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Ritual and Communication in the Graeco-Roman World

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Eftychia Stavrianopoulou

Ritual Criticism and Consolation

Manolis Skountakis

Texte intégral

  • 1 About this common place, see H. Wankel, “Alle Menschen müssen sterben”, Hermes 111 (1983), p. 129- (...)

1Γίγνωσϰε δὲ ὡς πᾶσιν ἡμῖν ϰατθανεῖν ὀϕείλεται, “know ye that we all have to die”, says the personified Death, trying to console Admetos in Euripides’ Alcestis v. 418-419. No other saying is formulated in as many ways as this.1 But nobody believes that death is avoidable or that someone can avoid death for the sake of another. Why then do we need such statements? Why should one mourn the death of one’s beloved, or weep loudly upon the tomb or keep grief alive long after death? All these questions come up repeatedly in the genre of consolation.

2Consolation is an indispensable element in the majority of the “logoi epitapbioi” known from Attic oratory. The same is true of Latin oratory too, although later. During the Roman imperial period, consolation was established as its own genre of oratory. From the same era come the first examples of the same genre in another field of the Graeco-roman culture: consolatory inscriptions. In these inscriptions the same topics (in many instances in the same order) are repeated in the same or similar vocabulary.

  • 2 The authenticity of this work has often been disputed, but it is a matter of minor importance for (...)

3Consolatory speeches and consolatory inscriptions are best understood in the context of public life, since they are both reflections of it. But they are also works of private character too – or so their authors say. Greek and Latin literature of the imperial period provides several examples of this genre, such as Plutarch’s Consolatio ad uxorem, the (pseudo-?) Plutarchean Consolatio ad Apollonium,2 the pseudo-Platonic Axiochus, Seneca’s Ad Polybium de consolatione, the third Book of Lucretius’ De rerum natura and the first Book of Cicero’s Tusculanae disputationes.

  • 3 More than aggressive toward these rituals and their praxis is Lucian in his deluctu.

4In these private consolations funerary rituals or mourning customs are discussed. In the majority of these instances this “discussion” turns out to be sharp criticism,3 a device aiming at consolation. Space confines me to discussing in full in this context only one of the two transmitted Greek consolatory works of the imperial period, Plutarch’s Consolatio ad uxorem, although passages from the ad Apollonium will be cited where useful. Finally, I will compare this theme in Plutarch with its appearance in consolatory decrees and epigrams of a specific genre.

I.

  • 4 Commentary by M. Pinnoy, “Plutarchus’ Consolatio ad uxorem”, Kleio 9 (1979), p. 65-86 (in Dutch, n (...)
  • 5 Text and translation with modifications from the loeb-Editions: for the Consolatio ad uxorem: Plut (...)

5Plutarch’s Consolatio ad uxorem was written to console his wife for the loss of their daughter Timoxena, who died at the age of two (6lOe).4 Plutarch’s family had already suffered the deaths of two sons: the eldest one and another named Chaireas (609d). Plutarch begins as follows:5

  • 6 Plut., Mor., 608b: Πλούταρχος τῇ γυναιϰί εὖ πράττειν. δν ἔπεμψας ἀπαγγελοῦντα περί τῆς τοῦ παιδίου (...)

Plutarch to his wife, best wishes. The messenger you sent to report the death of our little child seems to have missed me on the way as he travelled to Athens; but when I came to Tanagra I learned of it from my granddaughter. Now the funeral, I suppose, has already been held- and my desire is that it has been so held as to cause you the least pain, both now and hereafter; but if you want to do something that you are leaving undone while you await my decision, something that you believe will make your grief easier to bear, that too will be done without excess or superstition, to which you are not at all prone. (2) Only, my dear wife, in your emotion keep me as well as yourself within bounds. For I know and can set a measure to the magnitude of the loss, taken by itself; but if I find you exceeding all reasonable bouds in grief, this will annoy me more than what has happened.6

6Plutarch warns his wife against excess, superstition and extravagant distress. His argument appeals to the emotions, since he says that this kind of attitude of his wife towards the loss of their little girl will cause him more grief. Nevertheless, περιεργία, δεισιδαιμονία and ὑπερβολή are, according to Plutarch, the common practice of the times, and should be avoided. This point becomes obvious in another passage of the same work:

  • 7 Plut., ad uxor., 608e. oὕτω σωϕρόνως ϰατεϰόσμησας τὸν οἶϰον ἐν ϰαιρῶι πολλὴν ἀϰοσμίας ἐξουσίαν διδ (...)

[…] such was the self possession with which you kept order in your household at a time that gives a great scope to disorderly confusion..7

7Such dxoauia was quite regular, emerging from the way people performed burial and mourning customs. Excess was common in the realms of clothing, the manner of singing mourning-songs, hair, and preparation for burial. Demurring from the extravagant display of emotion will disappoint, or even inspire the disapproval, of the community:

  • 8 Plut., ad uxor., 608f 4: ϰαὶ τοῦτο λέγουσιν οἰ παραγενόμενοι ϰαὶ θαυμάζουσιν, ὠς οὐδὲ ἰμάτιον ἀνεί (...)

This also those who were present report and wonder at the fact that you have not even put on mourning, that you did not subject yourself or your women to any uncomeliness or insulting treatment.8

8Plutarch continues to harp on this theme of restraint, struggling to keep his argument on strictly logical lines (609b: τί γὰρ ἀλογώτερον ἤ;):

  • 9 Plut., ad uxor., 609c: ϰαὶ περὶ μύρου μὲν ἐνίους ϰαὶ πορϕύρας διαμάχεσθαι ταῖς γυναιξί, ϰουρὰς δὲ (...)

Or (is it) more unreasonable … for some husbands to quarrel with their wives about scented unguent for the hair and the purples, but to permit them to crop their heads in mourning, to dye their clothes black, to sit in an uncomely posture and lie in discomfort?9

9Plutarch expands:

  • 10 Plut., ad uxor., 609f-6l0: ἐν ἀρχῆ μὲν οὗν οὔτω τοῦτο γινόμενόν ἐστιν. αὐτὸς γὰρ ἔϰαστος εἰσάγει τ (...)

At the beginning … each person takes grief in of his own accord. But once it has fixed itself with the passing of time and become his companion and his household intimate, it will not leave him even if he greatly wants it. We must, therefore, struggle to keep it at the door and must not let it in to be quartered on us by wearing mourning or cropping the hair or by any other manifestations of the kind that, confronting the mind daily and shaming it into submission, make it dispirited, cramped shut in, deaf to all soothing attempts, and a prey to vain terrors …10

10Plutarch goes on to denounce the loud lamentations of women. This does not help to relieve the pain of loss. To the contrary:

  • 11 Plut., ad uxor., 6l0b (7): ϰαὶ μὴν ὅ γε μέγιστον ἐν τούτω ϰαὶ ϕοβερώτατόν ἐστιν οὐϰ ἂν ϕοβηθείην, (...)

But of course what is most grave and causes a great terror in such a case holds no terrors for me: ‘the visits of pernicious women’ and their cries and their chiming in with lamentations, with which they polish and sharpen the edge of pain, and do not allow our grief to subside either from other influences or from itself; for I know what struggles you recently sustained when you went to the support of Theon’s sister and fought off the assaults of the women who came from the world outside with wailing and screaming, just as if they were adding ‘fire to fire’.11

  • 12 Cf. Lucian, de luctu, 10: ταῦτα οὕτως ἱσχυρῶς περιέληλυθε τοὺς πολλούς ὥστε… (“So excessively are (...)

11Examining this passage we noticed that lamentation is characterised by the superlative μέγιστον ϰαὶ ϕοβερώτατον (sc. ϰαϰόν). The scene with Theon’s sister reminds us of the struggle in a battlefield. The terminology is characteristic and the phraseology rhetorically elaborated: ἀγῶνας ἠγωνίσω – βοηθοῦσα ϰαὶ μαχομὲνη – ταῖς ἐπιούσαις – πῦρ ἐπὶ πῦρ ϕερούσαις. The whole is a kind of grandiose figura etymologica, which attempts to reproduce a real battlefield. And Plutarch has already laid the groundwork with other military metaphors: 609c (5) οὔτ’ ἐϰείνης ἐδέησε τῆς μάχης, and 609f-6l0 δεῖ μάχεσθαι περὶ θύρας ϰαὶ μὴ προσίεσθαι ϕρουρὰν. This rhetorical device functions in two ways. First, it depicts the struggle to resist and to survive under dire circumstances. But the same time it hints that these rituals are so deep seated12 as to be extremely difficult to ignore. Therefore Plutarch’s next exhortation to his wife:

  • 13 Plut., ad uxor., 6lla-b: […] μὴ σκόπεί τὰ νῦν δάϰρυα ϰαὶ τὰς ἐπιθρηνήσεις τῶν εἰσιόντων, ἔθει τινὶ (...)

[…] do not consider the present tears and lamentations of the visitors, a performance dictated by a pernicious habit and rehearsed to any sufferer …13

  • 14 Cf. ad Apollonium, 102b (3): τὸ δὲ πέρα τοῦ μέτρου παρεκϕέρεσθαι ϰαὶ συναύξειν τὰ πένθη παρά ϕύσιν (...)

12Here Plutarch’s criticism is more straightforward. Lamentation is characterised as ϕαῦλον (pernicious).14 But the participle περαινομένας (“rehearsed”) places Plutarch’s emphasis on the unacceptable way the ritual is performed, not upon the ritual itself. Plutarch reiterates that lamentation is a failure of self-control (σωϕροσύνη), the ultimate sin against the cardinal Greek virtue:

  • 15 Plut., ad uxor., 609b: ἡ δὲ θρήνων ἄπληστος ἐπιθυμία ϰαὶ πρὸς ὀλοϕύρσεις ἐξάγουσα ϰαὶ ϰοπετοὺς αἰσ (...)

[…] whereas the never-sated passion for lamentation, a passion which incites us and leads us to wailing and beating the breast, is no less shameful than incontinence in pleasures … For what is more unreasonable than to diminish excess of laughter and jubilation, but, on the other hand, allow free course to the torrents of weeping and wailing the burst forth from the same source?15

  • 16 Plut., ad uxor., 609e-f: […] μιϰρῷ τῷ ϕυσικῷ πάθει πολὺ συγκεραννύμενον τὸ πρός ϰενὴν δόξαν ἄγρια (...)

13Lamentation is also irrational, as Plutarch warns his wife a few lines later:16

[…] because when a little natural feeling of a great deal commingles with vain opinion mourning becomes wild, frenzied and difficult to calm.

  • 17 Plut., ad uxor., 608c: οἶδα ϰαι ὁρίζω; 608f: εἰκός ἐστι (for a logical conclusion); 609a: σώϕρονα; (...)
  • 18 Plut., ad Apollonium, 203f (6): ϰράτιστον δὴ πρὸς ἀλυπίαν ϕάρμακον ὁ λόγος ϰαὶ ἡ διὰ τούτου παρασκ (...)
  • 19 Cf. ad Apollonium, 102a: παρειμένω τό τε σῶμα ϰαὶ τὴν ψυχὴν ὑπὸ τῆς παραλόγου συμϕορὰς, “when you (...)

14As Plutarch warned his wife in the previous passage excessive lamentation is αλογον (irrational). This adjective and its derivatives and similar words are used constantly in this context.17 The best way to relieve the pain of loss, is to try to rationalize the event, as is stated in ad Apollonium: “Reason is the best remedy for the cure of grief, reason and the preparation through reason for all the changes of life.”18 Lamentation and the whole class of funerary rituals lack this rationalizing quality. These rituals could also be a serious threat to health.19

  • 20 Plut., ad uxor., 6l0a-b: ἀμέλειαι δὲ σώματος ἕπονται τῷ ϰαϰῷ τούτῳ ϰαὶ διαβολαὶ πρὸς ἄλειμμα ϰαὶ λ (...)

This unhappy state leads to neglect of the body and aversion to ointment, the bath and the other usages of our daily life. Exactly the contrary should happen since the soul should be helped in its own suffering by a vigorous condition of the body. For its distress loses much of its keenness and intensity when dissipated in the calm of the body, as weaves are dispersed in fear weather; whereas if the body is allowed to squalid and unkempt from a mean way of life, and if it sends up to the soul nothing benign or useful, but only pains and sorrows, like acrid and noisy exhalations, the sufferings that take possession of the soul when it has undergone such ill-usage are so serious that an easy recovery is no longer possible even if desired.20

  • 21 Plut., ad uxor., 608d (3): ἀλλ’ οὐχ ορῶ, γύναι, διὰ τί ταῦτα ϰαὶ τὰ τοιαῦτα ζώσης μὲν ἔτερπεν ἡμᾶς (...)
  • 22 Plut., ad uxor., 609: οὐ γαρ ἐν βακχεύμασιν δεῖ μόνον τὴν σώϕρονα μένειν ἀδιάϕθορον, ἀλλὰ μηδὲν ἧτ (...)
  • 23 Eur., Bacch., 317-318: ϰαὶ γὰρ ἐν βαϰχεύμασιν | οὖσ’ ἣ γε σώϕρων οὐ διαϕθαρήσεται.
  • 24 θρήνων ἄπληστος ἐπιθυμία and περὶ τὰς ἡδονάς ἀϰρασία.
  • 25 ἐϰχεομένας εἰς ϰενὸν ϰαὶ ἀχάριστον πένθος.
  • 26 ἄγρια ποιεῖ ϰαὶ μανικὰ ϰαὶ δυσεξίλαστα τὰ πένθη.
  • 27 Plut., ad uxor., 6l0d: ὁ δὲ πενθῶν ϰάθηται παντὶ τῷ προστυχόντι παρέχων ὥσπερ ῥεῦμα ϰινεῖν ϰαι δια (...)
  • 28 Plut., ad uxor., 609: ὅτι μὲν γὰρ ἐξ ὀρθῶν ἐπιλογισμῶν εἰς εὐσταθῆ διάθεσιν τελευτώντων ἤρτηται τὸ (...)
  • 29 Cf. n. 28.

15A close examination of the vocabulary, especially the adjectives, used by Plutarch in this passage to describe the consequences of immoderate grief reveals another rhetorical device, related to the battle metaphor, discussed above. In the third paragraph he tries to convince his wife that the fact, that their daughter was a delight to them while she lived, should not cause them grief now that they have lost her: “But I cannot find any reason, my dear wife, why these things and the like, after delighting us while she lived, should now distress and dismay us as we take thought of them.”21 Another passage hints at the significance of the word συνταράσσειν: “for not only in Bacchic riot must the virtuous woman remain uncorrupted; but she must hold that the tempest and tumult of her emotion in grief requires continence no less…”22 Here we recognise an allusion to Euripides’ Bacchai: “For even in Bacchic riot / the virtuous woman will not be corrupted.”23 A few lines later Plutarch’s criticism turns against the “never sated passion for lamentation” and “incontinence in pleasures”24 and at 609e-f against the mothers who, after the death of their young children, “give themselves up to an unwarranted and ungrateful grief,25 and further on against ϰενὴ δόξα which “makes their mourning wild, frenzied, and difficult to calm”,26 and finally against whoever being in grief “sits patiently and allows anyone who happens to pass by to meddle with his suffering as with a rheumatic sore and to impassion it (lit. render it wild).”27 He insists that the only remedy for the sudden “changes due to fortune” is “correct reasoning.”28 Otherwise they will cause “serious moral deviations and a failing away destructive of life.”29

  • 30 Plut., ad uxor., 61 Id (10): ὀ πάτριος λόγος ϰαὶ τὰ μυστπιϰὰ σύμβολα τῶν περὶ τὸν Διόνυσον ὀργιασμ (...)

16What the above passages have in common is allusion to disastrous emotion that cannot be controlled. Using terms like ταραχή, κίνημα, πάθος, αγριον, βάκχευμα he paints this emotion with Dionysiac colours. And in so doing Plutarch draws upon the oldest – most primitive – profile of this god, still carrying the symbols of μανία and ecstasy, connoting “dissolution”, “fusing of boundaries” and “uncontrolled emotions”. This was the aspect of Dionysos explored by Euripides in his Bacchai, and stands in sharp opposition to another aspect of the Dionysian cult related to a particular concept of the afterlife, as few paragraphs later is stated. Plutarch draws upon this other, gentler Dionysus as well (perhaps confirming that he had Dionysus on his mind?), when almost at the end of his consolatory letter, he advises his wife to keep herself in the limits “of the teaching of the fathers and the mystic formulas of the Dionysiac rites, the knowledge of which we who are participants share which each other.”30 Whatever he may mean by these “Dionysiac rites”, they have to do with the milder version of this god, the version demanding controlled emotions and limits.

  • 31 See A. Chaniotis, “Theatricality Beyond the Theatre: Staging Public Life in the Hellenistic World” (...)

17We have seen how extravagant grief can cause also bodily disorders. Nor, according to Plutarch, is grief the only realm in which men are prone to break the limits, to transgress the Delphic maxim μηδὲν ἄγαν. In the Hellenistic period extravagance and luxury in burial ritual probably go hand in hand with another aspect of public life: ϕαίνεσθαι (showing off), theatricality.31 It was not enough to be good, one must be seen to be good. In the Roman period, Lucian notes a similar phenomenon in funerary rituals (de luctu). In chapter 12, after discussing the immoderate behaviour of women (and perhaps not only women) at funerals, he gives an ironical description of the corpse:

  • 32 Lucian, de luctu, 12: ὁ δ’ εὐσχήμων ϰαὶ καλὸς ϰαὶ καθ’ ύπερβολὴν ἐστεϕανωμένος ὐψηλὸς πρόκειται ϰα (...)

[…] while he, all serene and handsome and excessively decked with wreaths, lies in lofty, exalted state, adorned as for a procession.32

18This kind of extravagance Plutarch criticises sharply twice in his letter:

  • 33 Plut., ad uxor., 608f-609: […]οὐδὲ ἦν παρασκευὴ πολυτελείας πανηγυρικῆς περὶ τὴν ταϕὴν, ἀλλ’ ἐπράτ (...)

[…] and there was no sumptuous display, like that of a festival, at the burial, but that everything was done with modesty and in silence, in the company of our nearest kin. But this was no surprise to me, that you, who have never adorned yourself out at theatre or procession, but have regarded extravagance as useless for amusements, should have preserved in the hour of grief your self-continence and simplicity. But we, my dear wife, in our relations with each other have had no occasion for the one quarrel, nor I think, shall we have any other for the other. For, on the one hand, your plainness of attire and sober style of living has without exception amazed every philosopher who has shared our society and intimacy, neither is there any townsman of ours to whom at religious ceremonies, sacrifices and the theatre you do not offer your own simplicity as another spectacle.33

19Lucian brings out even more explicitly the theatricality to which Plutarch alludes (οὐδὲ τῶν πολιτῶν ᾧ μὴ θέαμα παρέχεις ἐν ἱεροῖς ϰαὶ θυσίαις ϰαὶ θεάτροις τὴν σεαυτῆς ἀϕέλειαν):

  • 34 Lucian, de luctu, 13: εἶθ’ ἡ μήτηρ ἢ’ ϰαὶ νὴ Δία ὁ πατὴρ ἐϰ μέσων τῶν συγγενῶν προελθῶν ϰαὶ περιχυ (...)

Then his mother, or, o Zeus, his father, comes forward from among the family and throws himself upon him; and let us imagine a handsome young man upon the bier, so that the show that is acted over him may be the more moving. The father utters strange and vain outcries … The father says in plaintive tone, protracting every word …34

  • 35 Lucian, de luctu, 15: ό δ’ οὖν πρεσβύτης οὔτε τοῦ παιδὸς ἕνεϰα τραγωδεῖν ἔοικεν … οὔτε μὴν αὑτοῦ
  • 36 Ibid.: λοιπὸν οὖν ἐστιν αὐτὸν τῶν παρόντων ἕνεκα ταῦτα ληρεῖν.

20Lucian elaborates his theatrical terminology further in the next chapters of de luctu: “but as to the old man…it is not, in all probability, on account of his son that he does all this melodramatic ranting…nor yet is it on his own account35. A few lines after Lucian refers to the participants’ sense that they are playing to an audience: “Consequently it is on account of the others present that he talks this nonsense …36

21In an age when spectacle and extravagance dominated all areas of public life, Plutarch’s wife offered her simplicity as “spectacle” – an antispectacle – to their townsmen. So also the orator Demosthenes, who according to his enemy Aeschines, 3, 77 “On the seventh day after his daughter’s death, before he had mourned for her or performed the customary rites, putting on a garland and resuming his white apparel, he offered a sacrifice in public and violated all custom, when he had lost, poor wretch, his only daughter, who was the first child to address him as father”.

  • 37 J.H.M. Strubbe, “Epigrams and consolation decrees for deceased youths”, AC 67 (1998), p. 45-75, es (...)

22Paragraph 33 of the Consolatio ad Apollonium is a long list of famous persons “who nobly and high-mindedly and calmly have been resigned to the deaths which have befallen their sons”. All these men are clearly exceptions to the rule. Great was the contrast between the behaviour of the πολλοί and the ὀλίγοι, as Plutarch stressed to his wife in the ad uxorem. Excessive mourning was the provence of the vulgar many rather than the elite few. The criterion for distinguishing these two groups is not only financial.37 Adjectives like εὐγενής, μεγαλόϕρων, λιτός and nouns such as εὐστάθεια and ἀϕέλεια are indicative of mental, intellectual wealth. Plutarch’s exhortation to his wife to think logically and reasonably is at the same time an exhortation to abstain from the practices of those financially or morally common.

23Recapitulating, it should be emphasized that Plutarch’s criticism tends to be focused not on funerary rituals themselves but rather on the manner of their performance.

II.

  • 38 See, K. Buresch, “Die griechischen Trostinschriften”, RhM 49 (1894), p. 424-460; O. gott-wald, “Zu (...)
  • 39 Buresch, l c. (n. 38), p. 436-440, discusses the possibility that an honorific decree from Synnada (...)
  • 40 It is worthy to see when each of these inscriptions where decided to be written and then set up. W (...)

24Now to compare Plutarch’s views with the sentiments expressed in consolatory epigraphy. The birth of the consolatory decree coincides less or more with the beginning of the imperial period and this new genre flourished modestly, mostly in Asia Minor, until the end of the era, although inscriptions of this type never became common.38 The genre finds its origins in posthumous honorific inscriptions.39 The language of these inscribed consolations consists, almost without exception, of formulae. First comes a short passage of praise for the dead and a mention of his or her age; if the honorand is a benefactor, a list of benefactions follows; if a public official, a list of his services to his country. Then, usually in next place, the posthumous honours which the honorand will receive. In most cases, these honours consisted of a golden crown and a declaration that the population of the city would participate (or had already participated) in the procession on the way to the cemetery.40 Last comes the “paramytheia” which is almost always wholly formulaic.

  • 41 R. van Bremen, The Limits of Participation. Women and Civic Life in the Greek East in the Hellenis (...)
  • 42 See e.g. Strubbe, l.c. (n. 37), passim. Strubbe, ibid, gives also a full list of the preserved and (...)

25The existence of these inscriptions is to be understood in the context of the so-called “domestication of public life”, often said, on the basis of literary and epigraphical evidence, to characterize this period.41 This cultural tendency is manifested in inscriptions by expressions like πατήρ / μήτηρ / ὑιὸς τῆς πόλεως (“father / mother / son of the city”). The fact that in a consolatory decree the city takes the place of a family member and consoles the family of the deceased is to be recognised as another reflection of this trend (cf. A. Chaniotis in this volume). The vocabulary used confirms this. The decision to honour the dead is almost always taken ὁμοθυμαδόν (“with one soul”), exactly as the members of a family would do. The citizens of the town participated / or will participate in the burial procession πανδημί (“altogether”). These two words rarely appear in inscriptions of other types.42

  • 43 Cf. e.g. W.R. Paton, “Sites in East Caria and South Lydia”, JHS 20 (1900), p. 73-74, n° 1: εἰς τὸ (...)
  • 44 Plut., ad uxor., 608c: μόνον, ὦ γύαι, τηεῖ ϰἀμὲ τῷ πάθει ϰαὶ σεαυτὴν ἐπὶ τοῦ ϰαθεστῶτος. ἐγώ γὰρ α (...)

26Although consolatory letters like Plutarch’s belong in principle to the sphere of the private and consolatory decrees to the public sphere they share a common rhetoric: communication of grief, consolation by sharing misery.43 Take the phrase at the beginning of ad uxorem: “Only, my wife, in your emotion keep me as well as yourself within bounds. For I know and can set a measure to the magnitude of the loss, taken by itself”.44

  • 45 See e.g. MAMA VIII, 412. Cf. also MAMA VIII, 408: εὐθαρσῶς τὸ συμβεβηϰὸς ὑπὸ τοῦ δαίμονος ἐνενϰεῖν (...)

27Firstly, it is declared that the town feels condolence for the loss of one of its excellent members. Therefore, the family should not feel alone in the pain, which they experienced. Then follows a formulaic exhortation of the sort ϕέρειν ἀνθρωπίνως τὰς συμβεβηϰυίας αὐτοῖς συμϕοράς (“to bear the calamities which have occurred in the manner appropriate to the mortals”). The phrase ἀνθρωπίνως ϕέρειν τὸ συμβεβηϰάς (“to bare fate within human limits”), which recurs in the consolatory decrees, is an exhortation to think reasonably: “think that we are all human beings, and this means that we all have to die.”45

III.

  • 46 A collection of these epigrams is offered by A.-M. Verilhac, Paides aoroi. Poésie funéraire, I-II, (...)

28A parallel category to that of the posthumous honorary decree is the inscribed funerary epigram. This genre of popular poetry has a long tradition. A special group of such inscribed epigrams emerges at the dawn of the imperial period and shares a common history with the consolatory decree. The majority of them are dated between the 1st and the late 3rd or 4th century AD. A common theme in these little poems is that of the mors immatura.46 But what sets these poems aside from other funerary epigrams is their consolatory purpose: they speak in the voice of the deceased bringing consolation to the living. These epigrams tend to read very similarly:

  • 47 SGO II 09/02/01. 3-4, (Apameia in Bithynia): μῆτερ ἐμὴ, θρήνων ἀποπαύεο, λῆξον ὀδυρμῶν / ϰαὶ ϰοπετ (...)

My mother, leave off lamentations, cease to mourn and cut yourself; Hades turns pity aside.47

29And a second:

  • 48 SGO I 03/06/04 . 5-18 (Teos, 1st / 2nd cent. AD): ΠΡΩΙΓΑΡΗΔ ἀλλὰ θρήνων, ϕίλε, παύεο, μῆτερ / Πρει (...)

… but cease now with the lamentation, my beloved mother
Primigene, expel the sorrow, which bites your heart;
as a consolation for my loss, put in your mind
the following; the children of the immortals, too, went down to Hades.48

  • 49 Plut., ad uxor., 608c: ἄν δέ σε τῷ δυσϕορεῖν ύπερβάλλουσαν εὕρω.

30In the first epigram the deceased exhorts her mother to leave off lamentation, cease mourning and cutting herself in grief. Ἀποπαύομαι means “put an end to something already started”. The poem presupposes that the mother has been lamenting the loss. This is what both human nature and ritual require. What the child seeks to prevent is lamentation, which lasts longer than it should. Again, it is not the ritual that is here criticised, but its excessive performance. Plutarch says in his ad uxorem that if he finds any extravagance of distress in his wife, it will be more grievious to him than the loss itself.49 Another epigram treats the same theme:

  • 50 Kaibel, o.c. (n. 46), 151. 13-14: (Attica): ἤδη δυστήνου ϰατὰ δώματα λήγετε πένθους. | ϰαὶ ϕθιμένη (...)

Now give over sorrowing grievously about the house.
Though I am dead, this is my dearest wish.50

31Ἤδη in the first position strives for emphasis: “You have already mourned too much; enough already”. Not the mourning itself but the lack of limits is criticised.

  • 51 Translation by Lattimore, o.c. (n. 48), p. 218.

32According to Plutarch reason (λόγος) is the best road to consolation. The epigrams make similar appeals. Mythological exempla like οὐδὲ γὰρ Ἡραϰλῆα τὸν ὅς ϕίλος ἀθανάτοισιν | εὔγμασιν Ἀλϰμήνα ῥύσατο τηϰόμενον, “Alcmene’s prayers could not save even Heracles beloved of the gods from death”,51 which so often recur in this group of epigrams, aim at persuading the mourner to think logically. In the inscription from Teos, θῆσθε ἐμ ϕρεσί (“put in your mind”) should certainly be understood in the same sense.

33We have seen so far that Plutarch and the epigrams criticize not ritual but its excessive performance. But some of these consolatory epigrams seem to go further. But first an epigram from Syrian Antioch:

  • 52 SGO I 20/03/04 (1st cent. AD): τὸ σᾶμα Δαμόνειϰος, ὠπολλώνιε, | ξυνευνέτας τοι τοῦτο τᾶς τεᾶς ϰόρα (...)

Damoneikos has built this tomb, Apollonios,
the consort of your daughter,
for you, his father in law, and with drink-offerings over your tomb
and with yearly flower-crowns
tries to appease you, not without tears. Indeed, in many instances
do the sons in law carry out the duties of the children.52

34At this case we have to do probably with a case of under-performing posthumous rituals. Damoneikos complains that he, as son in law, has had to built the tomb and perform the rituals that the children of the deceased have neglected. This can hardly be read as other than a reproach to the sons of the deceased. But the epigram gives also a good account of what should be expected as a proper honour for the deceased. Some of this class of epigram straightforwardly criticize ritual itself, something Plutarch had not done:

  • 53 Kaibel, o.c. (n. 46), 646. 9-12 (perhaps 3rd – 4th cent. AD): μὴ μύρα, μὴ στεϕάνους στήλλῃ, χαρίσῃ (...)

Don’t offer myrrh-oil or crowns to the gravestone; it’s only a stone;
don’t light a fire either; you will spend your money in vain;
If you have something to give me, give it to me, when I’m still alive; if you
drown the ashes with wine,
you will turn them into mud and the dead will not drink anyway.53

35Here the regular honours to the dead are condemned as vain profiting neither the living nor the dead. The epigram recalls a passage in Lucian’s de luctu, where a young boy is fancifully presented mocking his father, who loudly mourns his death:

  • 54 Lucian, de luctu, 19: τί δὲ ὁ ὑπὲρ τοῦ τάϕου λίθος ἐστεϕανωμένος; ἤ τί ὑμῖν δύναται τὸν ἄϰρατον ἐπ (...)

[But, what good do you think I get] from the wreathed stone above my grave? Or what is the use of your pouring out the pure wine? Or do you think that it will drip down to where we are and get all the way through to Hades? As to the burnt offerings, you yourselves see, I think, that the most nutritious part of your provender is carried off up to Heaven by the smoke without doing us in the lower world the least bit of good, and that what is left, the ashes, is useless, unless that you believe that we eat dust …54

  • 55 Cf. e.g. SGO I 03/07/19, 6 (Erythrai, 1st cent. AD), 03/02/65. 3-6 (Ephesos, 2nd or 3rd cent. AD), (...)

36Lucian’s tone is sharply ironical and, indeed, not far away from the message of our epigram. They share the same cruel hyperrationality: libations, drink-offerings over the tomb and crowns are addressed to someone, who cannot receive them55. Thus the complaint of the epigram: “if you have to give me something, give it to me, when I’m still alive”.

IV.

  • 56 Strubbe, l.c. (n. 37), p. 54: “It is quite possible that the consolatory themes entered the epigra (...)
  • 57 H.W. Pleket, “Troostdecreten: een maatschappelijk verschijnsel”, in H.F.J. Horstmanshoff (ed.), Pi (...)

37The aim of Plutarch’s consolatory letter is to console his wife on the loss of their little daughter. In it he expresses no criticism of ritual per se but a great deal of criticism on the manner in which his contemporaries perform ritual. The consolatory decree, on the other hand, is an effort to bridge the gap between individual and community. The death of an excellent citizen is another good excuse to bring together people from a different social status. The public procession and the posthumous honours as well as the “eternal fame” of the deceased consist the δημόσια παραμυθία to the family. At this case traditional customs and rituals step upon a more solid ground. The consolatory inscribed epigrams in general cleave close to the conventions of the genre as manifested in Plutarch and the consolatory decrees. But in a few instances they turn out to be more “radical” in their sentiments. Are we to recognise the influence of a particular philosophical doctrine or rather a mixture of doctrines? Or have these poems been more influenced by the tradition of epigram than the genre of consolation? J. Strubbe argues for an infiltration of consolatory themes in the epigrams from literary consolations, which again may have included ideas from philosophical literature.56 Another hypothesis has been proposed by H.W. Pleket who thinks that certain philosophical ideas found their way in the upper classes of the cities through the lectures of wandering philosophers.57 I find Pleket’s thesis more plausible; it offers an explanation for the diverse consolatory themes documented in epigrams, which often are not so much products of the elite itself but rather reflections of the reception of elite mentality by other classes.

Notes

1 About this common place, see H. Wankel, “Alle Menschen müssen sterben”, Hermes 111 (1983), p. 129-154.

2 The authenticity of this work has often been disputed, but it is a matter of minor importance for our analysis and therefore will not be considered. The best study on this work with a brilliant commentary of the text is R. Kassel’s Untersuchungen zur griechischen und römischen Konsolationsliteratur, Munich, 1958 (Zetemata, 18).

3 More than aggressive toward these rituals and their praxis is Lucian in his deluctu.

4 Commentary by M. Pinnoy, “Plutarchus’ Consolatio ad uxorem”, Kleio 9 (1979), p. 65-86 (in Dutch, non vidi); see also Th. H. Johann, Trauer und Trost. Eine quetten- und strukturanaiytische Untersuchung der philosophischen Trostschriften über den Tod, Munich, 1968 (Studia et Testimonia antiqua, 5).

5 Text and translation with modifications from the loeb-Editions: for the Consolatio ad uxorem: Plutarch’sMoralia, vol. VII, transl. by Ph.H. de lacy; for Consolatio ad Apollonium: vol. II, transl. by F.C. Babbit.

6 Plut., Mor., 608b: Πλούταρχος τῇ γυναιϰί εὖ πράττειν. δν ἔπεμψας ἀπαγγελοῦντα περί τῆς τοῦ παιδίου τελευτῇς ἕοιϰε διημαρτηϰέναι ϰαθ’ ὁδόν εἰς Ἀθήνας πορευόμενος. εγὼ δὲ εἰς Τανάγραν έλθὼν ἐπυθόμην παρὰ τῆς θυγατριδῆς. τὰ μὲν οὗν περὶ τὴν ταϕὴν ἤδη νομίζω γεγονέναι, γεγονότα δὲ ἐχέτω ὤς σοι μέλλει ϰαὶ νῦν ἀλυπότατα ϰαὶ προς τὸ λοιπὸν ἔξειν. εἴ δέ τι βουλομένη μὴ πεποίηϰας ἀλλὰ μένεις τὴν ἐμὴν γνώμην, οἴει δέ ϰουϕότερον οἴσειν γενομένου, ϰαι τοῦτο ἔσται δίχα πάσης περιεργίας ϰαι δεισιδαιμονίας, ὧν ἤκιστά σοι μέτεστι. 608c (2) μόνον, ὦ γύναι, τήρει ϰἀμὲ τῶ πάθει ϰαὶ σεαυτὴν ἐπὶ τοῦ ϰαθεστῶτος, ἐγὼ γὰρ αὐτὸ μὲν οἶδα ϰαὶ ὑρίζω τό συμβεβηϰὸς ἡλίϰον ἐστίν, ἂν δὲ σὲ τῷ δυσϕορεῖν ὑπερβάλλουσαν εἕρω, τοῦτό μοι μᾶλλον ἐνοχλήσει τοῦ γεγονότος.

7 Plut., ad uxor., 608e. oὕτω σωϕρόνως ϰατεϰόσμησας τὸν οἶϰον ἐν ϰαιρῶι πολλὴν ἀϰοσμίας ἐξουσίαν διδόντι.

8 Plut., ad uxor., 608f 4: ϰαὶ τοῦτο λέγουσιν οἰ παραγενόμενοι ϰαὶ θαυμάζουσιν, ὠς οὐδὲ ἰμάτιον ἀνείληϕας πένθιμον οὐδὲ σαὐτῆ τινα προσήγαγες ἤ θεραπαινίσιν ἀμορϕίαν ϰαὶ αἰκίαν …

9 Plut., ad uxor., 609c: ϰαὶ περὶ μύρου μὲν ἐνίους ϰαὶ πορϕύρας διαμάχεσθαι ταῖς γυναιξί, ϰουρὰς δὲ συγχωρεῖν πενθίμους ϰαὶ βαϕὰς ἐσθῆτος μελαὶνας ϰαὶ ϰαθίσεις ἀμόρϕους ϰαὶ κατακλίσεις ἐπιπόνους;

10 Plut., ad uxor., 609f-6l0: ἐν ἀρχῆ μὲν οὗν οὔτω τοῦτο γινόμενόν ἐστιν. αὐτὸς γὰρ ἔϰαστος εἰσάγει τὸ πένθος ἐϕ’ ἐαυτόν, ὄταν δὲ ἱδρυνθῆι χρόνω ϰαὶ γένηται σύντροϕον ϰαὶ σύνοικον, οὐδὲ πάνυ βουλομένων ἀπαλλάττεται. διό δεῖ μάχεσθαι περὶ θύρας αὐτᾧ ϰαὶ μὴ προσίεσθαι ϕρουρὰν δι’ ἐσθήτος ἢ ϰουρᾶς ἢ ἄλλου τῶν τοιούτων ἃ ϰαθ’ ἡμέραν ἀπαντῶντα ϰαὶ δυσωποῦντα μικρὰν ϰαὶ στενὴν ϰαὶ ἀνέξοδον ϰαὶ ἀμείλιϰτον ϰαὶ ψοϕοδεῆ ποιεῖ τὴν διάνοιαν…

11 Plut., ad uxor., 6l0b (7): ϰαὶ μὴν ὅ γε μέγιστον ἐν τούτω ϰαὶ ϕοβερώτατόν ἐστιν οὐϰ ἂν ϕοβηθείην, ϰαϰῶν γυναιϰῶν εἰσόδους ϰαὶ ϕωνὰς ϰαὶ συνεπιθρηνήσεις αἶς ἐϰτρίβουσι ϰαὶ παραθήγουσι τὴν λύπην, οὔθ’ ὑπ’ ἄίλλων οὔτε αὐτὴν ἐϕ’ ἑαυτῆς ἐῶσαι μαρανθῆναι. γινώσϰω γὰρ ποίους ἔναγχος ἀγῶνας ἠγωνίσω τῆ Θέωνος ἀδελϕῆ βοηθοῦσα ϰαὶ μαχομένη ταῖς μετὰ ὀλοϕυρμῶν ϰαὶ ἀλαλαγμῶν ἔξωθεν ἐπιούσαις ὥσπερ ἀτεχνῶς πῦρ ἐπί πῦρ ϕερούσαις..

12 Cf. Lucian, de luctu, 10: ταῦτα οὕτως ἱσχυρῶς περιέληλυθε τοὺς πολλούς ὥστε… (“So excessively are people taken in by all this that …”). Translation, adapted, by A.M. Harmon, Lucian, vol. IV, 19694[1925].

13 Plut., ad uxor., 6lla-b: […] μὴ σκόπεί τὰ νῦν δάϰρυα ϰαὶ τὰς ἐπιθρηνήσεις τῶν εἰσιόντων, ἔθει τινὶ ϕαύλῳ περαινομένας πρὸς ἕκαστον…

14 Cf. ad Apollonium, 102b (3): τὸ δὲ πέρα τοῦ μέτρου παρεκϕέρεσθαι ϰαὶ συναύξειν τὰ πένθη παρά ϕύσιν εἶναί ϕημι ϰαὶ ὑπὸ τῆς ἐν ἡμῖν ϕαύλης γίγνεσθαι δόξης (“but to be carried beyond all bounds and conciously in exaggerating our griefs I think it is contrary to nature, and results from our depraved opinions”). But see Lucian, de luctu, 1: νόμω δὲ ϰαὶ συνήθεια τὴν λύπην ἐπιτρέποντες (“no, they simply commit their grief into the charge of custom and habit”).

15 Plut., ad uxor., 609b: ἡ δὲ θρήνων ἄπληστος ἐπιθυμία ϰαὶ πρὸς ὀλοϕύρσεις ἐξάγουσα ϰαὶ ϰοπετοὺς αἰσχρὰ μὲν οὐχ ἧττον τῆς περὶ τὰς ἡδονὰς ἀϰρασίας … τί γὰρ ἀλογώτερον ἢ τὸ γέλωτος μὲν ὑπερβολὰς ϰαὶ περιχαρείας ἀϕαιρεῖν, τοῖς δὲ ϰλαυθμῶν ϰαὶ ὀδυρμῶν ῥεύμασι, ἐϰ μιᾶς πηγῆς ϕερομένων, εἰς ἅπαν ἐϕιέναι;

16 Plut., ad uxor., 609e-f: […] μιϰρῷ τῷ ϕυσικῷ πάθει πολὺ συγκεραννύμενον τὸ πρός ϰενὴν δόξαν ἄγρια ποιεῖ ϰαὶ μανιϰὰ ϰαὶ δυσεξίλαστα τὰ πένθη.

17 Plut., ad uxor., 608c: οἶδα ϰαι ὁρίζω; 608f: εἰκός ἐστι (for a logical conclusion); 609a: σώϕρονα; 609e (6): εὐλόγιστον; 611a (9): ὀρθών έπιλογισμὼν; 611e: διανοοῦ. Consolatio ad Apollonium, 102e: εὐλόγιστος; 103a: τῆς γὰρ εὐλογιστίας ἔργον, ϕρόνησις, ϕρονήσεως; 103e: ἀϕροσύνην; 108a: ϕρονῆσαι; 108c: τῆς τοῦ σώματος ἀϕροσύνης; 112d: λόγος; 114e: ἀλογιστίας, ἀνοίας; 114d: λογίζοιντο, προσαναλογίσαιντο; 116b: ϕρένας ἔχοντος ἀνθρώπου; 117a: ἡ διὰ τὴν ἀπαιδευσίαν ἄνοια ϰαὶ παραϕροσύνη.

18 Plut., ad Apollonium, 203f (6): ϰράτιστον δὴ πρὸς ἀλυπίαν ϕάρμακον ὁ λόγος ϰαὶ ἡ διὰ τούτου παρασκευὴ πρὸς πάσας τὰς τού βίου μεταβολάς. See Kassel, o.c. (n. 2), p. 66.

19 Cf. ad Apollonium, 102a: παρειμένω τό τε σῶμα ϰαὶ τὴν ψυχὴν ὑπὸ τῆς παραλόγου συμϕορὰς, “when you have abandoned both body and soul because of the unexpected calamity”.

20 Plut., ad uxor., 6l0a-b: ἀμέλειαι δὲ σώματος ἕπονται τῷ ϰαϰῷ τούτῳ ϰαὶ διαβολαὶ πρὸς ἄλειμμα ϰαὶ λουτρὸν ϰαὶ τὴν ἄλλην δίαιταν. ὦν πᾶν τοὐναντίον ἔδει τὴν ψυχὴν πονοῦσαν αὐτὴν βοηθεῖσθαι διὰ τοῦ σώματος ἐρρωμένου. πολύ γὰρ ἀμβλύνεται ϰαὶ χαλᾶται τοῦ λυποῦντος, ὥσπερ ἐν εὐδία ϰῦμα, τῆ γαλήνῃ τοῦ σώματος διαχεόμενον, ἐὰν δὲ αὐχμὸς ἐγγένηται ϰαὶ τραχύτης ἐϰ ϕαύλης διαίτης ϰαὶ μηδὲν εὐμενὲς μηδὲ χρηστὸν ἀναπέμπη τὸ σῶμα τῇ ψυχῇ πλὴν ὀδύνας ϰαὶ λύπας, ὥσπερ τινὰς πίκρὰς ϰαὶ δυσχερεῖς ἀναθυμιάσεις, οὐδὲ βουλομένοις ἔτι ῥαδίως ἀναλαβεῖν ἐστιν. τοιαῦτα λαμβάνει πάθη τὴν ψυχήν οὔτω ϰαϰωθεῖσαν.

21 Plut., ad uxor., 608d (3): ἀλλ’ οὐχ ορῶ, γύναι, διὰ τί ταῦτα ϰαὶ τὰ τοιαῦτα ζώσης μὲν ἔτερπεν ἡμᾶς, νυνί δὲ ἀνιάσει ϰαὶ συνταράζει λαμβάνοντας ἐπίνοιαν αὐτῶν. Cf. 6l0e-f: ἐν δὲ τοῖς τοιούτοις ὁ μάλιστα τῆς μνήμης τῶν ἀγαθῶν ἀπαρυτόμενος ϰαὶ τοῦ βίου πρὸς τὰ ϕωτεινὰ ϰαὶ λαμπρὰ μεταστρέϕων ϰαὶ μεταϕέρων ἐϰ τῶν σκοτεινῶν ϰαὶ ταρακτιϰῶν τὴν διάνοιαν ἤ παντάπασιν ἔσβεσε τὸ λυποῦν ἤ τῆ πρὸς τοὐναντίον μίξει μικρὸν ϰαὶ ἀμαυρὸν ἐποίησεν (“while in circumstances like these he who in greatest measure draws upon his memory of past goods and turns his thought toward the bright and joyous part of his life, averting it from the dark and disturbing pan, either extinguishes his pain entirely, or by combining it with its opposite, renders it slight and faint”).

22 Plut., ad uxor., 609: οὐ γαρ ἐν βακχεύμασιν δεῖ μόνον τὴν σώϕρονα μένειν ἀδιάϕθορον, ἀλλὰ μηδὲν ἧττον οἴεσθαι τὸν ἐν πένθεσι σάλον ϰαὶ τὸ ϰίνημα τοῦ πάθους ἐγϰρατεὶας δεῖσθαι.

23 Eur., Bacch., 317-318: ϰαὶ γὰρ ἐν βαϰχεύμασιν | οὖσ’ ἣ γε σώϕρων οὐ διαϕθαρήσεται.

24 θρήνων ἄπληστος ἐπιθυμία and περὶ τὰς ἡδονάς ἀϰρασία.

25 ἐϰχεομένας εἰς ϰενὸν ϰαὶ ἀχάριστον πένθος.

26 ἄγρια ποιεῖ ϰαὶ μανικὰ ϰαὶ δυσεξίλαστα τὰ πένθη.

27 Plut., ad uxor., 6l0d: ὁ δὲ πενθῶν ϰάθηται παντὶ τῷ προστυχόντι παρέχων ὥσπερ ῥεῦμα ϰινεῖν ϰαι διαγριαίνειν τὸ πάθος.

28 Plut., ad uxor., 609: ὅτι μὲν γὰρ ἐξ ὀρθῶν ἐπιλογισμῶν εἰς εὐσταθῆ διάθεσιν τελευτώντων ἤρτηται τὸ μαϰάριον, αἱ δὲ ἀπὸ τῆς τύχης τροπαί μεγάλας οὐ ποιοῦσιν ἀποκλίσεις οὐδὲ ἐπιϕέρουσι συγχυτικὰς ὀλισθήσεις τοῦ βίου.

29 Cf. n. 28.

30 Plut., ad uxor., 61 Id (10): ὀ πάτριος λόγος ϰαὶ τὰ μυστπιϰὰ σύμβολα τῶν περὶ τὸν Διόνυσον ὀργιασμῶν, ἃ σύνισμεν ἀλλὴλοις οἱ ϰοιωνοῦντες.

31 See A. Chaniotis, “Theatricality Beyond the Theatre: Staging Public Life in the Hellenistic World”, Pallas 41 (1997), p. 219-257.

32 Lucian, de luctu, 12: ὁ δ’ εὐσχήμων ϰαὶ καλὸς ϰαὶ καθ’ ύπερβολὴν ἐστεϕανωμένος ὐψηλὸς πρόκειται ϰαὶ μετέωρος ὥσπερ εἰς πομπὴν ϰεκοσμημένος.

33 Plut., ad uxor., 608f-609: […]οὐδὲ ἦν παρασκευὴ πολυτελείας πανηγυρικῆς περὶ τὴν ταϕὴν, ἀλλ’ ἐπράττετο ϰοσμίως πάντα ϰαὶ σιωπῇ μετὰ τῶν ἀναγκαίων, ἐγὼ δὲ τοῦτο μὲν οὐκ ἐθαύμαζον, εἰ μηδέποτε ϰαλλωπισαμένη περὶ θέατρον ἢ πομπήν, ἀλλὰ ϰαὶ πρὸς ἡδονὰς ἄχρηστον ἡγησαμένη τὴν πολυτέλειαν, ἐν τοῖς σϰυθρωποῖς διεϕυλαξας τὸ ἀσϕαλὲς ϰαὶ λιτὸν…;Cf. 609c and d: ἀλλ’ ἡμῖν γε, γύναι, πρὸς ἀλλήλους οὔτ’ ἐϰείνης ἐδέησε τῆς μάχης οὔτε ταύτης οἶμαι δεήσειν. εὐτέλελλία μὲν γὰρ τῆ περί τὸ σῶμα ϰαὶ ἀθρυϕία τῇ περὶ δίαιταν οὐδείς ἐστι τῶν ϕιλοσόϕων δν οὐϰ ἐξέπληξας ἐν ομιλίᾳ ϰαὶ συνηθεία γενόμενον ἡμῖν, οὐδὲ τῶν πολιτῶν ᾧ μὴ θέαμα παρέχεις έν ἱεροῖς ϰαὶ θυσίαις ϰαὶ θεάτροις τὴν σεαυτῆς ἀψέλειαν.

34 Lucian, de luctu, 13: εἶθ’ ἡ μήτηρ ἢ’ ϰαὶ νὴ Δία ὁ πατὴρ ἐϰ μέσων τῶν συγγενῶν προελθῶν ϰαὶ περιχυθεὶς αὐτῷ – προκείσθω γάρ τις νέος ϰαὶ ϰαλός, ἵνα ϰαὶ ἀϰμαιότερον τὸ ἐπ’ αὐτῷ δρᾶμα ᾖ – ϕωνὰς ἀλλόϰότους ϰαὶ ματαίας ἀϕίησι … ϕήσει γὰρ ὁ πατὴρ γοερόν τι ϕθεγγόμενος ϰαὶ παρατείνων ἕϰαστον τῶν ὀνομάτων…

35 Lucian, de luctu, 15: ό δ’ οὖν πρεσβύτης οὔτε τοῦ παιδὸς ἕνεϰα τραγωδεῖν ἔοικεν … οὔτε μὴν αὑτοῦ.

36 Ibid.: λοιπὸν οὖν ἐστιν αὐτὸν τῶν παρόντων ἕνεκα ταῦτα ληρεῖν.

37 J.H.M. Strubbe, “Epigrams and consolation decrees for deceased youths”, AC 67 (1998), p. 45-75, esp. 56: “The words of Plutarch and his fellow philosophers may have obtained a good hearing with the elite in the cities … because these words corresponded with aristocratic ethics. According to Plutarch, the masses of people are weak of mind and fall short of education and mental training; therefore they will never be able to attend metriopatheia by reason. The majority is carried along by excessive grief. Firmness in grief on the contrary is a distinguishing mark of the wise man (σώϕρων), of the noble (γενναῖος). The latter term is continuously used in the Consolatio ad Apollonium (for example, § 4: πεπαιδευμένων δ ἐστὶ ϰαὶ σωϕρόνων ἀνδρῶν … πρὸς τὰς ἀτυχίας ϕυλάξαι γενναίως τὸ πρέπον), while excessive grief is frequently qualified by Plutarch as not noble (ἀγεννής; § 22; 24).

38 See, K. Buresch, “Die griechischen Trostinschriften”, RhM 49 (1894), p. 424-460; O. gott-wald, “Zu den griechischen Trostbeschlüssen”, Commentationes Vindobonenses 3 (1937), p. 5-19; L. robert, “Ulpia Heraclea de la Sabaké”, in Hellenica 3, Paris, 1946, p. 15 sq.; id., “D’Aphrodisias a la Lycaonie”, in Hellenica 13, Paris 1965, p. 229 sq.; id., “Enterrements et épitaphes”, AC 37 (1968), p. 406 sq. (= Opera Minora Selecta VI [1982], p. 82 sq.).

39 Buresch, l c. (n. 38), p. 436-440, discusses the possibility that an honorific decree from Synnada in Phrygia figures as an antecedent of the new sort “paramythetic”. L. Robert, “Les inscriptions grecques de Bulgarie”, RPh 33 (1959), p. 217-220, proposes as a predecessor a Hellenistic decree from Mesambria, IGBulg. I 2 388.

40 It is worthy to see when each of these inscriptions where decided to be written and then set up. Was it before or after the burial? The time setting is of a great interest since it comes near to the postulate of the “consolation at the right time”. Cf. ad Apollonium, 102a: τότε μὲν οὖν ὑπὸ τὸν τῆς τελευτῆς ϰαιρὸν ἐντυγχάνειν σοι ϰαὶ παραϰαλεῖνως ἀνθρωπίνως ϕέρειν τὸ συμβεβηϰὸς ἀνοίϰειον ἦν (“in those days, close upon the time of his death, to visit you and urge you to bear your present lot as a mortal man should would have been unsuitable”). Cf. for example the past tense at I.Knidos 71: μετὰ πάσας προθυμίας συνελθὼν εἰς τὸ θέατρον, ἁνίϰα ἐξεϰομίσθη, τό τε σῶμα ϰατέχων αὐτᾶς, … ἐπεϰελεὐσατο θάπτειν αὐτὰν πανραμεὶ ϰαὶ ἐπεβόασε…

41 R. van Bremen, The Limits of Participation. Women and Civic Life in the Greek East in the Hellenistic and Roman Periods, Amsterdam, 1996, p. 156-170; J.H.M. Strubbe, “Posthumous honours for members of the municipal elite in Asia Minor, 2nd’-3rd cent. AD”, in Proceedings of the XIth International Congress of Greek and Latin Epigraphy, Rome, 1999, p. 497-507, with further bibliographical references; id., “Bürger, Nicht-Bürger und Polis-Ideologie”, in K. Demoen (ed.), The Greek City, from Antiquity to the Present. Historical Reality, Ideological Construction, Literary Representation, Louvain/Paris, 2001, p. 27-39, esp. p. 34-39.

42 See e.g. Strubbe, l.c. (n. 37), passim. Strubbe, ibid, gives also a full list of the preserved and published consolatory decrees in p. 60-63.

43 Cf. e.g. W.R. Paton, “Sites in East Caria and South Lydia”, JHS 20 (1900), p. 73-74, n° 1: εἰς τὸ ἐπιϰουϕίζεσθαι αὐτοὺς διὰ τῆς […ϰοινων] ίας τῆς λύπης; IG XIV, 760: ὁμολογοῦντας ϰοινὴν εἶναι λύπην τὴν πρόμοιρον Τεττίας Κά [στας τελευτήν].

44 Plut., ad uxor., 608c: μόνον, ὦ γύαι, τηεῖ ϰἀμὲ τῷ πάθει ϰαὶ σεαυτὴν ἐπὶ τοῦ ϰαθεστῶτος. ἐγώ γὰρ αὐτὸ μὲν οἶδα ϰαὶ ὁρίζω τὸ συμβεβηϰὸς ἡλίϰον ἐστιν. On this element of compassion see e.g. Strubbe, l.c. (n. 37), p. 66-67.

45 See e.g. MAMA VIII, 412. Cf. also MAMA VIII, 408: εὐθαρσῶς τὸ συμβεβηϰὸς ὑπὸ τοῦ δαίμονος ἐνενϰεῖν (“to bear with courage what has occurred on the account of the divinity.”)

46 A collection of these epigrams is offered by A.-M. Verilhac, Paides aoroi. Poésie funéraire, I-II, Athens, 1978-1982. My sources were also G. Kaibel’s Epigrammata Graeca, Berlin, 1878 and R. Merkelbach, J. Stauber, Steinepigramme aus dem griechischen Osten I-V, Stuttgart/Leipzig, 1998-2004 (= SGO). I give a list (not exhaustive) of the epigrams I have found. Kaibel: Attica: 151.13-14 (“poetam valde recentem arguit oratio”); 153.15-16; Insularum et Asiae: 231.7-8; 246.4-5; 252.5-6 (“I fere p.Chr. n. saec.”); 264.11-13; 266.3 (“litterae infimae aetatis”); 282.2-3; 320.5; 321.10-12 (“haud ita multo post a.171”); Graeciae: 502.4.12 (“prope Thebas. III vel IV saeculi”); 513.3 (“Eretriae Phthiotidis”); Italiae, Galliae, Hispaniae, Germaniae: 546.5-6 (“melioris Notae”); 569-10 (“olim Romae integer lapis, nunc Neapoli fractus. II vel III saeculi”); 570.5-8 (“Romae. II saeculo non recentius”); 624.9-10 (“in Capreis insula. I vel II saeculi”); 651.5-6 (“Scandriglia in vico Sabinorum, nunc Neapoli in museo. II saeculi”). SGO I 01/23/03.4-6 (Herakleia am Latmos, “undatiert”), 03/06/04.15-18 (Teos, 1st/2nd cent. AD); 04/05/06 (Thyateira, “Hohe, vielleicht sogar späte Kaiserzeit”: G. Petzl); 04/08/02 (Daldis. 1st cent. AD?); 04/10/07.8-9 (Iulia Gordos, 2nd AD?); 04/19/03.5-6 (Iaza. 260/1 AD); SGO II 08/01/41 (Kyzikos, Kaiserzeit); 08/01/51.10-11. 17 (Kyzikos, “frühe Kaiserzeit”); 08/06/11.9-10 (Hadrianuthera? / Mittleres Makestos-Tal, “nicht vor 2. Jh. n. Chr”.); 08/08/12.15 (Hadrianoi pros Olympon, “wohl 4/5 Jh. n. Chr”.); 09/01/03.5 (Kios, “3/2 Jh. n. Chr.?”); 09/01/04.9? (Kios, “1 Jh. n. Chr.?”); 09/02/01.3-4 (Apameia in Bithynien, “unbestimmt”); SGO III 14/04/03.11-15 (Kissia, “nach 312 n. Chr”.); 15/03/03.8 (Pessinus); 16/08/05.6 (Temenuthyrai?, “wohl 2. Jh. n. Chr.”); SGO IV 16/31/93 A10-11; D11-12 (Appia oder Soa, 300-350 n. Chr.); 16/31/97.28-29 (Appia); 18/18/01.22-23 (Kolybrassos, 3/4. Jh. n. Chr.); 20/14/06.3-4 (Sidon, Kaiserzeit); 21/24/01.2 (Philadelphia. Kaiserzeit).

47 SGO II 09/02/01. 3-4, (Apameia in Bithynia): μῆτερ ἐμὴ, θρήνων ἀποπαύεο, λῆξον ὀδυρμῶν / ϰαὶ ϰοπετῶν. Ἀίδης οἶϰτον ἀποστρέϕεται. Translation by R. Lattimore, Themes in Greek and Latin Epitaphs, Urbana, 1942, p. 218.

48 SGO I 03/06/04 . 5-18 (Teos, 1st / 2nd cent. AD): ΠΡΩΙΓΑΡΗΔ ἀλλὰ θρήνων, ϕίλε, παύεο, μῆτερ / Πρειμιγένη, ἀπόθου θυμοδαϰεῖς ὀδύνας. / τῆς ἐπ’ἐμοὶ λύπης παραμύθιον ἐμ ϕρεσὶ θέσθε / τοῦτ’, ὅτι ϰαὶ μαϰάρων παῖδες ἔνερθεν ἔβαν. Translation mine. In verse 15 I didn’t keep the punctuation by Merkelbach Stauber. Nor have I translated ϕρεσί as “Herz”. For the enigmatic ΠΡΩΙΓΑΡΗΔ I think that we should expect something which corresponds to the latin properans… hora, the motive of mors immatura. W. Peek’s proposal in Griechische Vers-Inschriften I, GrabEpigramme, Berlin, 1955, n° 2006, πρωὶ γὰρ ἠδ’ – ἀλλὰ goes probably in the right direction but I can not see what is the meaning of ἠδ’ and the abruption after it seems to be too elaborate for this bilingual inscription. Could we read πρὼι τ’ ἆρ’ ἦν “It was too early for me to die but…?”

49 Plut., ad uxor., 608c: ἄν δέ σε τῷ δυσϕορεῖν ύπερβάλλουσαν εὕρω.

50 Kaibel, o.c. (n. 46), 151. 13-14: (Attica): ἤδη δυστήνου ϰατὰ δώματα λήγετε πένθους. | ϰαὶ ϕθιμένηι γὰρ ἐμοὶ τοῦτον ποθεινότατον. Translation by Lattimore, o.c. (n. 49), p. 217.

51 Translation by Lattimore, o.c. (n. 48), p. 218.

52 SGO I 20/03/04 (1st cent. AD): τὸ σᾶμα Δαμόνειϰος, ὠπολλώνιε, | ξυνευνέτας τοι τοῦτο τᾶς τεᾶς ϰόρας | ἔστασ’ ἑϰυρεῖ ϰἠπιτυμβίοις χοαῖς / ϰαὶ στεμμάτεσιν ἀνθέων ἐτησίων | μειλίσσετ’ οὐϰ ἀδάϰρυς ἦ ῥα πολλάϰις | γαμβροὶ τὰ παίδων ἐϰτελεῦσι θέσμια. Translation mine.

53 Kaibel, o.c. (n. 46), 646. 9-12 (perhaps 3rd – 4th cent. AD): μὴ μύρα, μὴ στεϕάνους στήλλῃ, χαρίσῃ, λίθος ἐστίν· / μηδὲ τὸ πῦρ ϕλέξεις ἰς ϰενὸν ἡ δαπάνη· | ζῶντί μοι, εἴ τι ἔχεις, μεταδός, τέϕραν δὲ μεθύσκων | πηλὸν ποιήσεις ϰαὶ οὐϰ ὁ θανὼν πίεται. Translation mine.

54 Lucian, de luctu, 19: τί δὲ ὁ ὑπὲρ τοῦ τάϕου λίθος ἐστεϕανωμένος; ἤ τί ὑμῖν δύναται τὸν ἄϰρατον ἐπιχεῖν; ἤ νομίζετε ϰαταστάξειν αὐτὸν πρὸς ἡμᾶς ϰαὶ μέχρι τοῦ Ἅιδου διίξεσθαι; τὰ μὲν γὰρ ἐπὶ τῶν ϰαθαγισμῶν ϰαὶ αὐτοὶ ὁρᾶτε, οἶμαι, ὡς τὸ μὲν νοστιμώτατον τῶν παρεσϰευασμένων ὁ ϰαπνὸς παραλαβὼν ἄνω εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν οἴχεται μηδέν τι ἡμᾶς ὀνήσας τοὺς ϰάτω, τὸ δὲ ϰαταλειπόμενον, ἡ ϰόνις, ἀχρεῖον, ἐϰτὸς εἰ μὴ τὴν σποδὸν ἡμᾶς σιτεῖσθαι πεπιστεύϰατε.

55 Cf. e.g. SGO I 03/07/19, 6 (Erythrai, 1st cent. AD), 03/02/65. 3-6 (Ephesos, 2nd or 3rd cent. AD), 06/03/01. 6-11 (Stratonikeia in Kaikos, Imperial period); Kaibel, o.c. (n. 46), 647. 1-2 (Rome, perhaps 4th cent. AD).

56 Strubbe, l.c. (n. 37), p. 54: “It is quite possible that the consolatory themes entered the epigrams from literary consolations. Ideas from philosophical literature may have been inserted in collections of examples of funerary poems during the Imperial period. It is well known that the writers of epigrams made use of models; this explains why so many reminiscences of classical authors (Homer, Euripides, Kallimachos, etc.) appear in these poems.” The idea goes back to Kassel, o.c. (n. 2), p. 50. See also n. Ehrhardt, “Tod, Trost und Trauer. Zur Funktion griechischer Trostbeschlüsse und Ehrendekrete post mortem”, Laverna 5 (1994), p. 47-48.

57 H.W. Pleket, “Troostdecreten: een maatschappelijk verschijnsel”, in H.F.J. Horstmanshoff (ed.), Pijn en balsem, troost en smart. Pijnbeleving en pijnbestrijding in de Oudheid, Rotterdam, 1994, p. 147-156, esp. p. 151.

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Seminar für Alte Geschichte und Epigraphik Marstallhof 4 D – 69117 Heidelberg E-mail: mailto:m_skountakis@yahoo.gr

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