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(1,595 words)

Author(s): Herzog, Markwart
1. The word ‘hell’ (from Old English hel, in turn from helan, ‘to cover,’ ‘to conceal’) in Germanic languages denotes a ‘hidden’ realm of the dead. The corresponding words in romance languages mean, more precisely, a ‘subterranean realm’ (Lat., infernum, akin to Eng. ‘infernal’; Fr., enfers). In the earliest traditions, the underworld is the region where all of the dead continue their existence—where earthly existence endures in reduced format (Heb., sheol; ancient Gk., hades [Homer]). Punishment and retribution are not yet the foremost connotations. A further basic …