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Fate Worse Than Death / Mythology & Religion

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  • In most varieties of Christianity, Hell is this by definition. What exactly it entails depends on interpretation.
    • The Mark of Cain. In some interpretations/translations of the Book of Genesis, Cain is made immortal by God, which forces him to live forever, because he committed the first murder.
    • In other interpretations, the Mark of Cain was a physical mark, placed upon Cain's forehead, to denote that God himself had doled out Cain's punishment. This mark was to reverse any damage inflicted upon Cain, and instead force it on the assailant sevenfold. Talk about Blessed with Suck.
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    • Yet other interpretations state that while Cain's retribution (or Mark, depending on the translation) was not the only one doled out by The Almighty. A second mark was administered to Cain's descendant Lamech, which reversed any attack upon him seventy-sevenfold!
    • Revelation 6:9 speaks of a time so terrible that people will be trying to commit suicide... and not be able to do it. Some theologians suggest that this means people seeking a means to achieve some kind of invincible immortality in this life through technology will ultimately succeed, but end up regretting their success. Be Careful What You Wish For...
  • Islam is far more explicit about the horrors of Hell for the damned.
  • Norse Mythology has Loki's fate, chained to a rock with the entrails of his slaughtered sons, and tormented by a snake perpetually dripping poisonous saliva into his eyes. Being The Trickster, he escapes after a while... just in time to take part in The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Classical Mythology:
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    • Prometheus was chained to a rock to forever have his ever-regrowing liver eaten by an eagle. Since he was a god, he could not die. Fortunately, he was later freed by Heracles, who took pity on his plight.
    • The Underworld was full of these (a sort of Fate Worse Than Death plus Regular Death). Tantalus killed his son Pelops and tried to feed him to the gods when they came over for dinner. In response, the gods killed him and placed in a pool with water up to his chin and delicious fruit dangling above his head, but whenever he tried to bend down and drink the water or reach up and grab the fruit, the water would drain away and the fruit would be blown just out of reach by a gust of wind (hence the word "tantalise" entered into the vocabulary). Sisyphus, punished for cheating death, was forced to roll an incredibly heavy boulder up a steep slope. When he was about to reach the top, the rock would tumble back down the slope, forcing him to start over. The Danaeids were also punished for murdering their husbands, forced to try and fill a water trough using jars with no bottoms.
      • The only relief that the three mentioned ever got was when Orpheus arrived. The song that he played asking for Eurydice's soul back not only melted Hades's heart, but quenched Tantalus's thirst, halted Sisyphus's boulder, and kept the water inside the jars... until he left.
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    • Atlas, who has to hold the Earth (or the sky, according to The Other Wiki) on his shoulders from the beginning of the world until a few thousand years ago, when the Greek hero Heracles, better known by what the Romans called him (Hercules), builds "the pillars of Heracles" to carry Atlas's burden.
    • The personification of Dawn asked Zeus for eternal life for her lover Tithonus... and forgot to ask for eternal youth for him. Consequently, he got so old and feeble that eventually he turned into a grasshopper.
    • Pirithous and Theseus won the idiot award by trying to carry off Persephone, wife of Hades. Hades invited them to a feast and tried to dissuade them, and when they refused to give up the plan, the bench fused to them. Heracles was able to save Theseus (who was only there to help Pirithous), but Pirithous was trapped there for eternity for his impiety and unquestionable stupidity.
    • Ixion was strapped to a flaming wheel in Tartarus for eternity, in a horrible cross between a stretching rack and being on fire. His crime? Kinslaying, severe violations of host-guest obligations, and trying to rape Hera while a guest of Zeus.
  • In the Fourth Branch of Pedeir Keinc y Mabinogi (Middle Welsh tale, probably 11th century), Gwydion (the Anti-Hero) tells Blodeuedd (a Femme Fatale), "I won't kill you, I'll do that which is worse to you," before turning her into an owl. (He was serially turned into animals as a punishment earlier in the tale, so presumably knows what he's talking about.)
  • While any version of Hell is bad in Buddhism, they are supposed to be places of purification as well as punishment, and damned souls can at least hope to be reborn again someday. However, Buddhism has a special one called Avichi, which is for souls that are so evil, they're kicked out of the reincarnation cycle completely. That only happens to those who commit one of the Five Grave Offenses which is limited to killing an Arhat (an enlightened being), shedding the blood of the Buddha, creating a schism within the Sangha, (a community of pacifist Buddhist monks and nuns), or murdering one of your parents. Most Buddhist monks consider it taboo to publicly condemn a man to Avichi, as it would be making a judgment mortals have no right to make; even the will of gods cannot condemn a man to this Hell. Buddhist dogma specifically states that a sinner forges his own path here.
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