The ancient Greeks mourned their dead in a variety of ways. They would hold a funeral, which would include a burial ceremony and also a wake. The Greeks also had ceremonies for the days following the death of the loved one.
Ancient Greek Funerals
The funeral was an important component of ancient Greek mourning rites. It was usually held within three days after death and could last up to nine days in total. The funeral involved a ritual called “ekecheiria” which is where family members would wash and dress the body before placing it in the coffin. The Greeks also believed that they should bury their dead as soon as possible to show respect for them.
The ceremony at the funeral pyre consisted of a procession, followed by the eulogy and then a prayer. The body was cremated on an elaborate pyre, with an attendant who made sure that it remained in place.
Greek Funeral Wakes
A wake usually followed after the funeral ceremony, it was an event where people would gather to share stories about the deceased and his or her life achievements. The more prominent and respected the deceased was in the community, the larger and longer the funeral wake would be. Gathered friends and relatives would extoll the deceased’s virtues and his or her life celebrated.
Some families would build monuments for the deceased or offer sacrifices to them. They would usually hold a banquet and place the food on the tomb of the dead person.
Ancient Roman Funerals
Funeral rites were important in ancient Rome. The Romans had a strict set of customs and rituals that were followed during the funeral process. We have a complete line of hand-made tear bottles that are inspired by these ancient Roman burial traditions.
Funerals in ancient Rome were organized with a lot of attention to detail.
The ritual was divided into three parts: the body preparation, the procession, and the cremation or burial.
The body preparation consisted of a series of rituals that were to be performed on the corpse before it was taken out of the house. It was customary to wash and anoint the body with oils and perfumes, dress it in clean clothes, and cover it with flowers.
The second step was to prepare for the procession to take place. A procession consisted of a group of friends and family members carrying lighted torches, followed by musicians playing a variety of instruments, and finally leading to the deceased’s bier carried by pallbearers. The bier would be decorated with flowers or wreaths and carried through town while mourners would sing dirges at intervals.
Roman funerals differed from modern funerals in many ways. The first difference is that, unlike a modern funeral, Roman funerals were not all about the dead person. The Romans believed that the living members of the family needed to be cared for and mourned as well. Romans would have a ceremony for themselves and the deceased at the same time.
Another difference is that Roman funerals were much more public than modern funerals are today. This was because death was seen as a social event rather than an individual event like it is today where people are often buried alone without any ceremony or funeral whatsoever.