A Roman Funeral Procession

February 11, 2020

“Look,” Bion says in THE DEADLIEST THIEF, “I can’t be sure when Phoebe will be back so let me choose the undertaker. I’ll select a burial place, hire the mourners to lead the funeral procession, and perform the rituals.”


What could Bion have had in mind? Roman funeral processions were marked by the movement of bodies, both living and dead, and the loud noise they generated. And like other aspects of Roman life, the wealthier and more famous the deceased, the flashier the funeral procession would be with mimes and musicians. For the poor, as in the image here, perhaps only one flute player would provide the music.


Professional mourners formed a large part of the procession. These were women hired to participate. They would wail loudly and literally rip out their hair and scratch their faces in mourning.


Three people die in THE DEADLIEST THIEF. After all, it is a mystery novel, and mysteries often deal with the crime of murder. But inasmuch as the book has been praised for its unexpected ending, I will say no more, only that even Miriam herself is stunned by the outcome. To peek at the book trailer, just click here.



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