1. Tradition and change in antiquity

μή μ᾽ ἄκλαυτον ἄθαπτον ἰὼν ὄπιθεν καταλείπειν,
νοσφισθείς, μή τοί τι θεῶν μήνιμα γένωμαι.
Od. 11.72-3
Don’t abandon me, don’t leave me behind, unwept and unburied,
lest I become a visitation upon you from the gods.
The first soul to greet Odysseus on his visit to the Underworld was that of Elpenor, who had been left unwept and unburied in Circe’s house after falling from the roof in a drunken stupor. His warning words indicate that lamentation and burial were two inseparable aspects of the same thing, the γέρας θανόντων (privilege of the dead). [1] Fear of wrath of the dead or of the gods arising from the neglect of these duties is a recurrent theme in the laments throughout antiquity, and especially in tragedy. In the long kommόs performed at Agamemnon’s tomb in Aeschylus’ Choephoroi, Elektra cried out in horror at her mother’s crime: she dared to bury Agamemnon without the ceremony due to a king, and without mourning. [2] This connection between lamentation and burial can be understood more specifically by considering some aspects of the actual procedure at the funeral.

Wake, funeral procession and burial

The lament was by no means just a spontaneous outbreak of grief. It was carefully controlled in accordance with the ritual at every stage. To weep for someone who was still alive, however great the probability of his death, was a bad omen. This was something Andromache forgot when she called her serving-women to join her dirge for Hector after he had taken leave: [3] {4|5}
αἱ μέν ἔτι ζωόν γόον Ἕκτορα ὧ ἐνὶ οἴκῳ.
Il. 6.500
They wept for Hector in his own house, although he was still alive.
Sokrates sent his wife away before he drank the hemlock so that he could die quietly, and when his closest friends could not control their grief at the moment of death he rebuked them, saying that the dying should pass away in peace. [4]
This was because dying involved the struggle of the soul to break loose, known as ψυχορραγεῖν. It could not depart easily if some vow had remained unfulfilled, or if close ties and family obligations were left behind. [5] In Plato's view it was the sinful soul which was reluctant to depart from life. [6] But in Euripides’ Alkestis, which is described by the scholiast as a popular story orally transmitted, [7] it seems that the fight with death was given a more concrete interpretation: Herakles challenged Thanatos to a fight and rescued Alkestis' soul just as it was being snatched away. [8] Whatever the exact form of this 'struggle of the soul', it was a time of danger, at which, according to a tradition preserved by Plato, the daímon appointed to look after each man during his lifetime endeavoured to lead away his soul. [9]
As soon as the moment of dying was over, the body was prepared for the próthesis, or wake. In the early period it was a grand, public occasion, probably taking place out of doors. But after the restrictive legislation of the sixth and fifth centuries it was held indoors, or at least in the courtyard within the household. [10] First the eyes and mouth were closed by the next of kin, and the body was washed, anointed and dressed by the women of the house, usually in white, but sometimes in the case of an unmarried or newly married person in wedding attire. [11] It was then laid on a bier, with a mattress, pillow and cover, with the feet placed towards the door or street. [12] Sometimes it was strewn with wild marjoram, celery and other herbs, believed to ward off evil spirits, then laid on vine, myrtle or laurel leaves. The head, which at this stage was uncovered, was decorated with garlands of laurel and celery. [13] At the door stood a bowl of water brought from outside for the purification of all who came into contact with the corpse, and ointment vessels were placed under the bier. [14] Later writers mention the custom of hanging a branch of cypress over the door to warn passers-by of the presence of the dead. [15]
All was now ready for the próthesis to begin. Its ritual importance from earliest times is attested by the Homeric poems and by several geometric and archaic vase-paintings, although its relative infrequency {5|6} on vase-paintings of the fifth and fourth centuries may perhaps suggest some decline in its importance during the classical period. [16]
It was at the próthesis that the formal lamentation of the dead began. Paintings on Attic and Athenian funerary plaques an vases give a detailed picture of the scene: the father waits at some distance to greet the guests who are arriving to pay their last respects and to take part in the funeral procession. [17] Meanwhile the kinswomen stand round the bier, the chief mourner, either mother or wife, at the head, and the others behind. [18] Other women, possibly professional mourners, are sometimes grouped on the other side, but it is rare to find men, unless they are close relatives, as father, brother or son. [19]
The ritual formality of the men, who enter in procession usually from the right with their right arm raised in a uniform gesture, contrasts sharply with the wild ecstasy of the women, who stand round the bier in varying attitudes and postures. [20] The chief mourners usually clasps the head of the dead man with both hands, while the others may try to touch his hand, their own right hand stretched over him. [21] Most frequently both hands are raised above the head, sometimes beating the head and visibly pulling at their loosened hair. [22] One painting shows the hair actually coming out. [23]
These details are important. The raising of the arms, which can be traced back to Mycenean painted lárnakes (coffins) and to the earliest vases of the Dipylon period, is perhaps the most frequent and the most ancient, although its precise origin and significance are unknown. [24] The other gestures are no less a part of the ritual: Andromache leads off the dirge at Hector's próthesis by laying her hands around his head, and Achilles laments by laying his hand on Patroklos' breast. [25] Orestes regards this stretching-out of the hand as an essential ritual gesture which he was unable to carry out at Agamemnon’s funeral. [26] And the violent tearing of the hair, face and clothes were not just acts of uncontrolled grief, but part of the ritual indispensable to lamentation throughout antiquity. [27]
The archaeological and literary evidence, taken together, makes it clear that lamentation involved movement as well as wailing and singing. Since each movement was determined by a pattern of ritual frequently accompanied by the shrill music of the aulόs (reed-pipe), the scene must have resembled a dance, sometimes slow and solemn, sometimes wild and ecstatic. [28]
The duration of the próthesis varied. Hector's body was burned on the ninth day. [29] Solon stipulated that the ekphorá (funeral procession) should take place on the third, and this seems to have remained {6|7} customary throughout antiquity. [30] Attic vase-paintings confirm that in the geometric and archaic periods the ekphorá had been a magnificent, public affair, with the bier carried on a wagon and drawn by two horses, followed by kinswomen, professional mourners and armed men. [31]
Was there any lamentation at this stage? A black-figure kýathos shows a lament with aulόs accompaniment performed at the ekphorá. [32] And the universal insistence of the restrictive legislation that silence should be maintained indicates that originally there had been some lamentation, although the words suggest wailing rather than a formal dirge. [33] Similarly the injunction in the Gambreion law decree that women's clothes should remain undefiled suggests that it had been customary for the ritual lamentation and rending of garments to continue. [34]
An Attic black-figure loutrophóros from about 500 B.C. shows the coffin with the body of the dead man being laid into the grave: two men are underneath, stretching out their hands to receive it, while two on either side are lowering it in; behind come the women, lamenting. [35] The law code from Delphi forbids wailing during the ekphorá but permits it at the tomb, limiting only the numbers taking part. [36]

Offerings at the tomb

Offerings at the tomb were made on the third, ninth and thirtieth days, after one year, and on certain festivals to propitiate the spirits of the dead. [37] References to tà tríta and tà énata (third-day and ninth-day rites) are frequent in ancient sources, but none makes it clear whether they were reckoned from death or burial. On the whole the former would appear the most probable, in which case tà tríta would have followed immediately after burial. [38]
The scene at the tomb is frequently depicted on vase-paintings, especially on Athenian white-ground lékythoi, and towards the middle of the fifth century it becomes more common than the scenes of próthesis and ekphorá. Here the archaeological material affords an invaluable supplement to the literary and epigraphical evidence, which is plentiful but rarely explicit. [39]
First the mourner dedicated a lock of hair, together with choaí, a libation of wine, oils and perfumes. These were always accompanied by a prayer. [40] Then came the enagísmata, or offerings to the dead, which included milk, honey, water, wine, celery, pelanós (a mixture of meal, honey and oil) and kóllyba (the first-fruits of the crops and dried {7|8} and fresh fruits). [41] Even elfter bull-sacrifice had been forbidden by Solon, it was usual to sacrifice animals—sheep, lambs, kids, birds and fowl—'according to ancestral custom', and bull-sacrifice was permitted on special occasions, for example, to honour the Marathon dead. [42] All victims were killed over the eschára (trench) so that the blood might run into the earth to appease the souls of the dead. [43]
The offerings were part of the feast due to the dead, the meal being burnt as a holocaust. [44] On the vase-paintings the mourner can be seen at the tomb with her lékythoi, containing oil, wine and perfumes, and wide baskets and cloth bundles with various kinds of food. Besides food and drink, offerings might include auloí, lyres, ribbons, garlands and robes, as well as torches and lamps which were kept alight on the graves. [45]
Offerings were never made in silence. The vase-paintings show the mourners approaching with their gifts: there are not usually more than two, one always a woman and on foot, sometimes followed by a man who enters from the right on horseback or on foot, leading his horse. [46] The woman then lays her offerings on the tomb and begins her supplication, either kneeling down in earnest prayer with her right arm outstretched, or standing with the right arm in the same position and the left tearing her loosened hair. [47] They are the same ritual gestures as were customary at the próthesis, and they seem to have continued for some time, since usually when the mourner arrives she is closely wrapped in a dark-coloured robe, her head covered; [48] but when the supplication has begun in earnest she is shown with hair loose, or newly shorn, with one or both shoulders bared. [49]
Perhaps the more ecstatic attitude of the mourner at the tomb can be explain by the nature of the ritual. The próthesis was a formal air, with a large number of people grouped round the bier in more or less set positions. Lamentation at the tomb on the other hand was at once more restricted and more personal, involving the direct communication between the relatives and the dead. If the offerings were to be successful, a more passionate invocation, with ritual gestures, was necessary, as the following poorly spelt inscription from Notion (first century A.D.) vividly describes:
ἔτρεχεν ἡ νάννη καὶ σχείζει τόν γε χιτῶνα,
ἔτερχε κἡ μήτηρ καὶ ἵστατο ἥ γε τυπητόν.
Peek 1159.9-10
Her aunt ran up and tore her cloak; her mother ran up too,
and began the beating of the breast. {8|9}
There was also an underlying sense of fear of the harm the dead might inflict on the living if not fully satisfied. Tendance was the same as appeasement. That is why even Clytemnestra sent mourners with offerings and libations to the tomb of Agamemnon. [50]
There was another reason for the importance attached to the ritual at the tomb: by burying the dead in the earth and making offerings of fruit, grain and flowers it was believed that the earth could be repaid for the gift of life, since earth was nurse and mother of all things, and so fertility could be promoted. As one fifth-century inscription from Attica expresses it:
θρεφθὲς δ᾽ἐν χθονὶ τῆιδε θάνεν...
Peek 697.5
He died in the earth where he was nourished.
This idea, implicit in many of the laments from tragedy, is expressed in formulaic form from the fifth century on, as in another Attic inscription (fourth to third centuries B.C.): [51]
ἐκ γαίας βλαστὼν γαῖα πάλιν γέγονα
Ibid. 1702.2
Having sprung from the earth, earth I have become once more.
Since the earth was so closely associated with the dead, it was natural that the mourner should appeal first to her to receive the offerings and convey them to the dead. [52] In the later inscriptions and in the more literary epigrams of the Palatine Anthology, the earth may even be requested to remember past services, and to treat the dead kindly in return: [53]
Γαῖα φίλη, τὸν πρέσβυν᾽Αμύντιχοω ἔνθεο κόλποις,
          πολλῶν μνησαμένη τῶν ἐπὶ σοὶ καμάτων.
καὶ γὰρ ἀεὶ πρέμνον σοι ἀνεστήριξεω ἐλαίης …
ἀνθ᾽ ὧν σὺ πρηεῖα κατὰ κροτάφου πολιοῖο
          κεῖσο καὶ εἰαρινὰς ἀνθοκόμει βοτάνας.
AP 7.321.1-3, 7-8
Dear Earth, take to your breast the old Amyntichos,
          and remember his many toils for your sake.
In you he always firmly set the stem of the olive-tree …
so in return, lie gently round his aged head,
          and dress yourself in flowers of spring.
An old idea, rooted in fertility magic of great antiquity, has been given new life and vigour with new poetic forms.
The period of mourning varied considerably in different parts of Greece and at different times in the same part. [54] After the burial came {9|10} a series of purification rites, which involved the thorough cleansing of the house and household objects with sea-water and hyssop, and the ritual washing in clean water of the women most closely related to the dead, who were considered unclean. Finally came the ritual meal, known as kathédra and perídeipnon, shared by all the dead man's relatives around the hearth of his house. [55]

Kinswomen and strangers

In the classical period the main responsibility for lamentation rested with the next of kin, particularly the women. But throughout antiquity there persisted the custom of hiring or compelling strangers to lament at funerals. In the Iliad, Trojan women, captives in the Greek camp, are forced to lament for Patroklos. [56] The Spartan Helots were made to lament at the funeral of a king, and so were the Messenians. [57] Under the Erythraian tyrants the citizens themselves, together with their wives and children, were whipped until they screamed and beat their breasts violently. [58] Nor was the custom unknown in classical Athens: Aeschylus refers to 'unhired grief', and it must have been common enough for Plato to have thought it necessary in his Laws to forbid hired songs', usually performed by Carian women at funerals. [59]
The practice was not confined to the Greeks. It was as prevalent among the more civilised Chinese, Egyptians and Romans as among more primitive peoples, and it survives today among the Greeks and other Balkan peoples, in Asia Minor and in Spain. [60] This makes it difficult to believe, with Martin Nilsson, that originally only the next of kin had taken part in the lament, and that the practice of hiring mourners began with civilisation, when improvisation was considered inadequate. [61]
It would be impossible to recover the precise origins of the practice. But some aspects of its development in Greece are important in determining both the nature of he obligation towards the dead and the kinship groups on which it devolved.
A good starting point is terminology. Words often provide useful historical evidence because they are an unconscious reflection of the connections between concepts belonging to a more primitive stage of social development. Such a word is the Greek for funeral, κηδεία, which can also mean alliance or parenthood. Its root form κήδος means concern, and in the plural funeral rites or family feeling The verb κηδεύω means to tend (a bride or a corpse), or to contract an alliance by marriage, and the noun κηδεστής means relation-in-law. Why is tendance of the dead so directly linked with relationship by marriage? {10|11}
Analysing the meaning of the word kadestás in the Gortyn Code, R. F. Willetts draws attention to the fact that in classical literature a single term, kedestés, was used to denote the general concept of relation by marriage as well as the more specific categories of son-in-law, father-in-law and brother-in-law. Plato uses it generically, and in Crete it could also include the heiress' mother and the mother's brothers. [62] He argues that the explanation lies in the conditions of family relationship in Crete, known to have differed from those of the more advanced states in that they were closer to tribal custom, and that the rule of tribal endogamy was normally applied. Relationship in the génos, or clan, was based on well-defined intermarrying groups and was therefore determined not by the family as we know it but by a series of continuously intermarrying collateral groups. Although Cretan society of the historical period was founded on the oîkos, or family, as a unit within the génos, many traces of the older system survive, especially in the terminology. Besides kadestás, the Code uses the word epibállontes, kinsmen in any degree, members of the same génos but not of the same oîkos. [63] It is likely, Willetts argues, that these kadestaí and epibállontes were two intermarrying groups, each with mutual obligations entailing both the protection of marriage rights and the care of funeral ritual. In a Cretan law of the early fifth century it is apparently the kadestaí who carry the corpse from the house to the grave, while another law of slightly later date stipulates that the epibállontes carry out the appropriate lustration after the funeral. [64] Originally both kinsmen and relations by marriage had well-defined obligations towards the dead, and this can be supported by a considerable body of comparative evidence. [65]
If it had once been the duty of the kedestaí to take charge of some of the ritual, then the otherwise obscure connection between tendance of the dead and relationship by marriage can be explained historically. [66] Can the practice of hiring or compelling strangers to mourn and tend the corpse be a relic of this earlier stage, when such duties were performed not by the next of kin but by the intermarrying group? Again terminology affords some clues, although a definite answer is precluded by the nature of the evidence.
Two of the commonest words for lament are thrênos and góos. Although used with little distinction of meaning by classical writers, Homeric usage shows some differentiation. Thrênos occurs only twice. In the Odyssey the pitiful wailing of the Ocean Nymphs, who are kinswomen, is sharply contrasted with the ordered, antiphonal lament of the Muses sung at Achilles' próthesis: {11|12}
ἀμφὶ δέ σ’ ἔστησαν κοῦραι ἁλίοιο γέροντος
οἴκτρ’ όλοφυρόμεναι, περὶ δ ἄμβροτα εἵματα ἕσσαν.
Μοῦσαι δ ἐννέα πᾶσαι άμειβόμεναι ὀπὶ καλῇ
θρήνεον· ἔνθα κεν οὔ τιν’ ἀδάκρυτόν γ’ ἐνόησας
Ἀργείων· τοῖον γὰρ ὑπώρορε Μοῦσα λιγεῖα.
Od. 24.58-62
The daughters of the old sea-god stood round you,
weeping bitterly, and laid upon you the immortal garments.
Then the nine Muses sang laments, each responding in sweet
tones. None of the Argives could restrain his tears, stirred forth
so strongly by the Muse's shrill-voiced song.
In the Iliad the distinction emerges even more clearly in the account of Hector's próthesis between the thrênos of the professional mourners, which was a proper song, and the góos of the kinswomen, which was merely wailed:
                                       παρὰ δ εἷσαν ἀοιδούς
θρήνων έξάρχους, οἵ τε στονόεσσαν άοιδήν
οἱ μὲν δή θρήνεον, έπὶ δέ στενάχοντο γυναῖκες.
τῇσιν δ᾽ Ανδρομάχη λευκώλενος ἦρχε γόοιο.
Il .24.720-3
They brought in singers,
leaders of the dirges, who sang laments
in mournful tune, while the women wailed in chorus.
White-armed Andromache led their keening.
Only the laments of the kinswomen—Andromache, Hekabe and Helen—are given in full, and it is these we are interested in from a literary point of view. Yet the mourning for Hector clearly involved more than a string of solos followed by a refrain of keening: there are two groups of mourners, professional singers and kinswomen. The singers begin with a musical thrênos, answered by a refrain of cries, and then the lament is taken up by the next of kin, each singing a verse in turn and followed by another refrain of cries. Their verses are an answer to the lamentation of the professional singers.
Independent support for this interpretation of the early thrênos as the lament especially composed and performed at the funeral by non-kinsmen comes from Plutarch’s account of Solon’s legislation restricting funeral rites, in his Life of Solon: ‘He [Solon] forbade laceration of cheeks, singing of set dirges and lamentation at other people’s tombs’ (21.4). Here θρηνεῖν πεποιημένα, or set dirges, implies a polished composition, and the close connection between this and the limitation of the right to mourn to kinswomen only is a further indication that the {12|13} thrênos was not originally performed by the next of kin. This might also explain why the thrênos was the particular kind of lament to be developed artistically by the lyric poets. [67]
As for the góos, it is by far the most frequent term in Homer for all the laments which are given in full. These have two features in common: first that they are improvisations inspired by the grief of the occasion, and second that they are all sung by the dead man's relations or close friends. [68]
This points to the origin of the lament in the antiphonal singing of two groups of mourners, strangers and kinswomen, each singing a verse in turn and followed by a refrain sung in unison. In Homer the antiphonal element is becoming obscured, and even the refrain has been reduced to a perfunctory formula. Later in the archaic period the choral ode was developed in the form of the thrênos and the soloist perhaps dispensed with altogether, but in tragedy the older form was re-established in the kommós, which is clearly defined by Aristotle as a tragic lament in dialogue form between chorus and actors. [69] The long kommós in Aechylus' Choephoroi (306-478) is just such an antiphonal lament between Orestes and Elektra, who are Agamemnon's next of kin, and the chorus of libation-bearers, perhaps Trojan captives, who are slaves in the palace and have been ordered by Clytemnestra to take part in the lamentation.
Reference has already been made to Nilsson's view that the antiphonal lament developed out of the solo and refrain after the inadequacy of the improvisations of the next of kin had given rise to the establishment of groups of professional mourners. It implies that antiphony and the use of strange mourners belong to an advanced rather than a primitive stage of development. But first, none of the Homeric góoi provides the slightest evidence for the 'inadequacies of the next of kin': on the contrary, these are given in full, whereas the thrênoi are mentioned only twice and in passing. Second, the Oriental lament, which Nilsson himself considers a possible forerunner of the Greek, was definitely performed by two groups singing antiphonally. [70]
This analysis of the early use of thrênos and góos therefore complements the evidence of the kinship terminology. Both antiphony and the role of the kedestaí can be shown by usage and terminology to be extremely ancient. In ancient Greek the antiphonal performance could be explained by the twin roles of the next of kin, collateral relations of the same génos, and the relations by marriage, collateral members of the opposite génos, each responsible for specified formalities of ritual and lamentation. When this older system of relationship was superseded, {13|14} the duties of tendance passed from the relations-in-law to other non-kinsmen, who were either compelled or hired for the purpose. The origin of the practice in tribal relationship might also explain its strong ritual character and its tenacity throughout antiquity.

The legislation on funeral rites and lamentation

In its origins and early development the lament was an integral part of the funeral ritual. What was the purpose of the legislation restricting lamentation and ritual? Did it result in a break in tradition and a tendency for the lament to lose its ritual significance and become a mere literary convention?
The question is complex, and raises many issues which cannot be thoroughly investigated here. But it may be helpful to bring some of them forward for discussion, since in this way the lament can be seen in a historical perspective, as a phenomenon which could affect social and political life. It also provides an opportunity to touch on the fundamental problem of how continuity of tradition is affected in times of upheaval.
Archaeology, epigraphy and literature all bear witness to the importance attached to funeral ritual in the societies of prehistoric and archaic Greece. The monumental thóloi and chamber tombs of the Mycenean period, designed for the whole génos, show traces of elaborate burial customs and rich offerings of gifts and utensils which cannot be paralleled in later times. [71] For the geometric and archaic periods the large amphorae and the early funerary plaque series illustrate the grandeur of the ekphorá. According to Cicero it was Kekrops, legendary founder of Athens, who initiated the full pomp and ceremony of funerals there. [72] And the fact that from the sixth century on so many laws were passed restricting funeral ritual is itself proof of its previous significance, regarded as somehow harmful and offensive to the newer societies. What are the implications of the strength of these funerary practices in the archaic period, and why was it decided to forbid them?
The evidence is both epigraphic and literary. The earliest laws known to us in detail are those of Solon, described in Plutarch's Life of Solon and in a speech attributed to Demosthenes. According to Plutarch Solon's legislation arose as a direct result of the Kylon affair: the blood-feud which followed Megakles’ massacre of Kylon’s fellow conspirators, after they had failed in their attempted coup d'état and had taken refuge at one of the city’s most sacred altars, left a deep {14|15} mark on Athenian society. Descendants of the two families were in continual strife some thirty years later, in Solon's time. [73] Legislating under these circumstances, Solon is said to have been influenced by Epimenides of Crete, who had enacted similar legislation in Phaistos and had come to Athens in order to help. Thanks to Solon the barbaric excesses for which women were chiefly responsible were brought to an end.
What is meant by 'forbidding everything disorderly and excessive in women's processions, funeral rites, and festivals', as Plutarch says? No woman was to go out with—or probably carry to the grave for burial with the dead—more than three garments, one obol's worth of food and drink, or a basket of more than one cubit's length. There was to be no procession by night except by lighted coach; also, no laceration of the flesh by mourners, no singing of set dirges and no wailing for other dead. Bull-sacrifice was similarly forbidden. No one was to walk about other people's graves unaccompanied. In Plutarch's time, most of these practices were also forbidden by law, and all offenders were to be punished by gynaikonómoi, officials specially appointed to deal with women's affairs. [74] The two aspects of the original legislation emphasised most are the strict curtailing of the offerings at the grave and the limitation of the right to mourn to kinswomen only.
[Demosthenes], who claims to be quoting the actual words of Solon's law, supplements Plutarch's account in the following details: the wake was to take place indoors and be over by sunrise. [75] Again, it was an attempt to turn what had been a public ceremony held outside into a private affair attracting as little attention as possible. The only women permitted to follow the body and possibly weep at the graveside were those 'within the degree of (first) cousins' children, and those who were over sixty years old; and even they were to keep behind the men. Whether they did or not was another matter: the vase-paintings may suggest that the letter of the law was disregarded on this point.
The next law comes from Ioulis in the island of Keos, dating from the second half of the fifth century, but probably a new formulation of earlier legislation. [76] Since contact between Athens and Keos had been maintained through the vermilion trade, it is possible that this law owes something to Solon's. It may also have been connected with the anti-oligarchic movement in Keos which saw Bakchylides exiled between 468 and 459.
The main points are the same as at Athens. The maximum allowance for offerings was rather more generous, but all vessels had to be removed from the grave afterwards. The bier and the covers {15|16} were to be brought home. The motive for the removal of such objects is less likely to have been economy than a desire to prevent the setting up of a permanent mark on the grave which would have made it a place of worship. The ekphorá was to take place in silence, and the women attending the funeral were to leave the grave before the men. Numbers were more strictly limited than at Athens: only five women, all children of daughters and of cousins, were permitted to return to the deceased's house in addition to the immediate family of the dead man's wife, mother, sisters and daughters.
One feature not mentioned in Solon's law is the ban on triekóstia (thirtieth-day rites) which included the depositing of kallýsmata (sweepings from the house) on the grave. Monthly observances were not exclusive to funerals: offerings of food and sweepings from the house, containing all kinds of refuse (including human excreta), were customarily taken by the women every month and left at the crossroads. They were known as 'Hekate's suppers'. Their purpose was apotropaic, to warn off evil spirits, and the monthly occurrence together with their association with Hekate suggests an origin in primitive moon magic. [77] After a funeral the function of kallýsmata was apparently to purge the pollution in the household of the deceased. Perhaps the law was trying to put a stop to these primitive practices controlled by the women and replace then with other more hygienic methods of purification. [78]
Part of the social and religious law code of the priestly clan of the Labyadai at Delphi is also concerned with funeral practice. [79] It dates from the end of the fifth century, but the opening phrase of the part in question may suggest that it was a reformulation of an earlier law. New features include the specification in money value of the offerings permitted, and mention of a fifty drachma fine for disobedience. Regulations for the ekphorá are exact and strict: the corpse must be closely veiled and carried in silence, and must not be laid down and wailed for at the turnings in the road [80] or outside the deceased’s house. There were to be no dirges and no wailing at the tomb of ‘those long dead’. All mourners were to go straight home after the burial except for the homéstioi, a new term meaning ‘those at the same hearth’, and other close relatives by blood or marriage. Wailing and dirges were forbidden on the customary days after burial and after one year, but offerings were permitted.
From the third century B.C. there is a law from Gambreion in Asia Minor which is sufficiently different to be considered independent of the earlier legislation: [81] it contains none of the restrictions on expense and numbers, and the time limit for mourning is more generous, three months for men and four for women. [81a] It specifies that the dress {16|17} worn by women at funerals should be dark, not white, and that it should not be soiled (and presumably torn). Women are selected as the chief offenders, and are to be condemned and punished for disobedience by the gynaikonómoi at the purifications before the festival of the Thesmophoria, with exclusion from sacrifice to any god for a period of ten years. The injunction for the women to 'take part in the processions prescribed by law' after the official period of mourning is over may reflect an attempt to replace the importance of funeral rites in the religious life of the women with something else.
The last group of inscriptions comes from Heraclea Pontica in the fourth century B.C. and from Nisyros in the third: all make it an offence to bury the dead within the temple precincts. [82] One of the motives for these laws may have been to discourage families from setting up their tombs as places of worship.
The remaining literary evidence may be summarised as follows: according to Plutarch, Lykourgos, legendary lawgiver at Sparta, removed the curse of pollution by allowing the dead to be buried within the city precincts and curbed excess by stipulating that the dead be buried in a single scarlet robe and laid only on olive leaves. Only soldiers killed in war and probably women who had died in childbirth might have their names inscribed on their tombs, and all mourning was to end after eleven days. [83] According to Diodoros, Gelon of Syracuse also forbade expensive funerals. [84] Cicero mentions Pittakos of Lesbos as legislating against the lamentation of other dead, and refers to further restrictive legislation at Athens, passed both 'some time after' Solon's laws and during the rule of Demetrios of Phaleron towards the end of the fourth century. [85] Finally, the preambles of laws from Katana purporting to be by the lawgiver Charondas (sixth century B.C.) include the restriction of lamentation. [86]
It emerges from this summary of the evidence that the restrictions originated in the more advanced city states where a new society, often culminating in democracy, was establishing itself. The exception is Sparta. But in Sparta, as nowhere else in Greece, full pomp and ceremony were maintained for the funeral of kings, so that restriction was selective, not general. [87] By taking such a step in good time, along with other social and economic measures, Lykourgos was able to forestall the rise of all-powerful noble families who might challenge both the position of the kings and the limitations imposed on economic and political developments.
If we consider the legislation passed before the end of the fifth century, we shall see that although the details vary, the main points are essentially the same. First, the curbing of extravagance indicates that {17|18} the laws were aimed primarily at the rich, not the poor. Second, the limitation of the right to mourn to the immediate kin suggests a changing emphasis from clan (génos) to family (oîkos). Third, the restrictions on women point to their former prominence in funerals, now considered undesirable. Fourth, the ban on ritual likely to attract attention implies that funerals could arouse dangerous sentiments among the people.
Two main causes for this legislation have been suggested. First, that it was part of an economy drive, and second, that it was designed to curb popular superstition. [88] Both need clearer definition. Who was economizing on what and on whom? Why should the lawgivers in these societies, where plenty of money was spent on the reorganization of religious festivals, the building of temples, theatres and public works, be so concerned about expensive funerals, especially as it was not state money anyway? And some of the things forbidden did not cost anything, such as laceration of the cheeks and bewailing of the dead. Nor was it a rationalist attempt to curb superstition. At the same as restrictive legislation, hero worship was officially introduced, highly organized and receiving full support from the Delphic oracle. This often involved the same beliefs and practices as for the dead.
Let us look at situation in Athens a little more closely, since evidence elsewhere is too fragmentary to present a complete picture. These restrictive measures should not be seen in isolation from other reforms of the sixth century, the general aims of which are fairly clear. It is possible that the restriction of funeral rites was part of an attempt to break down the hold of the aristocratic clan cults. Aristotle says that the democratic trend was to reduce the number of such cults and to throw them open to the public, and that this trend was begun in the age of the tyrants. [89] It is not hard to see why this might have been necessary, since the basis of the aristocratic clan cults was worship of a real or legendary founder: ritual had important associations with cult and could therefore be used to increase religious and political power. Possibly we have here an explanation for the ban on thrênoi. In the choral form in which they were often performed by professional singers, they were part of the clan cult. Simonides, the first poet known to have composed choral thrênoi, wrote them all for wealthy families outside his native Keos, for the court of the Skopadai in Thessaly, and for Antiochos in Larisa. [90] It has been plausibly suggested that the small number of these thrênoi to survive is due to the restrictive legislation. [91]
As for the gradual replacement of clan cults by state cults and hero worship, it was Drakon, in 620 B.C., who first strengthened hero wor{18|19}ship in Attica; and in doing so he did not introduce anything new or extraneous to Greek religion, but revived and extended what had long been popular in local tradition. [92] In the course of the sixth century these reforms were intensified. Solon reorganised the old, local cult groups known as orgeônes and thíasoi, with admission by initiation and adoption instead of by birth, and with the local hero instead of the clan ancestor at the centre of the cult. [93] He does not seem to have interfered directly with the aristocratic cults, but his restrictions on funeral rites were probably designed to limit their scale and influence. Another step of the utmost significance in this connection was his probable transformation of the genésia from a private and sumptuous festival held on the anniversary of a man's death into a general and public Festival of the Dead held on a fixed calendar date and open to the whole people. [94]
Reforms such as these accord with Solon's moderate tactics, which sought not to alienate the aristocracy but to achieve a compromise and modify excess. Further, Epimenides, on whose advice Solon had formulated his restrictive legislation, was famous for his religious reforms in Crete, and it seems likely that one of the consequences of these reforms was the adaptation of older ritual arts to newer forms and purposes. [95] It was at about the same time that the first steps in introducing the mystery religions in Athens were taken. Under the tyrant Peisistratos and his sons, both hero worship and the mysteries were incorporated into state religion, a process which can be documented by some epigraphic evidence. [96] The final step was taken by Kleisthenes, who in the course of his democratic reforms at the end of the sixth century renamed the old tribes and phratries after heroes, discarding the old clan names. It was a political move of prime importance, as Herodotos points out. [97]
These reforms therefore involved a gradual transfer of ritual, and of all the emotive feeling attached to it, from the ancestor of the clan cult to the hero of the state cult. The same athletic contests, rich sacrifices and offerings, choral enkómia and thrênoi, tragic choruses and lamentation, persisted. But they were no longer exclusive to aristocratic clan cults dependent on birth. [98] They were part of a public festival open to all: the mysteries promised happiness to all initiates in afterlife, irrespective of birth or wealth; while for the less sophisticated, the cult of heroes' shrines remained a safeguard against pestilence, defeat in war and failure of crops. [99]
In view of the generally democratic nature of these reforms it is not surprising to find in the restrictions on funeral rites traces of another equally important motive, the consolidation of private property and of {19|20} the right of a son to inherit—of the rights of the family as opposed to those of the géno s. It was pointed out by Bruck that the limitation of offerings to the dead restricts the amount of wealth to be buried with the ancestor in his tomb and increases the amount to be inherited. This restrictive tendency may have begun much earlier, because the archaic tombs show no traces of the vast deposits of wealth which are to be found in Mycenean times. The struggle between ancestor worship and family property developed more gradually and less acutely in Greece than elsewhere; but just because the main conflict had probably been resolved before, developments in the sixth century were more far-reaching. [100]
In the aristocratic period, the customary law of intestate succession was followed. Male descendants in every degree were considered to be the natural and legal heirs; there was no law of primogeniture. If a man died without heirs, his estate passed to collaterals and their descendants. An extinct household therefore passed to the next of kin, who absorbed the property into their own. [101] The old law protected not the oîkos but the génos. The system dated back to the patriarchal society, where landed estates were held in common by the génos, large groups of three or four generations related to a common ancestor, who lived and worked on the same undivided soil. [102] In Athens, with the growing independence of a family (oîkos) as the new socio-economic unit of the city state, a struggle arose between the concentrative tendencies of the clan (génos) and the autonomous inclinations of the family; and this conflict was only resolved by means of state imposition of new legislation. Solon's laws on inheritance and property, the first known to us in detail, consisted of testamentary adoption, whereby in default of male heirs the testator adopted a son who perpetuated the family household and kept its sacra alive. Thus collaterals or ascendants were prevented from inheriting and the concentrative tendencies of the clan (génos) were curtailed. As Plutarch says, formerly money and property went to the clan, but under Solon’s law it became possible for a childless man to leave his property to anyone he liked, and so for the first time a man’s goods became his own possession. [103]
There is evidence that throughout Greek antiquity the right to inherit was directly linked with the right to mourn. Within the clan system the duty of maintaining the clan founder in his old age and of tending his grave after death devolved on all descendants down to the fourth generation, as far as his great-grandsons, who inherited the property in equal shares. [104] Even after the breakdown of the clan system, the link between inheritance and mourning survived. Laws from {20|21} Gortyn in fifth-century Crete stipulate that an adopted heir cannot partake of the property of his adoptive father unless he undertakes the sacred duties of the house of the deceased. [105] In Athens of the fifth and fourth centuries it was the same. Isaios asks in one of his speeches, 'Is it not a most unholy thing if a man, without having done any of the customary rites due to the dead, yet expects to take the inheritance of the dead man's property?' (4.19). In another speech, he describes how the quarrel over Kiron's estate began before he was even buried, when two claimants presented themselves at his wake on the day after he died in order to take charge of the body and of funeral expenses (8.21-4). The suspicion that their eagerness was due less to piety than to the initial advantage they believed they would gain in claiming the inheritance is confirmed when we hear of the sordid quarrel which broke out between them at the graveside. Finally, the implication behind [Demosthenes’] speech Against Makartatos is that by taking part in the ekphorá for Hagnias, Makartatos' mother and Theopompos’ wife are laying false claims on Hagnias’ inheritance (43.79-80). If the right to mourn was so closely linked with the right to inherit until the end of the fourth century, it is not hard to understand why the funeral legislation so persistently restricts the care of the dead to the immediate kin: only those ‘within the degree of first cousins and their children’ were permitted because only they in future were to have any claim on the inheritance. [106]
It remains to explain why the women were so hard hit by the restrictive legislation. From earliest times the main responsibility for funeral ritual and lamentation had rested with them: [107] they were therefore in control of something which in the archaic period had played a vital part in the religious and social life of the génos, and it may be suspected that they gained access in this way to decisions about property. If the family, based on father-right, was to be established as the basic unit of society, then the power of women in religious and family affairs must be stopped, and they must be made to play a more secondary role at funerals. Restrictions on women are another sign of incipient democracy. But perhaps in consolation for their lost privileges they were given at the same time an important part in the Thesmophoria and the Eleusinian mysteries, where they were safely under state control. [108]
Perhaps there was a further motive: the women, by wailing, lacerating themselves and holding ceremonies in public, were attracting attention which might amount to a social menace, not only indecent but dangerous. In the inflammable atmosphere of the blood feud between the families of Megakles and Kylon that was still raging in {21|22} Solon’s time, what more effective way could there be to stir up feelings of revenge than the incessant lamentation at the tomb by large numbers of women for ‘those long dead’?
These exaggerated displays, which included the use of professional mourners, must have excited a state of frenzy. This coincides exactly with the role of women in cases of vengeance. Although the act itself rested with the men, unless there was no male survivor, the women maintained the consciousness for the need to take revenge by constant lamentation and invocation at the tomb. Literary examples include Aeschylus’ Choephoroi, where Elektra starts, hesitant even to pray for revenge, but by the end of the long kommós she is transformed, crying out for blood like a savage wolf. [109] In this play, as in Sophokles’ Elektra, it is clear that Orestes was brought up by another to contemplate the deed of matricide, and was even in need of reassurance at the last minute, whereas Elektra had roused herself to such a pitch of frenzy by means of her passionate invocations that she was ready to do the deed herself. Finally, the dirge is always strongest where the law of vendetta flourishes, as in Sicily or Mani today. The restrictions imposed on women in funeral ritual might well have been designed to end internecine strife between clans by removing the responsibility for punishment in cases of homicide from clan to state, as Plutarch implies himself by connecting them with the Kylon affair and with Drakon’s homicide laws. It is significant to note that the homicide laws restrict the initiative in prosecution to those who are 'within the degree of cousins children, that is, to the same relatives who were considered legal heirs and were permitted to lament at the dead man’s funeral. [110]
How effective, then, was the restrictive legislation? On the surface it does not appear to have changed substantially the character of funeral ritual. Vase-paintings throughout the fifth century, the sumptuary laws of Demetrios of Phaleron and the comments made by Plato in his Laws at the end of the fourth century, Lucian's caustic satire in the second century A.D., and many other sources, point not only to extreme conservatism in such matter but also to the return and revival of many practices which had been forbidden. [111] At the same time it is probable that the early legislation was successful in its fundamental anti-aristocratic aims. There was a gradual transformation in the function and nature of funeral ritual, in accordance with the social changes which had taken place, and the aristocratic hold on these traditions, together with the privileges which they entailed, was broken down.
As for the relation between ritual and lament, it is possible to detect {22|23} a change in emphasis from the public lamentation at the grander ceremonies of próthesis and ekphorá to a more personal kind of lamentation at the tomb. At the beginning of the fifth century the funerary epigram was elaborated into more than a mere statement of the fact of death, expressing a more intimate contact of mourner and dead. This coincides with the introduction of the epitáphios lógos as a public tribute to those deserving special honour and the discarding of the choral thrênos. [112]
But it was only a change in emphasis. Even in its most highly developed literary form, the lament retained something of its ritual connections, because lamentation and funeral ritual never became a purely private affair. Moreover in the more backward, rural districts, where the restrictive legislation failed to penetrate, tradition must have continued much as it always had done.
This uneven development enabled the poets of the classical period to draw on an extremely rich and varied tradition, which they refined and developed but never completely ignored. At the same time it ensured the survival and proliferation of many local practices which might otherwise have disappeared. [113] This factor became increasingly important after the breakdown of the city state, with the unification of the Greek world under the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine Empires.


[ back ] 1. Il. 23.9. See also Lattimore TGLE 221.
[ back ] 2. A. Ch. 429-33. Cf. ibid. 8, Ag. 1541-6, Th. 1002-3, 1058-9, 1066-71, Pers. 674, S. Ant. 26-9, 203, 876, Aj. 924, Ph. 360, E. IT 173-4.
[ back ] 3. See also S. El. 1126-70, Ant. 883-4, E. Alk. 526, Hek. 678-9, A. Pers. 1077.
[ back ] 4. Pl. Phd. 60a and 117d-e.
[ back ] 5. Ibid. 118a. ψυχορραγεῖν: E. Alk. 20, 143.
[ back ] 6. Pl. Phd. 108a-b.
[ back ] 7. E. Alk. 1 Sch.: ἡ διὰ στόματος καὶ δημώδης ἱστορία.
[ back ] 8. Ibid. 1139-42.
[ back ] 9. Pl. Phd. 107d. For a Christianised form of this unusual ancient tradition, surviving in Byzantine and modern Greek, see p. 25, and Politis Laog (1909) 190.
[ back ] 10. [Dem.] 43.62: τὸν ἀποθανόντα προτίθεσθαι ἔνδον. This may mean within the household, i.e. in the courtyard or before the porch, rather than in the house, see Boardman ABSA (1955) 51-66. The evidence of the Dipylon vases (eighth century) has been analysed by Reiner RTG 37-8.
[ back ] 11. Closing of the eyes and mouth: Od. 11.426, 24.296, Il. 453, Pl. Phd. 118a. Preparation of the body: Il. 18.343-55, 19.212, S. El. 1138-42. Type of garments: Il. 24.580, LGS 93A p. 260. Wedding attire: Peek 1238.3.
[ back ] 12. LGS 93A p. 260, 74C p. 217. For the position of the dead, see Il. 19.212, Hsch. s.v. πρόθυρον and δι᾽ ἐκ θυρῶν. It was believed that this facilitated the departure of evil spirits, see Ti. Lokr. 102a.
[ back ] 13. Strewing of herbs: Arist. HA 4.8.534b.22, Plin. 10.195 (origanon); Plu. 2.676d, Tim. 26, Ar. Ec. 1030 (celery). Use of evergreens: Ar. Ec. 1031 (vine); Plu. Lyk. 27 (olive); and Boardman ABSA Pl. 4 (laurel). Garlands: Ar. Lys. 602, Bion 1.75-8, Artem. 1.77, Plu. Tim. 26.
[ back ] 14. Ar. Ec. 1033, E. Alk. 99-100.
[ back ] 15. Thphr. Char. 16, Serv. on Aen. 3.680.
[ back ] 16. Kurtz and Boardman 104.
[ back ] 17. Louvre 905, Brussels Inv. A 3369 (Boardman ABSA Pl. 28, 33).
[ back ] 18. Louvre 905, CVA 80.1-2, 81.1-2,82.1,84.1-2.
[ back ] 19. Women: Athens 450, CVA 80. Men: CVA 80, Kerameikos Inv. 677, Louvre 905 (Boardman ABSA Pl. 19, 28).
[ back ] 20. Zschietzschmann AM (1928) 17-36, B 8-18.
[ back ] 21. Athens 12960, 2410-17,450, CVA 80.3.
[ back ] 22. CVA 80.1-3, 81.1-2, 84.1.
[ back ] 23. Louvre A 575 (Zschietzschmann B 9.17).
[ back ] 24. Vermeule JHS (1965) 123-48 and Iakovidis AJA (1966) 43-50 discuss the evidence of a group of painted lárnakes from Tanagra in Boiotia. The problem of the origin of the gesture is considered by Zschietzschmann ch. 1 and by Hausmann GW 22 ff., who considers its possible relation to the ecstasy gesture of the Minoan goddess (see his Pl. 6). S. Alexiou, however, stresses that the lamentation gesture and the ecstasy gesture were quite distinct, KCh (1958) 248-9.
[ back ] 25. Il. 24.724, 18.317.
[ back ] 26. A. Ch. 8-9.
[ back ] 27. Literary examples include A. Ch. 423-8, 22-31, Pers. 1054-65, S. El. 89-91, E. Supp. 71, 826-7, 977-9, 1160, Alk. 86-92, 98-104, Ph. 1485-92, Andr. 825-35, Il. 10.78, 406, 24.711, Sa. 140a L-P, Pl. Phd. 89b.
[ back ] 28. For a discussion of the use of music at funerals, see Reiner RTG 67 and Hausmann GW 14. A dance associated with Hades and with funeral is referred to in E. Supp. 74-5 and HF 1025-7.
[ back ] 29. Il. 24.784-7. The body of Achilles was not burnt until the eighteenth day, Od. 24.63-5.
[ back ] 30. [Dem.] 43.62: ἐκφέρειν δὲ τὸν ἀποθανόντα τῇ ὑστεραίᾳ ῇ ἂν προθῶνται, πρὶν ἥλιον ἐξέχειν. If the ekphorá took place early in the morning on the day after the próthesis, then it would have been on the third day after death, since the próthesis normally lasted for one whole day. The sources are not always explicit on this point, and it would be wise to infer that the duration of the próthesis varied at different times and in different parts of the Greek world. In Athens, and more generally in later antiquity, the evidence indicates that the ekphorá and burial were normally held on the morning of the third day: Thuc. 2.34, Sch. Ar. Lys. 612, Pl. Lg. 959a, Klearch. ap. Procl. in R. 2.114 Kroll, Plut. Num. 22, Philostr. VA 3.88, Antipho Chor. 34. See Rohde Psyche ch. v n. 50, 51.
[ back ] 31. Athens 806 (large sepulchral crater showing procession of chariots and mourners, c. 750 B.C.), 803 (large sepulchral amphora of same period, showing the dead man on a horse-drawn chariot, followed by mourners), 10862 (geometric amphora showing hoplite procession, c. 750-700 B.C.).
[ back ] 32. Paris Bibl. Nat. 355 (Zschietzschmann B 15.92); see also Kurtz and Boardman Pl. 34-5. The lamentation gesture also figures frequently on scenes depicting the funeral cortège from paintings of the Mycenean period.
[ back ] 33. ὀτοτύζειν LGS 74C, φθέγγεσθαι Pl. Lg. 959e, 960a.
[ back ] 34. Sokolowski LSA no. 16.5-6.
[ back ] 35. Kurtz and Boardman Pl. 36, cf. Pl. 37-8.
[ back ] 36. LGS 74C p. 218.
[ back ] 37. Rites held on the thirtieth day after death were known as τριηκόστια, LGS 93a, and as τριακάδες, Harpokration and Photios s.v.: τοῖς τετελευτηκόσιν ἤγετο ἡ τριακοστὴ ἡμέρα διὰ θανάτου καὶ ἐλέγετο τριακάς. For the annual rites, see Pl. Lg. 717d-e, LGS 73C, Is. 1.10, 2.46, 6.51, 65, 7.30, 32, 9.7, 36. Further references are given by Wyse in his comments on Is. 2.46 (SI 269ff.). Other annual festivals for the dead include the second day of the Athenian festival of Anthesteria, known as Chóes, when it was believed that the souls of the dead came up to the land of the living (Photios s.v. μιαρὰ ἡμέρα; see Aelian fr. 73 Herscher, Ar. Ach. 1076 Sch. [Estensis, Laurentianus]), as well as the third day of the same festival; the nekýsia, Cic. Leg. 2.22, 23, 35, Hsch. s.v. ὡραῖα νεκύσια; and the genésia, Hsch. s.v. genésia, Ammon. Diff. s.v. γενέθλια καὶ γενέσια διαφέρει, Poll. Onom. 3.102, Hdt. 4.26, Antiatticista p. 86. 20. Jakoby rightly stresses that genésia, which was held in Athens on the fifth day of Boedromion, has nothing to do with the birthday of the dead, CQ (1944) 65-75.
[ back ] 38. Tríta: Ar. Lys. 611-13, Is. 2.36. Énata: Is. 2.36, 8.39, Aeschin. 3.225. Rohde’s view that they were celebrated on the third and ninth days after burial, which has been widely accepted, is based on two arguments: first, that it is ‘against all evidence’ to suppose that the tríta coincided with the ekphorá (no evidence is cited); and second, that the Roman novemdiale, which was ‘clearly modeled on Greek custom’, definitely took place on the ninth day after burial, Porph. on Hor. Epod. 17.48: nona die quam sepultus est, Psyche ch. v n. 83. The fullest discussion of the problem is by Freistedt AT 90-126, who demonstrates convincingly that both tríta and énata were more likely to have been reckoned from the day of death, basing his argument on a detailed analysis of the sources within their context, and making use of some inscriptional evidence. Kurtz and Boardman have put forward the view that the tríta were reckoned from death and not from burial—rather surprisingly, without reference to Freistedt’s study—but their arguments are not entirely convincing, since none of the sources cited in their notes are as explicit as they suggest (145-6, and notes in p. 360): most mention offerings at the grave without reference to third-day rites, and only in Ar. Lys. 611-13 are tríta and burial mentioned together. Further, it is strange that the authors should so categorically affirm the dating of tríta from the day of death, and yet adhere, without comment, to the traditional dating of énata from the day of burial (147): since tríta and énata are twice mentioned together (Is. 2.36-7), they can hardly have been reckoned from different days, see also Freistedt 119-26. Complete certainly is perhaps precluded by the nature of the evidence, nor should we forget that ancient practice may have varied: the legislation of the Labyadai from Delphi specifically forbids lamentation ‘on the next day’ (after burial) ‘and on the tenth day and after one year’: μηδὲ τᾶι hυστεραίαι, μηδ᾽ ἐν ταῖς δεκάταις, μηδ᾽ ἐν τοῖς ἐνιαυτοῖς, μήτ᾽ οἰμώζεν μήτ᾽ ὀτοτύζεν (see Freistedt 124-6 for the possible interpretations of this passage). Some further points may be made in support of Freistedt’s view of tríta and énata: first, nothing conclusive can be argued from the Roman novemdiale, since it differed from what is known of the Greek énata, and cannot be assumed to be derived from it, RE s.v.; second, the thirtieth-day rites are explicitly said to have been reckoned from the day of death (see n. 37 above), and it is likely that the tríta and énata were similarly reckoned; third, both rites have survived in Byzantine and modern Greek tradition, with remarkably little change in the terminology, and there can be no doubt that they are reckoned from the day of death, not burial, see ch. 2 n. 39 and ch. 3 n. 40.
[ back ] 39. See Kurtz and Boardman 100-2, 203-13.
[ back ] 40. Lock of hair: A. Ch. 6-7, S. El. 51-3, 448-58. Libation (and prayer): A. Ch. 129-31, 149-51, 164, 166, 486-8, E. IT 158-69, Ar. fr. 488.12-14 (Edmonds FAC 1.708), Peek 428, 1157, 1422, 1970, CIL 8.27331a, LGS 93A.
[ back ] 41. Honey and milk: Il. 23.170, Od. 11.27, E. Or. 115, A. Pers. 612, Ar. Lys. 601 (honey-cake). Fish: Ath. 344c. Kóllyba: Thuc. 3.58.4, Ar. Pl. 678 Sch., Hsch. s.v., cf. CVA 38, 43. The kóllyba were sometimes offered in a special three-compartment vessel called a kérnos, with a lighted candle in the centre, Nilsson GPR 28 and Xanthoudidis ABSA (1905-6) 9-23.
[ back ] 42. Kb. 461, Paus. 5.43.3. For general references to animal sacrifice, see LGS 93A p. 260: προσφαγίωι χρεσθαι κατά τα πάτρια, Thuc. 5.11 and Plu. Sol. 23. Sheep are mentioned in E. El. 92, lambs and kids in Plu. Cat. Ma. 15. The archaeological evidence is summarised by Kurtz and Boardman 215-16.
[ back ] 43. Paus. 10.4.10, Plu. Arist. 21, Pi. O 1.90 Sch., cf. Nilsson GGR 186.
[ back ] 44. A. Ch. 483: δαῖτες ἔννομοι, cf. Kb. 646b. Ἐναγισμοί are defined in the Lexica as ὁλοκαυτώματα. Costly banquets burnt to the dead became more frequent in later antiquity, and are satirised by Lucian, Luct. 19, Charid. 22.
[ back ] 45. Aulós and lyre: CVA 43, cf. Reiner RTG 67. Ribbons and garlands: CVA 34, 35, 38, 41, 42, 43, 82. Robes: Thuc. 3.58.4, CVA 98.1. Torches and lamps: SEG 3.774.14, cf. Athens 17310,1927, 1946, 1815, 12794.
[ back ] 46. Athens 1982, 1825, 12959.
[ back ] 47. CVA 86, 43, 96.8, Boardman ABSA Pl. 7.
[ back ] 48. CVA 43, 46.
[ back ] 49. Boardman ABSA Pl. 7, CVA 97, 43. In Athens 1880 the mourner appears to be quite naked, but this may be due to the poor preservation of the painting. Many white-ground lékythoi also show two figures, one seated by the stele (apparently receiving offerings, sometimes holding a child which is held out to him/her, sometimes playing the aulós or lyre), and the other standing beside the stele, CVA 35, 43, 48, 96, 98. The traditional interpretation of this scene as a depiction of the dead man in conversation with the living is disputed by Kurtz and Boardman 104-5.
[ back ] 50. A. Ch. 37-46. See Harrison PSGR 69, 74.
[ back ] 51. Cf. Kb. 606.4, and in tragedy E. fr. 757 Nauck: εἰς γῆν φέροντες γῆν, Supp. 531-6, Hel. 906-8, A. Th. 477-9.
[ back ] 52. This is how the Chorus of Elders succeeded in raising Dareios’ ghost, A. Pers. 623-32, 639-42. See also Ag. 1538-40, Ch. 123-8, 398-9, 489-90, E. IT 160-1, 170, Ph. 682-8, Tr. 1301-9, Kb. 569.5.
[ back ] 53. Cf. AP 7.476.8-10 (Meleager): ἀλλά σε γουνοῦμαι, Γᾶ παντρόφε, τὰν πανόδυρτον | ἠρέμα σοῖς κόλποις, μᾶτερ, ἐναγκάλισαι.
[ back ] 54. At Gambreion in Aiolis the law prescribes that mourning should not exceed three months for men and four for women, Sokolowski LSA no. 16.11-13: τῶι δὲ τετάρτωι λύειν τὰ πένθη τοὺς ἄνδρας, τὰς δὲ γυναῖκας τῶι πέμπτωι. Kurtz and Boardman interpret as four months for men and five for women (GBC 201); but the Greek implies an exclusive means of reckoning. In Sparta, Lykourgos is said to have restricted the period of mourning to eleven days, Plu. Lyk. 27; while in Athens it was limited to thirty days, and in Ioulis apparently to three, LGS 93A.
[ back ] 55. It was normally held at the house, immediately after burial, on the third day after death, RE 720 s.v. perideipnon, cf. Photios s.v. kathédra. See Nehring SSGIG.
[ back ] 56. Il. 18.339-40.
[ back ] 57. Hdt. 6.58, Tyrt. ALG 1.9.5, cf. Paus. 4.14.5.
[ back ] 58. Ath. 259e.
[ back ] 59. A. Ch. 733, Pl. Lg. 800e 1-3, cf. Sch.: Καρικῇ μούσῃ· τῇ θρηνῴδει· δοκοῦσι γὰρ οἱ Κᾶρες θρηνῳδοί τινες εἶναι καὶ ἀλλοτρίους νεκροὺς ἐπὶ μισθῷ θρηνεῖν, and Luc. Luct. 20.
[ back ] 60. See RLV s.v. Klageweiber, RLIGA s.v. Bestattungsgebräuche, and Bartók and Kodály CMPH 5.81, 91, 109-12. For the use of hired mourners in Greece today, see ch. 3.
[ back ] 61. Nilsson UT 78.
[ back ] 62. Willetts PCPS 191 (1965) 50-61, LCG 18-19 where among other references are cited Antipho 6.12, Isokr. 10.43, Ar. Th. 74, 210, Dem. 19.118, E. Hek. 834, And. 1.50, Lys. 13.1, Is. 6.27, Dem. 30.12, Timai. 84. For the use of the term generically, see Pl. Lg. 773b, and Willetts JHS 92 (1972) 184-5; and as mother’s brothers, Leg. Gort. 4.24, 5.9, cf. Hdt. 4.115.
[ back ] 63. Willetts LCG 18-19.
[ back ] 64. IC 4.46B, 12: αἰ δ᾽ ἰάττας ὀδο̄̑ | διαπέροιεν οἰ καδ|[εσταὶ]... 76Β, 1-4; Θανάτο̄ι, αἴ κ᾽ οἰ ἐπιβάλλ[οντες καθαίρ]εν με̄̀ λείο̄ντι, διδάκσα|ι τὸν δικαστὰν καθαίρε[ν...|...νσι. Erinna uses kedestés for the bridegroom’s father who lights the funeral pyre for the dead bride, AP 7.712 (Willetts LCG 19).
[ back ] 65. Among the Iroquois, members of the same gens are mourners at the funeral of a dead gentilis, but the address at the grave, the preparation of the grave and the burial of the body are performed by members of other gentes, Morgan AS 84. Among the Tlingit Indians, all duties of undertaker at funerals are performed by members of the opposite group or phratry; and among the Tsimshians of northwest Canada a burial is attended by members of the clan of the deceased’s father (the opposite clan, since descent is reckoned in the female line), whose services are paid, Frazer TE 3.275, 316. More recent evidence collected from the Malankuravans of India shows that the nephew (a member of the opposite clan according to their system of relationship) is invariably involved in the funeral ceremony, Krishna Iyer TTC 1.89-90, 33-4, 125-6, 152-5, 185-7, 220-1 (Willetts LCG 19).
[ back ] 66. The possibility cannot be excluded of a similar connection between πένθος meaning grief, especially mourning for the dead, and πενθερός, which originally denoted father-in-law and was later extended to parents-in-law, relations by marriage. Homer uses πενθερός twice, once in the context of the obligation of a father-in-law to avenge his son-in-law’s adultery, and once for Odysseus, whose bitter lamentation on hearing Demodokos’ lay of the wodden horse leads Alkinoos to suppose that he must be crying for the loss of his father-in-law or son-in-law who fought along with the other heroes in Troy (Il. 6.168-70, Od. 8.581-3). The first non-literary occurrence of the word is in the Drakonian law code, as quoted by [Demosthenes], for the father-in-law’s obligation to take part in the legal prosecution in a trail for homicide, the implication being that he had previously taken some part in the execution of revenge, [Dem.] 43.57. Like κηδεστής, πενθερός seems to have been used in connection with the specific obligation both in death and marriage owed by the relations-in-law to the opposite group. It is true that Frisk traces the words to two distinct IE roots (GEW s.v.); but his derivation is only speculative, and before there has been a full investigation of both the historical and the linguistic evidence the possibility remains open that πενθερός was an adjectival form related to πενθός/πενθέω as κρατερός to κράτος/κρατέω.
[ back ] 67. See Reiner RTG 72-100, Smyth GMP introd. 120-4, Harvey CQ (1955) 168-9.
[ back ] 68. Il. 6.499-500, 18.51, 316-17, 22.430, 476, 23.10, 24.665, 723, 761 et pass. For the distinction between góos and thrênos, see Nilsson UT 76-7, n. 21, Reiner RTG 8-9.
[ back ] 69. Po. 12.1452b, cf. Nilsson UT 85-7.
[ back ] 70. Jeremias HAOG 458: ’Es wehklagten die Gattinen, es respondierten die Freunde’ (fragment from the verso of a Babylonian burial ceremonial of the Asurbanipal period). In an exhaustive study of the music of primitive peoples, Wallaschek distinguishes antiphony and the use of hired groups as belonging to early stages of development, suggesting their origin in the two divisions of the tribe, PM II, VI.
[ back ] 71. See Bruck TSGR 231, Rohde Psyche 166, 193 n. 64, Nilsson HM 217, 241, 247.
[ back ] 72. Leg. 2.25.63.
[ back ] 73. Plu. Sol. 12b.
[ back ] 74. Ibid. 21.
[ back ] 75. [Dem.] 43.62.
[ back ] 76. LGS 93A, and pp. 261-2.
[ back ] 77. See Thomson SAGS 1.229 n. 146, who cites the following references: A. Ch. 98 Sch., Ar. Pl. 596 Sch., Poll. 5.163, Harpokr. s.v. ὀξυθύμια, Plu. Mor. 708-9, Ath. 325a, Thphr. Char. 16.7.
[ back ] 78. The law specifies thorough washing in fresh water or sea water, LGS 93A p. 261.
[ back ] 79. LGS 74C.
[ back ] 80. ἐν ταῖς στροφαῖς: the meaning is disputed, and has been interpreted variously as turnings in the song (a reference to the antiphonal performance of the lament), BCH (1895) 5-69, doorways and turnings in the street, i.e. ‘at street corners’, LGS 73C ad loc., and RE s.v. L abyadai. Although there is no exact parallel to this use of στροφαί the latter would appear to be the most likely interpretation of the Greek; see ch. 3 n. 32 for the survival of the custom and for more recent attempts to prohibit it.
[ back ] 81. Sokolowski LSA no. 16.
[ back ] 81a. See above, n. 54.
[ back ] 82. Ibid. no. 83 (also quoted in LGS 2 p. 204), SIG 3.1220, cf. Paus. 2.27.1.
[ back ] 83. Plu. Lyk. 27.
[ back ] 84. D.S. 11.38.
[ back ] 85. Leg. 2.25, 64-7.
[ back ] 86. Stob. Florileg. 44.40.
[ back ] 87. Hdt. 6.58.
[ back ] 88. RIJ 1.12. This view was challenged by Jevons CR (1895) 247 50.
[ back ] 89. Pol. 1319b.
[ back ] 90. Simon. 528, 529 Page; cf. Simon. 521 Page.
[ back ] 91. Nilsson UT 81.
[ back ] 92. Porph. Abst. 4.22, see also Rohde p. 115.
[ back ] 93. Rohde p. 124, 146 n. 49-52 and Bruck TSGR 231 f.
[ back ] 94. Jakoby CQ (1944) 65-75, see especially 69-70.
[ back ] 95. Willetts CCF 311-12, cf. Solon fr. 1.5, 1-4 D, Plu. Sol. 12.
[ back ] 96. Thomson SAGS 1.125 draws attention to an inscription relating to the Mysteries of Demeter at Andania, which decrees that the clan chief Mnasistratos be appointed first hierophant under the new regime, surrendering the administration of the Mysteries to the state, SIG 736.3, 9. Onomakritos is said to have held an official post at the court of the Peisistratidai as editor and arranger of the sayings and writings of Musaios, Hdt. 7.6.
[ back ] 97. Hdt. 5.66-9.
[ back ] 98. Ibid. 5.67, see also Dieterich DFG 33 f. Similarly the Labyadai, whose restrictions on funeral rites have already been considered, were a religious phratry founded in the fifth century, whose members (numbering between 101 and 182 persons) were admitted not by birth as in the old, aristocratic clans, but by special adoption rites from the community as a whole, see BCH 19 (1895) 5-69 and RE s.v. Labyadai.
[ back ] 99. Rohde pp. 133, 135, 137, 149 n. 79.
[ back ] 100. Bruck TSGR 183, see also Childe Man (1945) 16-18.
[ back ] 101. A detailed analysis of this aspect of Solon’s legislation has been made by Asheri, Hist 12 (1963) 1-21.
[ back ] 102. Ibid., see also Seebohm SGTS 111.
[ back ] 103. Plu. Sol. 21: καὶ τὰ χρήματα κτήματα τῶν ἐχόντων ἐποίησεν.
[ back ] 104. Is. 4.19, 8.32, Aeschin. 1.13. See Thomson SAGS 1.109-10 and Seebohm SGTS 47-8.
[ back ] 105. Willetts LCG 48 col. 10.40-8.
[ back ] 106. Evidence from outside Athens is too fragmentary to present a complete picture, but some important details point to similar trends elsewhere: first, in the laws from Katana the restrictions on funeral rites appear to have been introduced in close connections with laws on family and property, Stob. Florileg. 44.40; second, it is implied that in Syracuse the restrictions had a popular and democratic character, D.S. 11.38.2-5; finally, Pittakos is known to have carried out anti-aristocratic reforms in Lesbos, Arist. Pol. 1285a.35.
[ back ] 107. The prominence of women in funeral lamentation is attested from earliest times in archaeology, epigraphy and literature. In Homer the ritual góos is sung by women unless there are none present, or unless the lament is a spontaneous expression of grief or a promise of revenge (as in Il. 22.10-23, 65-100, 314-42). As professional singers comparable to Phemios and Demodokos the θρήνων ἀοιδοί of Il. 24 are also men. In tragedy most of the laments are sung by women, except where there is a male chorus; men’s solo laments tend to remain distinct from the women’s more ritual lamentation, frequently containing a vow or a resolve to avenge the death of the lamented person. See Reiner RTG 53-6.
[ back ] 108. The laws from Gambreion point to a close connection between restrictions on funeral rites and encouragement of the Thesmophoria. Harrison PSGR 143 suggests that the reason for the particularly heavy legislation against women there may be due not to there more conservative and lugubrious nature, but to the survival of matriarchal conditions.
[ back ] 109. 421, cf. Th. 181-202 for the undesirable effects of lamentation on the soldiers’ morale. One may also note that both Antigone and Elektra appeal to the women of their cities in calling for justice for the dead, S. Ant. 694-8, El. 954, 1090; cf. S. El. 86-91, 103-9, 145-6, 231-7, 804-14, 854-7, 951-7, 975-85, E. El. 135-49. 181-7 for Elektra’s own determination to maintain her passionate lamentation.
[ back ] 110. Plu. Sol. 12. For laws on homicide see Dem. 43.57, 23.24, 51-5, Arist. Ath. 57.2-3, and MacDowell AHL.
[ back ] 111. Pl. Lg. 959e, 800e, Luc. Luct. 10 f.; even Epicurus observed tradition, Usener Epic. 258.14, 20, Cic. ND 1.30.85, D.L. 10.18.
[ back ] 112. Weber SSAG 65-6 suggests that one important and possibly intentional result of Solon’s legislation was that in Attica the thrênos was eventually superseded by the epitáphios lógos.
[ back ] 113. See Paus. 2.13.3, 3.15.3, 26.5, 8.4.9, 35.8.