Greek Way Of Death Analysis

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Robert Garland opens The Greek Way of Death by noting to readers that the way humans today hold death rituals might one day be found and considered very odd. Garland then reminds us that our feelings about death largely remains the same. In drawing this tie between the two civilizations, readers are reminded that while these Greek practices might seem weird, they were very real and important to the Ancient Greeks. In The Greek Way of Death, Robert Garland discusses death starting with an individual’s sickness to visiting their gravesite years after they have passed; he highlights the importance of familial bonds and how Greeks honored those ties even after death.

In the first chapter, ‘The Power and Status of the Dead,’ Garland describes
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The first act was the laying out of the body or prothesis. To begin, the eyes and mouth of the deceased were closed to display the departure of the soul. Next, an obol or Greek coin was placed in the mouth of the dead for the fare of the ferry across the River Styx. The body was then washed by the women of the family unless the deceased knew of his/her impending death and cleansed themselves. They were clothed in an ankle-length robe and laid out on a bed with their feet facing the door. It was considered unclean to touch the dead, so restrictions were placed on contact with the corpse and the number of people present. The event continued with a small ceremony in which either a personal song would be sung by the family or a generic song by professionals. Some vases illustrate this ceremony with women pulling out their hair or men hitting their heads in grief. The second act was the procession to the burial site or ekphora. For wealthier people, men led a horse drawn hearse which carried the body to the. Homer noted how rare this was; it was more common to use pall-bearers. The procession usually employed musicians and stopped frequently to attract attention. The third act was the placement of the body or ashes at the burial site. It was up to the family to decide whether to cremate or inhume. A priest was not required; all that was brought was a small libation and any offerings (eg. pottery, small animals, shells). Upon completion, women and men left separately so the men could finish constructing the tomb and the women would begin preparing the banquet. Funerals in Ancient Greece were a time for families to showcase their wealth and pride; many Greeks hoped their funeral would be ostentatious and

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