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LIBITINA 100.00%
An ancient Italian goddess of voluptuous delight and of gardens, vineyards, and vintages, originally connected with Venus, and therefore often called Venus Libitina. She was also regarded as the goddess of death and of the departed, and was therefore afterwards identified with Proserpina. By an ancient ordinance, ascribed originally to Servius Tullus, for every person who died in Rome a piece of money was deposited in her temple. Everything requisite for burials was kept there, and had to be bought or borrowed from it.
VENUS 27.85%
Originally a Latin goddess of spring, presiding over flower-gardens and vines, and as such worshipped by gardeners, husbandmen, florists, and vine-dressers. At Lavinium there was an ancient sanctuary dedicated to her by the Latins; on the other hand, in Rome, she had in olden times no State worship, at least under this name. Her earliest Roman name appears to have been Murcia, which was interpreted later on as Myrtea, goddess of myrtles. How she came to be identified with the Greek love-goddess Aphrodite is not clear. The oldest historical mention of her worship in this character is in 217 B.C., when, by the order of the Sibylline books, after the disaster at Lake Trasimene, a temple dedicated to the Venus of Mount Eryx in Sicily, an ancient and well known place for the worship of Aphrodite Urania, was built on the Capitol. Besides the various forms of worship which she enjoyed, corresponding to the Greek cult of Aphrodite, Venus had a special significance as Genetrix, or mother of the Roman people through her son Aeneas. She was especially worshipped as mother of the race of the Julii, which claimed descent from her grandson Iulus, the son of Aeneas. It was on this aecount that Caesar, in the Forum built by him in 46 B.C., erected a magnificent temple in her honour as Genetrix, in which games were annually held for eleven days. To her, as mother of the whole Roman race, as well as to Roma, the personification of Rome, Hadrian dedicated a splendid double temple, completed 135 A.D., the ruins of which can still be seen in the neighbourhood of the Coliseum. In later times it was called templum urbis. (See ARCHITECTURE, fig. 13.) The 1st of April was sacred to Venus as the day on which she was worshipped by the Roman matrons, together with Fortuna Virilis, the goddess of prosperity in the intercourse of men and women, and also with Concordia, as Verticordia, the goddess who turns the hearts of women to chastity and modesty. Other holidays were kept to her in the same month as goddess of prostitution. (See also VENUS LIBITINA. On the types of Venus in works of art, cp.APHRODITE.)
BURIAL 23.68%
Roman. The worship of the dead among the Romans had, characteristically enough, a legal tinge, and formed a part of the pontifical law, which regulated the place and manner of the interment. The theory of the Romans, like that of the Greeks, was that there was an obligation to bury every dead body, except those of felons, suicides, and persons struck by lightning. Any one finding a corpse was expected at least to throw some earth upon it as a symbol of burial. The first duty of a man's survivors was to bury his body; if he died in a foreign country, the act had to be performed symbolically. If this duty was neglected, the offender incurred a taint of guilt from which he had to purify himself by an annually repeated atonement. After death the eyes and mouth were closed, the body bathed in hot water and then anointed fully dressed, and adorned with the fitting insignia in case of the deceased having held high office. The corpse was then laid out on a state-bed in the atrium, the feet turned towards the door. Near the bed were pans with burning odours, while in the vestibulum, branches of pine and cypress were put up as signs of mourning. The custom of putting a coin in the mouth is not mentioned in literature before the imperial period; but the relics found in tombs show that it is much older. It was, however, only under the Empire that it became general. In ancient times funerals took place after nightfall and by torchlight; and this was always the case with second burials, and if the deceased was a child, or a person of slender means. Hence the use of torches was never discontinued, even when the ceremony took place by day. It was held indispensable at every funeral, and became, in fact, the symbol of burial. The usual time at which funerals took place among the upper classes was the forenoon of the eighth day after death. In the laws of the Twelve Tables an attempt was made to check excess in funeral expenses, but with as little success as attended later enactments. If the funeral was one of unusual ceremony, the citizens were publicly invited by a herald to attend it. The arrangements were entrusted to a special functionary, who was assisted by lictors. The procession was headed by a band of wind instruments, the number of which was limited by the Twelve Tables to ten. In ancient times, and at least down to the Punic wars, these musicians were followed by professional female singers, chanting the praises of the dead (see NENIA). Then came a company of dancers and actors to amuse the spectators with their antics. Supposing the family was honorata, in other words, had it had one or more members who had held curule offices, and the consequent right of setting up masked statues of its forefathers in its house, the central point of the ceremony was the procession of ancestors. This consisted of persons dressed to represent the ancestors in their wax masks, their official robes, and other insignia. The indirect lines of relationship were represented as well as the direct. Each figure was mounted on a high carriage and preceded by lictors. The train included memorials of the deeds done by the deceased, torchbearers, and lictors with lowered fasces. The body followed, uncovered, on an elevated couch; sometimes in a coffin inside the bier. A wooden figure, clothed, and wearing the wax mask representing the dead, sat upright beside it in the attitude of life. The bearers were usually the sons, relations and friends of the deceased; in the case of emperors, they were senators and high officials. Behind the bier came the other mourners, men and women, the freedmen in mourning and without any ornaments. Arrived at the Forum, the bier was set down before the rostrum. The representatives of the ancestors sat down on wooden chairs; the rest arranged themselves in a circle round, while a son or kinsman ascended the rostrum and delivered a panegyric upon the dead. If the funeral was a public one, the orator was appointed by the senate. In the case of deceased ladies such speeches were not usual, until the last century of the Republic. After the speech, the procession moved on in the same order to the place of burial, which, according to the law of the Twelve Tables, must be situated outside the city. No one could be buried within the city but men of illustrious merit, as, for instance, generals who had won a triumph, and Vestal Virgins. By a special resolution of the popular assembly, these persons were allowed the honour of burial in the Forum. The tombs were in some cases situated on family estates, but the greater number formed a line extending from the gates of the city to some distance along the great roads, and especially the Via Appia. (Comp. fig. 4.) Burial was, among the Romans, the oldest form of disposing of the corpse. In certain families (e.g. the gens Cornelia), it long continued the exclusive custom. Infant children, and poor people in general, were always buried. Even when the body was burnt, an old custom prescribed that a limb should be cut off and buried, otherwise the family was not regarded as having discharged its obligations. The body was laid in its tomb in full dress, and placed in a special sarcopbagus. When the body was to be burnt, a pyre was erected on a specified place near the grave. The pyre was sometimes made in the form of an altar, and adorned in the costliest manner. The couch and the body were laid upon it, and with them anything which the deceased person bad used or been fond of, sometimes one of his favourite animals. The followers threw in a variety of gifts as a last remembrance. The pyre was then kindled by the nearest kinsman and friends, who performed the office with averted faces. The ashes were extinguished with water or wine, and the procession, after saying a last farewell, returned home, while the nearest of kin collected the ashes in a cloth and buried the severed limb. After somedays, the dry ashes were put by the nearest relations into an urn, which was deposited in deep silence in the sepulchral chamber, which they entered ungirt and bare-footed. After the burial or burning there was a funeral feast at the tomb. A sacrifice to the Lares purified the family and the house from the taint entailed by death. The mourning was ended on the ninth day after the burial by a sacrifice offered to the Manes of the dead, and a meal of eggs, lentils and salt, at which the mourning attire was laid aside. It was on this day that the games held in honour of the dead generally took place. (See MANES.) Everything necessary for the funeral was provided by contract by the libitinarii or officials of the temple of Libitina, at which a notification was made of all cases of death (see LIBITINA). There were public burial-places, but only for slaves and those who were too poor to buy burial-places for themselves. The bodies were thrown promiscuously into large common graves, called puticuli, or wells, on account of their depth. There was a burial place of this sort on the Esquiline, where the bodies of criminals were thrown to the dogs and birds, until Maecenas laid out his park there. Cheap and promiscuous burial was also provided by the so-called "dove-cots" or columbaria, a place in which could be purchased by persons of scanty means (see COLUMBARIUM). The graves of individuals and families were subterranean chambers, or buildings in the style of houses. Freedmen, and probably also clients and friends, were often buried with the family. The grave was regarded by the Romans and Greeks alike as the dwelling-place of the dead, and was accordingly decked out with every imaginable kind of domestic furniture. It is to this custom that we owe the preservation of so many remains of this sort. The monument often had a piece of land, with field and garden attached to it, surrounded by a wall, and intended to supply flowers, herbs, and other things necessary for the decoration of the tomb and maintenance of the attendants. Other buildings would often be attached, for burning the corpses, for holding the funeral feast, and for housing the freedmen who had the care of the spot. Inscriptions in verse and prose, giving information about the dead, would also be found there.
Daughter of Zeus and Demeter. As the wife of Hades, she is the dread queen of the world below. Her special name in Attic cult is Core (lit. "the Maiden"). As a maiden while plucking flowers (near Enna in Sicily, according to the story common in later times), she was carried off into the lower world by Hades on his car, with the consent of her father. To appease her mother's wrath, Zeus sent Hermes to bring her back; but, since she had eaten part of a pomegranate given her by Hades (i.e. had already become his wife), she could only spend two-thirds of the year in the upper world with her mother. At the end of that time she had always to return to her husband, and rule as the dark goddess of death; whereas, while with her mother, she was regarded as the virgin daughter, and the helper of the goddess who presides over the fertility of the earth. Hence Persephone is emblematic of vegetable life, that comes and goes with the changing seasons. In spring, when the seeds sprout up from the ground, she rises to her mother; when the harvest is over, and the vegetation dies, and the seed is laid again in the dark grave of earth, she returns to her subterraneous kingdom. From this notion of the seed buried in the dark earth and again rising to light was developed that conception of the myth as an image of immortality which lies at the base of the Eleusinian mysteries. To express her rising and descending, her festivals were celebrated in spring and after the harvest. In spring she was worshipped at the lesser Eleusinia in Attica, and at her flower-festival of the anthesphoria, in the Peloponnesus, but more especially in Sicily. In autumn, there was held in Attica the great Eleusinia; i.e. the wedding-feast on her marriage with the god of the lower world. She was generally worshipped together with her mother; hence they were spoken of as "the two goddesses." In the Eleusinian mysteries she was also connected with Dionysus, who, under the mystic name Iacchus, was regarded as her son, brother, or bridegroom. In later times she was confused with other divinities, especially Hecate, as the goddess of night and of the world of spirits. She was represented either as the young and beautiful daughter of Demeter, with cornucopia, ears of corn, and a cock, the emblem of her rising in spring, or as the grim spouse of Hades, with rich adornments and the symbolic pomegranate. (See cut, and cp.DEMETER, fig.1) The Roman name Proserpina is regarded by some as an altered form of the Greek Persephone; by others as a native name only accidentally similar to the Greek, denoting a goddess who assisted in the germination (proserpere) of the seed, and, owing to the similarity of the two goddesses, transferred to Persephone after the introduction of her cult as the divinity of the lower world. (See HADES; see also LIBITINA.)
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