The belief that on death, some aspect of us—usually identified with the ‘soul’ (see psyche)—survives to enter another body, is connected with the idea of immortality, supplying one possible destination for the disembodied soul. It is esp. associated with Pythagoreans (see pythagoras ); in the 5th cent. it is attested in Pindar, Empedocles, and Herodotus, who claims, probably wrongly, that Greeks borrowed it from Egypt). For Pythagoreans, the transmigrating entity retains its individual identity, but Plato, who inherited the general idea from the Pythagoreans, specifies that souls do not remember previous bodily existences. Caesar reports that the Gallic Druids (see religion, celtic) believe that ‘souls do not perish, but after death pass from (their original owners) to others’.
Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies.