In many mythological, folklore and religious traditions, hell is a place of eternal torment in an afterlife, often after resurrection. It is viewed by most Abrahamic traditions as a place of punishment. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as eternal destinations. Religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations. Typically these traditions locate hell in another dimension or under the Earth's surface and often include entrances to Hell from the land of the living. Other afterlife destinations include Heaven, Purgatory, Paradise, and Limbo.
Other traditions, which do not conceive of the afterlife as a place of punishment or reward, merely describe hell as an abode of the dead, a neutral place located under the surface of Earth (for example, see sheol and Hades). Modern understandings of hells often depict them abstractly, as a state of loss rather than as fiery torture literally underground, but this view of the concept of a hell can, in fact, be traced back into the ancient and medieval periods as well. Hell is sometimes portrayed as populated with demons who torment those dwelling there. Many are ruled by a death god such as Nergal, Hades, Hel, Enma or the Devil. The modern English word Hell is derived from Old English hel, helle (about 725 AD to refer to a nether world of the dead) reaching into the Anglo-Saxon pagan period, and ultimately from Proto-Germanic *halja, meaning "one who covers up or hides something". The word has cognates in related Germanic languages such as Old Frisian helle, hille, Old Saxon hellja, Middle Dutch helle (modern Dutch hel), Old High German helle (Modern German Hölle), Danish, Norwegian and Swedish helvede/helvete (hel + Old Norse vitti, "punishment" whence the Icelandic víti "hell"), and Gothic halja. Subsequently, the word was used to transfer a pagan concept to Christian theology and its vocabulary (however, for the...
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