Death in Ancient Rome: A Sourcebook by Valerie Hope

By Valerie Hope

Offering a variety of proper, translated texts on demise, burial and commemoration within the Roman international, this booklet is organized thematically and supported through dialogue of contemporary scholarship. The breadth of fabric incorporated guarantees that this sourcebook will make clear the way in which loss of life was once thought of and handled in Roman society.

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It was the reverse. The earlier contests were compassionate in comparison. Now the trifling is set aside and it is pure murder. The men have no armour and their entire bodies are exposed to blows, so no one strikes in vain. Many spectators prefer this to the ordinary pairings and even the contests given by popular request. Of course they prefer it! There is no helmet and no shield to stop the weapons. What is the need for armour or for skill? These things just delay death. In the morning men are thrown to the lions and bears: but it is to the spectators they are thrown at noon.

18). 17 Pliny the Elder, Natural History 25. 7. 23 Natural history: 1st c. AD. This forms part of Pliny’s discussion of medicinal uses for plants. Indeed to consider this makes one pity the lot of man; besides chance occurrences and changes and the new events that every hour brings, there are thousands of diseases that every man has to fear. To distinguish which are the most serious of them might be considered a foolish act, since every man believes that the particular disease from which he is suffering at the moment is the most atrocious.

Euodus, one of the freedmen, was appointed to watch and see that it was done. Hurrying to the gardens ahead of the rest, he found Messalina lying on the ground with her mother Domitia Lepida sitting beside her. The mother had been estranged from her daughter while she had prospered, but she was now overcome with pity by Messalina’s final need, and was advising her not to wait for the executioner: life was over and all that could be sought was decency in death. But in that heart, corrupted by lust, there was no place for honour.

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