rapture under the beautiful aspects of the world, and the other class tending to gloom and
despondency under the shadow of the coming doom! To the Greek, Life meant every thing of
happiness which the most exuberant fancy could depict, and Death meant what Homer and the
heroes believed it to be, a dreary and joyless existence beyond the inky Styx.
In those matters which the ancients designated by the general name of piety the Greeks
were worthy to be commended. Suffering excited their sympathy. Sorrow called for kindred
tears. To the dead were due the sacred rites of sepulture. Even the passing stranger
should, for humanity's sake, sprinkle a few handfuls of earth on the unburied corpse
exposed by the way. The atrocious spite of the Orientals in pursuing the lifeless body of
the foe with insult and mutilation was abhorred by the sensitive Greeks, who saw in the
lifeless frame only the sad relic of mortality. Only in the highest heat of battle was any
indignity offered to the dead by the humane soldier of Hellas.
When a Greek fell into his last slumber, the friends immediately composed the body and
laid upon the mouth the ferry fee for Charon. The corpse was clad in white and laid upon a
bier. Flowers were brought by the mourning friends, who put on badges of sorrow. On the
morrow the corpse was burned and the ashes committed to an urn. In the later times the
horror known as earth burial became common, and finally prevailed over the former
beautiful and cleanly method of purification by fire.
After burial in the earth became the usual method of bestowing the dead, cemeteries were
arranged outside the city walls. Sometimes there were single tombs here and there, where
some distinguished person had been buried within his own premises. In other parts there
were public burying-grounds, in which there was a vast aggregate of graves. Over each was
raised a mound of earth, and on this were planted ivy and roses. The coffin of the Greeks
was an elongated ellipse, generally of terra-cotta, resembling somewhat the "dish cover"
burial cases of the Chaldaeans. Over the grave was erected a memorial stone or monument,
and on this was an inscription giving the name of the dead, an effigy perhaps of his
person, a word of praise for his virtues, and an epigram composed for his memory. The
epitaphs of the Greeks were of the highest order of merit and originality; nor was there
about the grave any of those symbols of lugubrious woe which since the Middle Ages have
added so much to the horrors of the city of the dead.
In the coffin of the Greek, Superstition performed her usual little drama. The personal
ornaments worn by the deceased were laid with his body-a pardonable weakness and mark of
respect. But there were also vessels for fruit and oil-the drinking cup, the cake of
bread, the beverage for the departed. The articles thus put away with the dead for his use
have risen for the edification of mankind; but he to whom they were given in death-
"Sleeps the sleep that knows not breaking." (1) ______________________ 1 See Book Second,