Religion: Another Culture

Death in Ancient Rome

Life expectancy for the people of Rome was low. Babies often caught diseases that the Romans did not have cures to. Children were not named till the eighth or ninth day due in part to the high mortality rate of infants. Most poor romans were cremated and their ashes were placed into urns. These urns were kept in a building on tomb street. On special occasions, the family of the deceased would put wine into the urns so the deceased would know they were never forgotten.

Rich people were buried on tomb street, they were buried with coins in their mouths. The Romans thought that their soul would go underground to the river Styx. The soul had to cross the river. A coin was placed in the mouth of the deceased to pay Charon, who was the boatman of the underworld. If the body was not buried properly, without the coin, the soul was forced to stay there for 100 years before it could cross the river Styx. After someone died, the family would make a wax sculpture of their head. At weddings and other special occasions, these ‘imagines’ were brought out to honor the dead. This showed the deceased they were not forgotten.


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