“While life is with us, we must struggle to make our mark so that death finds little it can wipe away."
This one sentence by Pliny explains the concept of immortality amongst the ancient Greeks and Romans as nothing else could.
Stumbling upon this one line while watching a documentary I found it was stunningly accurate and closer to perhaps the truth then anything else, especially because of the looming threat of suicide-bombers these days.
Interestingly, this also points to the fact that as usual Islam had borrowed freely from the Greco-Roman philosophy when the Quran churned out the idea of Shahadah
YUSUFALI: They rejoice in the bounty provided by Allah: And with regard to those left behind, who have not yet joined them (in their bliss), the (Martyrs) glory in the fact that on them is no fear, nor have they (cause to) grieve.
However, the ramifications of such a statement may be difficult to bear. Nonetheless, it must be taken as a metaphorical reference rather then a literal one. It glorifies death, BUT in the name of Allah only. Totally disregarding the fact where it was coming from, interpreted in the current day and age, one must not wonder at the fools who go ahead and blow themselves up to attain this allegory shrouded in the verbosity of the Quran. However much inferior it may sound to the Greeks though.
We strive for some higher objective all the time, and perhaps it is that need to leave our mark in this world that compels us to do so. Like a cat marks its territories with urine, we go a step further and try to leave our mark in our own little way, within our own little world, but with a big boom. Be it by killing others or getting killed in a holy war or in a personal one. We ensure or at least try to ensure immortality one way or another.