previous next

Funus

A funeral, so termed because, in ancient times, the Romans were buried by torch light, twisted ropes (funalia) smeared with pitch being carried by the mourners for the purpose (Isidor. Orig. xi. 2, 34; Donat. ad Terent. Andr. i. 1, 81). Under this title, it is here intended to give an account of the burial rites of the Greeks and Romans. The tombs will be explained in the article Sepulcrum.


1. Greek

The Greeks attached great importance to the burial of the dead. They believed that souls could not enter the Elysian Fields till their bodies had been buried; and accordingly we find the shade of Elpenor in the Odyssey (xi. 66, etc.) earnestly imploring Odysseus to bury his body. So strong was this feeling among the Greeks that it was considered a religious duty to throw earth upon a dead body which a person might happen to find unburied (Hor. Carm. i. 28, 36); and among the Athenians, those children who were released from all other obligations to unworthy parents were nevertheless bound to bury them (c. Timarch. 14). The neglect of burying one's relatives is frequently mentioned by the orators as a grave charge against the moral character of a man, since the burial of the body by the relations of the dead was considered a religious duty by the universal law of the Greeks. The common expressions for the funeral rites, τὰ δίκαια, νόμιμα or νομιζόμενα, προσήκοντα, show that the dead had, as it were, a legal and moral claim to burial.

At the moment of death the eyes and mouth were closed by one of those present ( Phaed. 118). According to Lucian, the obolus to serve as Charon 's fare was at once placed in the mouth of the corpse. This coin was also called δανάκη (Hesych. s. v.). The custom is first mentioned by Aristophanes ( Frogs, 139), and does not appear to have been in use at a very early date. Confirmation of the practice is given by actual discoveries, for coins are frequently found in Greek tombs, and in some between the teeth of the skeleton. The body was then washed (Eurip. Phoen. 1319, 1667), anointed with perfumes, and clothed in rich garments, generally white in colour. These were buried or burned with the body, but the number of them was limited by a law of Solon (Plut. Sol. 21). A wreath of flowers was placed upon the head (Eurip. Phoen. 1632). Golden wreaths, in imitation of laurel or other foliage, were sometimes used, and have been found in graves.

The corpse, thus prepared, was laid out (πρόθεσις, προτίθεσθαι) on a bed (κλίνη), which appears to have been of the ordinary kind, with a pillow (προσκεφάλαιον) for supporting the head and back (c. Eratosth. 18). By a law of Solon it was ordered that the πρόθεσις should take place inside the house (Lex ap. Demosth. c. Macart. p. 1071.62). As among the Romans, the feet were turned towards the door (Hom. Il. xix. 212). Vases of a special kind (λήκυθοι), probably containing perfumes, were placed beside the body (Ar. Eccl. 1032; Ar. Eccl., 538). These vases were also buried with the coffin, and a large number of them have been found in graves in Attica. A few of them are in the ordinary black and red figured styles, but the greater number are of a special ware of great beauty, manufactured for funeral purposes. In this ware the ground is white, and scenes are painted upon it in bright colours, in a freer and less rigid style than in the vases with red or black figures. See E. Pottier, Étude sur les Lécythes Blancs Attiques, à Représentations Funéraires (Paris, 1883); Benndorf, Griechische und sicilische Vasenbilder (Berlin, 1869); and the article Vas. A honey-cake (μελιτοῦττα), intended as a sop for Cerberus, was also placed by the side of the corpse (Aristoph. Lys. 601). Before the door, a vessel of water was placed (ἀρδάνιον), in order that persons who had been in the house might purify themselves from the pollution of death by sprinkling water on their persons (Eurip. Alc. 98).

The near relatives of the deceased assembled round the bed on which he was laid, and uttered loud lamentations. Although more violent signs of grief were forbidden by Solon (Plut. Sol. 21), we find that Lucian (De Luctu, 12) mentions as accompaniments of the πρόθεσις, not only groaning and wailing, but also beating of breasts, tearing of hair, laceration of cheeks, rending of garments, and sprinkling of ashes upon the head. It was perhaps with the object of limiting the time for these excesses of grief that Solon ordained that the burial should take place on the day after the πρόθεσις, before sunrise, and that Plato (Leges, xii. 959 A) declared that the πρόθεσις should not last longer than was necessary to show that death had really taken place. It appears that singers were hired to lead the mourning chant at the πρόθεσις (Lucian, De Luctu, 20).

The accompanying illustration, representing the πρόθεσις, is taken from Pottier. The corpse lies

The πρόθεσις. (From a Greek vase.)

upon a couch, and is covered with a rich garment. The head alone is unveiled, and is surrounded with a fillet (ταινία). Two female figures stand beside the couch, with gestures of grief. One of them carries a tray or basket, across which two fillets are laid. Other fillets are placed across the couch. In the background is a mirror, or fan, perhaps intended for the keeping away of flies (cf. Dio Cass. lxxiv. 4, 2).

The ἐκφορά. (From a stamped terra-cotta plaque found at the Piraeus.)

The funeral (ἐκφορά, ἐκφέρειν) took place legally, as has been already remarked, on the day following the πρόθεσις. It might, however, be put off several days to allow of the arrival of distant friends ( Timol. 39). The early morning was the usual time (Leges, xii. 960 A). The bier was borne either by hired bearers (νεκροφόροι, Poll.vii. 195), or, in cases where it was decided to honour the dead, by specially selected citizens ( Timol. 39). The men walked before the corpse and the women behind, and it appears that musicians were hired to play mournful tunes on the flute and sing dirges (θρῆνοι) at the ἐκφορά as well as at the πρόθεσις. Those who accompanied the funeral wore mourning garments of a black or dark colour (Eurip. Alc. 427). The head was also shaved or the hair cut as a sign of grief (Homer Od. iv. 197; Il. xxiii. 46 Il., 135 Il., 141 Il., 146; Bion. Idyll. i. 81).

Representations of the ἐκφορά are rare. The foregoing illustration represents a stamped terracotta plaque found at the Piraeus (in the collection of M. Rayet, Convoi Funèbre, No. 75). The corpse lies upon a couch. The head is bare; the rest of the body covered. The couch is placed upon a car drawn by two horses, though mules were oftener used. Mourners accompany it with gestures of grief. A female attendant carries upon her head a vessel, probably to serve for libations. Another attendant plays upon the double flute.

It was the custom, at Athens at any rate, to hold public funerals for those who had fallen in war. Thucydides (ii. 34) describes with some minuteness the proceedings usual on such occasions. The πρόθεσις of the bones took place on a platform (or perhaps in a booth or tent) erected for the purpose in some public place. On the day of the funerals, coffins of cypress wood, one for each tribe, were carried upon wagons. Each coffin contained the bones of the members of the tribe to which it was assigned. An empty couch, adorned as for a funeral, was borne in the procession to represent those whose bodies had not been found. The procession was accompanied by any citizens and aliens who wished to attend, and by women who were related to those who had fallen. In Greece, funeral orations were pronounced only at public funerals of the kind described, not, as at Rome, over individuals, even though they were specially distinguished (Dion. Hal. v. 17). This custom seems to have arisen about the time of the Persian Wars. In other respects the procedure at a public funeral does not seem to have differed from that in use at private burials.

In spite of the statement of Lucian (De Luctu, 21) that the Greeks burned their dead and the Persians buried them, it is certain, both from literary evidence and also from the excavation of tombs, that burning and burying were both practised by the Greeks. The word θάπτειν is used of the burial of the ashes after cremation, but κατορύττειν refers only to the burial of an unburned body. We hear of burial also among the Spartans (Plut. Lyc. 27; Thuc.i. 134). In Homer there is no mention of any burial without burning; but in graves at Mycenae, skeletons have been found which showed no traces of fire. Evidence both of burning and burying has been found in graves of a

Funeral Pyre.

later date in many parts of the Greek world. See Hermann-Blümner, Privatalterth. p. 375.

The pile of wood (πυρά) upon which the body was burned was sometimes erected over the grave in which the ashes were to be buried. There is a full description of cremation in the Homeric period in Iliad (xxiii. 161 foll.), where Achilles celebrates the funeral of Patroclus. The pyre was made a hundred feet in length and breadth, and the bodies of sheep, oxen, horses, dogs, and twelve Trojan captives were placed upon it. Honey and perfumes were also poured upon it before it was lighted. When the pyre had burned down, the remains of the fire were quenched with wine, and the relatives and friends collected the bones or ashes ( Il. xxiv. 791). The remains thus collected were placed in a receptacle sometimes of gold, but generally of a less precious material, and buried. A description of these receptacles, of the other articles placed in the tomb, and of the tomb itself will be found in the article Sepulcrum.

When bodies were buried without previous cremation, they were generally placed in coffins, which were called by various names, as σοροί, πύελο<*>, ληνοί, λάρνακες, δροῖται, though some of these names were also applied to the urns in which the bones were collected. For further information upon this point, see the article Sepulcrum.

Immediately after the funeral was over, the relatives partook of a feast which was called περίδειπνον or νεκρόδειπνον (Lucian, De Luctu, 24). It was the custom that this feast should be given at the house of the nearest relative (Demosth. De Cor. p. 321.355).

Funeral Banquet. (From a bas-relief;
Marmora Oxon.

Other ceremonies were performed on the third, the ninth, and the thirtieth days after the funeral, and were called respectively τρίτα, ἔνατα, and τριακάς or τριακάδες (Poll.viii. 146). The rites on the thirtieth day (Poll.i. 66; Poll. iii. 102) included a repetition of the funeral feast.

It was also the custom to bring offerings to the tomb on certain days in each year (Plato, De Leg. iv. 717 E). Herodotus mentions that these annual sacrifices to the dead were called γενέσια (iv. 26), from which it is inferred that they were offered on the birthday of the deceased (cf. Diog. Laert. x. 18). The name νεκύσια was also used in the same sense. The ceremonies which were performed at these stated intervals might be used at any other time, if for some reason it was necessary to appease the departed spirit. The word ἐναγίζειν was used for the act of offering, ἐναγίσματα for the things offered on these occasions. These consisted of libations (χοαί) of wine, oil, milk, honey mixed with water or milk (Aesch. Pers. 609 foll.), which were poured upon the ground (γάποτοι, Aesch. Pers. 621). Elaborate banquets were sometimes prepared, burned in honour of the dead, and buried in a trench (Lucian, Char. 22). Wreaths

The
Conclamatio
, or lamentation for the dead. (From a Roman relief.)

were also placed upon the grave-stones, and they were anointed with perfumes.

The period of mourning varied in length at different places. At Athens the τριακάς seems to have ended it on the thirtieth day after the funeral (Lysias, De Caede Erat. 14). At Sparta it lasted only eleven days (Plut. Lyc. 27).

Certain special rites were used in particular cases. A spear was carried in front of the body of any person who had died a violent death, as a symbol of the revenge which was to follow the murderer (Eurip. Troad. 1148). In the case of those who had committed suicide, the hand which had done the deed was cut off and buried separately (in Ctes. 244). Certain criminals, who were put to death by the State, were also deprived of burial, which was considered to be an additional punishment (Plut. Them. 22; Thuc.i. 134). The bodies of those persons who had been struck by lightning were regarded as sacred (ἱεροὶ νεκροί); they were not buried with others (Eurip. Suppl. 935), but usually on the spot where they had been struck (Oneirocr. ii. 9, p. 146).

It has been already mentioned that in the public funerals of those killed in war, an empty couch was carried in the procession to represent those whose bodies had not been found. In other cases, where a person was supposed to be dead, though his body was not found, funeral rites were performed for him (Eurip. Hel. 1241 foll.). If such a person was afterwards found to be alive, he was considered impure, and was not allowed to enter temples till certain rites had been performed. These rites consisted in a symbolism of birth and the ceremonies connected with it. The δευτερόποτμος or ὑστερόποτμος was washed, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and fed with milk. Having been thus born again into life, he was freed from his impurity (Q. R. 5).


2. Roman

Among the Romans also the burial of the dead was a most solemn duty. It was incumbent upon any one who found an unburied body at least to cast earth upon it three times (Homer Od. i. 28). If no funeral rites had been performed, the soul of the dead man could not be received among the shades, but wandered homeless upon the earth (Tertull. De Anim. 56).

A near relative of the dying person caught the last breath in his mouth (Verg. Aen. iv. 684). As soon as he was dead his eyes were closed by one of those present (Lucan. Phars. iii. 740). Then followed the conclamatio, variously explained as

  • 1. a cry in articulo mortis, which seems probable from Propertius (v. 7, 23; cf. Ovid, Trist. iii. 3, 43)
  • 2. the recall of the dead by uttering his or her name three times, in order to ascertain the fact of death if there was no answer—a custom still in use at the death-bed of a Pope;
  • 3. as commonly understood, the lamentation for the dead when there was no longer any possibility of doubt. The mourners called repeatedly the name of the deceased, with loud cries, and exclamations such as vale (Lucan, Phars. ii. 22; Catullus, ci.; Ovid, Met. x. 62, Fasti, iv, 852).

The body was then washed with warm water and anointed with perfumes and spices (Pers. iii. 103). That this took place after the conclamatio is learned from Ammianus Marcellinus (xxx. 10). The corpse was then clothed either in the toga (Juv.iii. 173 with Mayor's note), or in the state robes of any office which had been held by the deceased (Livy, xxxiv. 7; Polyb. vi. 53). The garments in which the corpse was clothed were sometimes splendid and costly (vestes purpureae, Verg. Aen. vi. 221; pretiosae, Val. Max. v. 5, 4). Precious ornaments were often added. Rings, for example, are often found in graves, and we learn from Propertius (iv. 7, 9) that they were sometimes burned with the body. Flowers were also used for the adornment of the couch on which the corpse was laid; and a censer (acerra) was placed beside it (Epit. p. 18). The following illustration from a Roman relief in the Lateran Museum (Baumeister, p. 239) represents the lectus funebris, on which the corpse of a woman lies dressed. Two women mourners (praeficae) stand behind, and by their side a man in the act of putting a garland on the head of the corpse. On each side of the lectus funebris is a torch. On the left side is a woman blowing the flute, and above another with folded hands; on the right side sit three women, wearing the pilleus (probably manumitted slaves); below is the family of the deceased. Among the Romans, as among the Greeks, it was customary to place a small coin in the mouth of the deceased, for the purpose of paying Charon 's passage-money.

The Lectus Funebris. (Lateran Museum, Rome.)

This is alluded to by Juvenal (iii. 267) and Propertius (iv. 11, 7), but not by earlier writers. Coins, however, have been found in graves of an earlier date than the Second Punic War (C. I. L. i. p. 27); and in graves at Praenesté, dating from the third century B.C., coins were actually found in the mouths of the skeletons (C. I. L. i. 28). In imperial times the practice was common.

The preparations necessary for the due laying out of the body were performed by the pollinctores (Plaut. Asin. v. 2, 60), who probably took the cast of the dead man's face, from which the wax imago was made, to be kept in the atrium of the house by his descendants, and used in funeral processions in a way shortly to be described. The pollinctor was furnished by the libitinarius or undertaker, who entered into a contract for conducting the whole funeral. The latter got his name from the fact that he exercised his business at the temple or grove of Libitina, the goddess of corpses and funerals (Plut. Num. 12.1; Quaest. Rom. 23). Deaths were also registered at this temple (Suet. Ner. 39), and the offering called lucar Libitinae was made. See Lucar.

When the body had been thus prepared and adorned, it was laid upon a couch of state, generally in the atrium of the house, with the feet towards the door (Pers. iii. 105). Outside the door of the house were placed branches of cypress or pine (ad Aen. iii. 64), for the purpose of warning those who might be polluted by entering a house in which was a corpse. The cypress was apparently only used by those of good position. We are told by Servius (ad Aen. v. 64) that the corpse lay in state for seven days before burial. This can only have been the case in exceptional circumstances, when some form of embalming was used.

Funerals were conducted by the family of the deceased (funus privatum), except in cases where a public funeral (funus publicum) was voted, either by the Senate (Cic. Phil. ix. 7) or in provincial towns by the decuriones, as a mark of honour or respect to the deceased. This honour was paid in the case of foreign kings who died in Italy (Val. Max. v. 1, 1); and men who had fallen in the service of their country (Val. Max. v. 2, 10).

A public invitation was given to all important funerals by a herald (praeco). Hence the phrases funus indicere, funus indictivum (Iul. 84; De Leg. ii. 24, 61). The formula of invitation has been preserved: “Ollus Quiris Leto Datus. Exsequias, Quibus est commodum, ire iam tempus est. Ollus ex aedibus effertur.” (Fest. p. 254 d, Fest. 34.Translaticium funus is used for an unceremonious burial (Suet. Ner. 33).

In ancient times all funerals took place by night (ad Aen. xi. 143); in later times only those of children ( Serv. l. c.), and poor people whose means did not admit of sufficient display for the day-time (Mart.viii. 75). The torches with which funerals were always accompanied were probably a relic of burial by night, though no doubt they also served for lighting the pyre.

An opportunity for the display of splendour was given by the funeral procession, and was so largely used by families of wealth and position that sumptuary laws to regulate such expenses are found among the Tables of the Decemviri (De Leg. ii. 23, 59) and the enactments of Sulla (Plut. Sull. 35). The order of the funeral procession was regulated by the designator or dissignator, whose attendants were dressed in black. The order in which the various parts of the procession came is uncertain, but it is generally supposed that at the head of it were the musicians (siticines), who made use of tubae, tibiae, and cornua. The number of tibicines was by the Twelve Tables limited to ten (De Leg. ii. 23, 59). Then followed (at any rate in earlier times) the mourning women, called praeficae, who sang the nenia or lessus, a mournful song in praise of the dead man (De Leg. ii. 24, 62). Then followed in some cases dancers and mimi (Iul. 84), who were allowed, as at a triumph, free license of jesting. We learn from Suetonius ( Vesp. 19) that it was the custom for the archimimus to wear a mask in the likeness of the deceased, to imitate his speech and manners, and even to make jests at his expense.

The most striking part of the procession was probably formed by the imagines. It is said by Polybius (vi. 53) that the imagines, or wax masks representing distinguished ancestors of the deceased, were brought out from their resting-place in the atrium, and each was worn by a man chosen to resemble as nearly as possible the person whom he was supposed to represent and clothed in the dress of the office which the prototype of the mask had held. Each rode upon a chariot, and was accompanied with due pomp of lictors and other insignia of his office. Thus all the distinguished ancestors of the dead man were present in effigy at his funeral. If he was of good birth, many families to which he was related were represented by their imagines (Tac. Ann. iii. 76), and the actual number was sometimes very great. At the funeral of Marcellus there are said to have been 600 (ad Aen. vi. 802). Sometimes, as a special honour, spoils, crowns, and other records of victories and triumphs were carried before the bier. The procession was also swelled by the slaves who were liberated by the will of the deceased, all with shorn heads, wearing the pilleus (Livy xxxviii. 55). The bier itself was sometimes carried by these liberated slaves (Pers. iii. 106); or in the case of emperors, by magistrates and senators (Suet. Aug. 100). The body was placed uncovered on a bier or couch (feretrum, torus), which in great funerals was elaborately decorated (Iul. 84). In some cases, probably when decay had begun to disfigure the features, the body was placed in a coffin (capulus), and a waxen representation (effigics) was exposed to view instead (Tac. Ann. iii. 5).

In the burial of the poor and of slaves of course this pomp was absent. Hired bearers (vespillones), six (Mart. vi. 77, 10) or four (id. viii. 75, 9) in number, carried the body in a simple wooden coffin or bier, which was not buried with the body (sandapila, Mart.ii. 81).

The relatives of the deceased followed behind the bier, dressed in mourning. The sons of the deceased had their heads veiled, while the daughters went uncovered and with dishevelled hair (Quaest. Rom. 11). Mourning was shown by very much the same signs as in modern times— viz., by the absence of adornment and the wearing of black garments (Juv.x. 245; Prop.v. 7, 28; Tac. Ann. iii. 2; pullus, Juv. iii. 213). Under the emperors white seems to have been substituted for black as the mourning colour for women (Quaest. Rom. 26; Stat. Silv. iii. 3, 3). The women were also in the habit of crying aloud, tearing their hair and lacerating their cheeks in the funeral procession itself (Prop. iii. 13, 27).

In this order the funeral train proceeded to the Forum. There it halted before the Rostra, the wearers of the imagines took their seats upon curule chairs, and the laudatio funebris was pronounced, generally by a near relative of the deceased (Polyb. vi. 53), though in the case of a funus publicum this function might be assigned by a senatusconsultum to one of the magistrates (Instit. iii. 7, 2).

From the Forum the procession moved on to the place of burning or burial, which, according to a law of the Twelve Tables, was obliged to be outside the city, though special exceptions were sometimes made (De Leg. ii. 23, 58). Both burning and burial were in use among the Romans. Cicero (De Leg. ii. 22, 56) and Pliny (Pliny H. N. vii. 187) both hold the view that burial was the more ancient custom. Pliny further says that burning was introduced because it was found that the bodies of those killed in distant countries and buried there were dug up and scattered by the enemy. It is conjectured, however, that the change was partly brought about by motives of health and convenience. In certain families the practice of burial was kept up, after burning had become general. Sulla was the first of the Cornelii to be burned. The reason, according to Cicero and Pliny , of the departure from the custom of his family was, that he feared lest his own bones should receive the same treatment as he had given to those of Marius. In later times burning became far more common than burial, though the latter was always used in the case of children who died before they had cut their teeth (Plin. H. N. vii. 72; Juv.xv. 140), and in the case of those who had been struck by lightning. It seems also that persons of the poorest classes were always buried. After the introduction of Christianity burial again came into use instead of burning. The view that burial was older than cremation is confirmed by some Roman customs. According to pontifical law, the essential part of the funeral ceremony was the casting of earth upon the face of the corpse (De Leg. ii. 22, 57). Again, when a body was to be burned, it was the custom to cut off some portion of it, called os resectum, which was subsequently buried (Epit. p. 148). By this means the newer and more convenient method was adopted, while the ancient regulation which prescribed burial was still carried out.

The remaining rites varied, according as the body was to be buried or burned. In the case of burial the body was placed in the grave either on the bier on which it had been carried, or in a sarcophagus. Numerous objects were also placed in the grave. (See Sepulcrum.) The ceremonies which followed had the double object of making the grave a locus religiosus, and of purifying the family and house which had been defiled by the presence of a corpse. Earth was thrown upon the face of the dead (De Leg. ii. 22, 57), a pig was sacrificed, and an offering was made to the Lares. The day on which these sacrifices took place was called feriae denicales (Epit. p. 70). A funeral feast called silicernium was also held, apparently on the day of the funeral, and by the grave (Varr. ap. Non. p. 48, 8). The period of mourning lasted nine days (novendiale), though it is uncertain whether this period was reckoned from the day of death or the day of burial (ad Aen. v. 64). At the end of this period a sacrificium novendiale was offered to the dead, and a cena novendialis was held (Tac. Ann. vi. 5).

The burning of a body sometimes took place at the spot where the ashes were to be interred. In this case the funeral pile (rogus, pyra) was erected over the trench which was subsequently to be the grave (bustum). The body, however, was often burned at a place near the monument, specially destined for this purpose, ustrinum, ustrina (Epit. p. 32). The pyre was built of wood, in the form of an altar (Verg. Aen. vi. 177). A law of the Twelve Tables ordered that it should not be smoothed with an axe (De Leg. ii. 23, 59). Pyres were sometimes painted (Plin. H. N. xxxv. 49), and cypress-trees were placed in front (Ovid, Trist. iii. 13, 21). On the top of the pile the corpse was placed, with the couch on which it had been carried. Many things were placed on the pyre by the relations and mourners, such as clothes, arms, ornaments, hunting nets and apparatus, horses, dogs, birds (Epist. iv. 2). It was also sprinkled with perfumes, gums, and spices.

The pyre was lighted by one of the relatives, with face turned away (Verg. Aen. vi. 224). When it was burned down, the glowing ashes were extinguished with water or wine (Verg. Aen. vi. 226). Those who had taken part in the funeral uttered a last farewell (Verg. Aen. ii. 644) and departed, while the nearest relatives remained to collect the bones and ashes when they were dry. This was probably done as a rule on the day of the funeral. The bones were sprinkled with wine (though it is not certain that this sprinkling is to be separated from that mentioned above), dried with a linen cloth, and placed in an urn or box with perfumes and spices. The urn was then placed in the sepulchre.

It has already been mentioned that if the body was burned, the os resectum was buried separately. The ceremonies of the feriae denicales were used, as in the case of the burial, including the throwing of earth upon the remains of the dead (De Leg. ii. 22, 57). It does not appear at what moment this was done; but the object of it was to consecrate the place of burial, to make it a locus religiosus. After the bones and ashes of the deceased had been placed in the urn, the persons present were thrice sprinkled by a priest with pure water from a branch of olive or laurel, for the purpose of purification (Verg. Aen. vi. 229); after which they were dismissed by the praefica or some other person, by the solemn word Ilicet, that is, ire licet. In the case of burning, the practices connected with the silicernium and the novendiale seem to have been the same as in the case of burial (see above). When those who had accompanied the funeral returned home, they underwent a purification called suffitio, which consisted in being sprinkled with water and stepping over a fire ( Fest. p. 3). It was then also, perhaps, that the house was swept with a special kind of broom ( Fest. p. 58, s. v. Everriator).

In the case of important funerals, scenic or gladiatorial exhibitions were often given. (See Gladiatores.) Scenic exhibitions were less common; but the Didascalia to the Adelphoe of Terence states that that play was performed at the ludi funebres of Aemilius Paullus (B.C. 160), and we are informed by Livy that ludi scenici as well as gladiatorial combats were exhibited at the death of T. Flamininus (B.C. 174). There were also distributions of food (viscerationes) and public banquets (Iul. 26).

It remains to give some account of the annual rites performed at the tombs in honour of the Manes. Certain days in February (13th-21st) were set apart as dies parentales, or parentalia. The last of these days was specially known as feralia (Ovid, Fasti, ii. 569). The ceremonies performed at this time are described by Ovid (Fasti, ii. 533 foll.). Offerings to the Manes (inferiae) were brought to the tomb. These consisted of wine and milk, honey and oil, the blood of victims, especially of black sheep, pigs, and cattle (Arnob. vii. 20), various fruits, bread, salt, and eggs (Juv.v. 84). The tomb was adorned with wreaths and flowers, especially roses and violets (Ovid, l. c.). A meal was also eaten at the grave. A triclinium funebre, intended apparently for this purpose, was found at Pompeii and is represented in the accompanying illustration. During the dies parentales temples were

Funereal Triclinium. (Pompeii.)

shut and marriages forbidden (Ovid, Fasti, ii. 557 foll.), and the magistrates laid aside the insignia of their office (Lydus, De Mens. iv. 24). The terms parentare, parentatio, were also applied to similar rites performed on other days of the year, such as the day of birth, death, or burial of the person to be honoured. Special days were also appropriated to roses and violets (rosatio, rosaria, rosalia, violatio; Plin. H. N. xxi. 11).

Bibliography. — References may be made to Feydeau, Histoire des Usages Funèbres, etc. (Paris, 1856). For the Greek usages, see Becker-Göll, Charikles, iii. 114-167; Hermann-Blümner, Privatalterth. pp. 361 foll.; and Graves, Burial Customs of the Ancient Greeks (Brooklyn, 1891). For the Roman usages, see Becker-Göll, Gallus, iii. 481- 547; and Marquardt, Privatleben, pp. 340-385.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: