Bahá'u'lláh

Taoism

Taoism has a slightly nebulous version of Hell. Some claim it has no Hell at all, but - particularly in its home country China - popular belief endows Taoist Hell with many deities and spirits who punish sin in a variety of horrible ways. (See Feng Du.)

Hell in Literature

Many of the great epics of European literature include episodes that occur in Hell. In the Roman poet Virgil's Latin epic, the Aeneid, Aeneas descends into Dis (the underworld) to visit his father's spirit. The underworld is only vaguely described, with one unexplored path leading to the punishments of Tartarus, while the other leads through Erebus and the Elysian Fields.

In his Divina commedia ('Divine comedy'; set in the year 1300), Dante Alighieri employed the conceit of taking Virgil as his guide through Inferno (and then, in the second cantiche, up the mountain of Purgatorio). Virgil himself is not comdemned to Hell in Dante's poem but is rather, as a virtuous pagan, confined to Limbo just outside its gates. The geography of Hell is very elaborately laid out in this work, with nine concentric rings leading deeper into the Earth and deeper into the various punishments of Hell, until, at the center of the world, Dante finds Satan himself trapped in the frozen lake of Cocytus. A small tunnel leads past Satan and out to the other side of the world, at the base of the Mount of Purgatory.

John Milton's Paradise Lost (1668) opens with the fallen angels, including their leader Satan, waking up in Hell after having been defeated in the war in heaven and the action returns there at several points throughout the poem. The nature of Hell as a place of punishment, as portrayed by Dante, is not explored here; instead, Hell is the abode of the demons, and the passive prison from which they plot their revenge upon Heaven through the corruption of the human race.

C.S. Lewis's The Great Divorce (1945) borrowed inspiration from the Divine Comedy as the narrator is likewise guided through Hell and Heaven. Hell is portrayed here as an endless, desolate twilight city upon which night is imperceptibly sinking. The night is actually the Apocalypse, and it heralds the arrival of the demons after their judgement. Before the night comes, anyone can escape Hell if they leave behind their former selves and accept Heaven's offer, and a journey to Heaven reveals that Hell is infinitely small; it is nothing more or less than what happens to a soul that turns away from God and into itself.

Hell in entertainment and other popular culture

Philip José Farmer in his riverworld series (1971) created perhaps the best science fiction depiction of a "man" made hell created with advanced technology that ensures immortality and sustenance but allows suffering. While it is never meant to be hell it quickly becomes hellish because the good and evil are both repeatedly resurrected. Immortal and immoral Dictators end up running many areas. It may be called a humanist model of hell. Yet the author carefully avoids over using the term hell itself in these science fictions.

"What dreams may come", a 1998 movie that won an academy award for its depiction of both heaven and hell as being the subjective creations of the individuals in them. An essentially new age model of heaven, hell and reincarnation.

The BBC Radio 4 comedy series Old Harry's Game is set in Hell. It was written by Andy Hamilton who also stars as Satan.

In the television show Futurama, the characters go to Robot Hell on occasion, where the Robot Devil and other evil robots reside. Bender was once put in there to be tormented, just like in Hell, but he escapes. Fry and Bender return to make Fry better at the holophonor, and doing so means he needs the Robot Devil's hands. The Robot Devil's little deal actually backfires on him instead of Fry, so he wants his robot hands back. The part with the Robot Devil's hands took place on the last episode of Futurama.

In many episodes of the television show South Park, there appears a Satan character who runs the Hell. On many occasions he is accompanied by the Saddam Hussein, who ironically seems to be even more malicious than the Satan itself.

In a deleted scene from the 1999 theatrical theological comedy Dogma, the ex-Muse Azrael (played by actor Jason Lee) explains that there have been past and current "versions" of Hell. When Hell was first formed it was meant to hold Lucifer and the rebel angels and was merely a place devoid of the presence of God. To those who had previously been in the presence of God, this was punishment enough. Azrael goes on to say that when humanity was created, Hell was infected with a disease of sorts. Believing that God could never forgive their sins, many humans came to Hell and subconsciously demanded to be actively punished, although that was not their due. Slowly but surely (and reminiscent of the doctrine of responsibility assumption), Hell became a "suffering pit" to contain all these gluttons for punishment. According to Azrael, Hell is far more horrifying for the fallen angels residing there than for the Damned themselves, as the angels not only have to endure the absence of God, but also the unending howls of the Damned as they undergo torture essentially at their own hands. This concept of Hell had appeared previously in Neil Gaiman's successful Sandman series of graphic novels.

The 2004 Insane Clown Posse album "The Wraith: Hell's Pit" is a concept album about Hell.

The first Fear Effect game deals extensively with the Chinese concept of hell, replete with its aforementioned political ramifications. Several of the later levels actually take place in the Chinese hell.

The famous PC game series Doom also involves the concept of Hell, but with a science-fiction twist, as a future teleportation experiment accidentally opens a gate to Hell. Hell is treated in the Christian conception, replete with Satanic symbols and corporeal demons, as a parallel universe of crimson skies, black mountains and oceans of fire.

The first game in the Quake computer game series involves an invasion by forces from Hell.

In the comic book series Hellboy by award-winning artist Mike Mignola, Hell is shown in the two page story "Pancakes" (1999 Dark Horse Presents Annual) to be a dark, alternate dimension filled with flames and demons and where the infernal capital city of Pandemonium resides. In issue one "Seed of Destruction" the Nazis with aid of the mad monk Rasputin successfully breach the transdimensional boundary of Hell via magic and call forth the infant Hellboy so that he may bring about the end of the world. They are stopped, however, by the Allied Forces who also rescue Hellboy and raise him.

The 2005 Warner Bros. film Constantine depicts as graphic a version of the traditional Christian version of Hell as can be found in cinema: it shows a parallel plane with many of the same buildings and structures as the normal world, but twisted, ruined and perpetually engulfed in hellfire. This movie is based on the DC/Vertigo comic series Hellblazer.

In the first of the Diablo series of games, hell is portrayed as a pit deep under the ground largely characterized as a place of suffering, as the bodies of hundreds of apparently tortured people reside there. The game manual refers to this place as actually part of the mortal realm whose barriers with the metaphysical Hell have weakened, causing it to take on hellish attributes combined with more worldly ones. None of the apparently tortured bodies show any signs of life or torment, and as such may simply be the Decor that Diablo, the lord of Terror, has chosen for his home in the mortal world. This fits with the view of the actual Hell as portrayed in Diablo II, which features Hell as a bleak landscape populated by grotesque monsters and souls in active torment.

Non-religious context

The word "Hell" used away from its religious context was long considered to be profanity, particularly in North America. Although its use was commonplace in everyday speech and on television by the 1970s, many people still consider it somewhat rude or inappropriate language, particularly involving children.[1] Many, particularly among religious circles and in certain sensitive environments, still avoid casual usage of the word. In British English and some parts of North America, the word has fallen into common use and is not considered profane; often considered to be a safer and less offensive alternative to swearing.

Euphemistic ways of saying hell

"Hell" is sometimes "pronounced" "H-E-double-hockey-sticks", "H-E-double-toothpicks", "heck" or "Sam Hill" ("What the Sam Hill is going on here?"). Another common euphemism for Hell is "The Other Place" (which is also the formal term used in the UK parliament to refer to the House of Lords when a member of the House of Commons, and vice-versa). Example: "Gosh will darn you to heck and tarnation" in place of "God will damn you to hell and eternal damnation."

Language edits

In the Cartoon Network dubbed broadcast of the anime series Rurouni Kenshin, edits were made in the dialogue to change "hell" to "Hades" in some cases. Example: "The flames of hell (Hades) have been burning in my body for every single day since then." This edit was only used when talking about hell. "What the hell?" was changed to "What the heck?"
In the popular anime Dragon Ball Z, the central character Goku spends an episode traveling through Hell. He is tormented and teased by big ogre-like monsters wearing shirts with HELL written clearly in large letters. In the American version produced by Saban, the shirts were digitally altered to spell HFIL by removing the lower bars of the two middle letters. This new place was named Home For Infinite Losers (this edit was later removed when Funimation redubbed those episodes for their own DVD release). Vegeta also says "See you in Hell" in the Freeza saga.

Cold day in hell

Another example of common use of "hell" in daily language, a Cold Day in Hell is a paradox and an idiom, since most imagery of hell depicts it as hot and fiery, such as in the Bible in Revelation, where sinners are cast into a lake of fire. Similar or related phrases include: "Over my dead body," "When hell freezes over," "A snowball's chance in hell," "When the devil goes ice-skating," and "When pigs fly."

Interestingly, Cocytus, the bottom circle of Hell in Dante's Divine Comedy, is depicted as an ice-covered lake.


See also

External links

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