The Ritual Lament in Greek Tradition

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.

Wake, funeral procession and burial

Offerings at the tomb

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.): [

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.

Kinswomen and strangers

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]

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.

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.

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.

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.

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]

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]

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.


[ 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.