Description: Abstract: In the modern literature, the so-called 'vision of Er,' told by Plato, and the 'vision of Thespesius,' recorded by Plutarch, have sometimes been cited as examples of ancient near-death experiences (NDEs). However, in a recent study, classicist Jan Bremmer (2002) impugned this interpretation. In this article, I offer a fresh analysis of these two texts that challenges Bremmer's stance and that vindicates the similarity between the ancient reports and modern NDEs. The vision of Er emerges as the oldest known direct account of an NDE. I add to these cases Plutarch's description of the 'vision of Timarchus' as an example of an ancient NDE provoked by extreme isolation. Comparison of these reports of NDEs from antiquity with modern analogues suggests a few additional characteristic traits of NDEs.
Date: Summer 2009
Creator: van der Sluijs, Marinus
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Partner: UNT Libraries