Page:A short history of social life in England.djvu/46

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26
NEEDS OF THE DEAD

animals to tear one another to pieces—not only bears and bulls, but elephants, tigers, giraffes, and even serpents. Three or four hundred bears might be killed in a single day. Criminals would be thrown to maddened bulls—"butcher'd to make a Roman holiday"; possibly in Britain also.

As in the case of the Stone Man and the Celt, we look into the tombs of the dead to learn the manners and customs of the living. The Romans dealt with their dead either by cremation or burial in wooden, clay, or lead coffins placed in stone sarcophagi The Christian ideal was dawning slowly, and the old superstition was still deeply rooted in the minds of the people that articles of various kinds buried in the tombs would add to the comfort of the departed spirits. The dead were clothed in full dress with their jewels and personal ornaments, while in their mouth was placed a coin for the payment of Charon, the ferryman of the nether regions. Often wine and food were placed on or near the coffin, and the idea of action in the future life is manifested by the attention paid to the sandals, which were invariably placed by the dead body. Pathetic enough are the Latin inscriptions on some of the little tombs: