So I’ve been reading about death rituals in pre-Christian Rome, and I’ve discovered two things. The first is that one’s memorial had some kind of effect on the afterlife. The more people remembered you, the better. This is why tombs and inscriptions where all over public places–and it’s why, if you were poor, and if your family couldn’t afford to do much, some might feel that your afterlife could be less than peachy. (I don’t want to make this correlation too simple, because honestly, I don’t think the afterlife entirely hinged on remembrance. If one of you knows more, let me have it.) Thing two: It’s really very touching to see the poorer tombs, where a family obviously couldn’t afford to hire an artist (or at least a good artist) to decorate the graves. Some of the most loving folk art is intricate and… really pretty bad. It’s also interesting to see how the tombs have birds and flowers and serene furry things, much like we modern folks decorate our nurseries.
(Originally posted August 19, 2015)