5. The same considerations which led the Ancients to localize the realm of felicity led them also to imagine a place of torment, like the former, fixed, localized, and circumscribed; and, having placed their heaven “on high,” they naturally placed their hell “down below,” that is to say, in the center of the Earth, of which certain dark and gloomy caverns were supposed to be the entrance. The Christians, also, for a long time, placed the region of perdition in the center of the Earth. Nor were these the only analogies between the Pagan and the Christian conceptions of hell.
The hell of the pagans contained, on the one hand, the Elysian Fields, on the other, Tartarus; Olympus, the dwelling-place of the gods and of deified men, was in the “upper regions.” According to the letter of the Gospels, Jesus descended into Hell, into a region below the surface of the Earth, on a mission to rescue the souls who were awaiting his coming. The hell of the Christians, like that of the Pagans, was, therefore, in the beginning, not simply a place of torment, but, like the latter, included “the lower regions.” And the Christian heaven, the abode of the angels and the saints, was also, like the Pagan Olympus, up “on high,” somewhere beyond the region of the stars, which, as previously remarked, was supposed to be limited.