The Greek Way of Death
Hardly any aspect of Greek culture, of its religious and philosophical bases, proves as revealing as its way of confronting human mortality and its ... Show synopsis Hardly any aspect of Greek culture, of its religious and philosophical bases, proves as revealing as its way of confronting human mortality and its observances in relation to the dead. Using both historical and anthropological approaches and sources, both visual and written, Garland describes the extensive and elaborate funerary rituals performed by the Greeks for their dead from the time of Homer to the fourth century BC. The book attempts to revive and re-live the complex texture of feelings provoked in the living by the dead as, moment by moment, the two shifted their ground in relation to one another. Death for the Greeks was not an instantaneous event, rather a process or passage which required strenuous efforts on the part of the living to ensure that the dead achieved full and final transfer to the next world. The central questions which this book attempts to answer are: the extent to which death was a preoccupying concern among the Greeks; the feelings with which the individual may have anticipated his death; the nature of the bonds between the living and the dead; and the light shed by burial practices upon characteristic elements of Greek society. While the beliefs of ordinary Greeks about their ordinary dead from the book's central focus, there is also a chapter on "special dead" - the unburied, murderers and their victims, children and suicides.