Ancient Greek Burial Customs

The ancient Greeks held firm beliefs of the afterlife and the ceremonies that would help guide those recently departed toward it. In fact, by the 6th century BC, their conceptions and ideas were already well established and this is evident throughout their writings, works of art, statuary and other archaeological materials. While the images and quirks of the Greek gods may seem fanciful to many nowadays, they have far outlived the people of the time and are still very much a part of popular culture today.

greek burial

According to the belief system of the ancient Greeks, they held it as true that from the moment death occurred, the spirit would vacate the mortal body via a small action, such as a puff of air or as a sigh. Once this had occurred, the body would then be prepared for burial, which would be performed according to the traditions and customs passed down through generations. To deprive a man of proper burial rights was seen as an insult to dignity and respect.


Typically, all burial rituals were conducted by the female relatives of the departed. This would consist of 3 parts, all of which completed the ritual.  The first step, called Prothesis, would involve the body of the dead being washed thoroughly, and then covered with oil. The body would then be dressed and taken to the highest bed in the house where they were laid. Family and friends could then visit and pay their respects.


The next step is called Ekphora.  Ekphora is the moment when the body of the deceased was taken to the cemetery as part of a dawn procession. Inside the grave, it would be rare to place any objects other than the body itself. Once the grave had been filled and the earth replaced, elaborate markers were placed on top of the site. Statues were often a marker of choice to help ensure that the dead were not easily forgotten. In a way, these were the predecessors to headstones that many people have today.


Their belief was that to be remembered by the living was tantamount to immortality. From engravings of the time, it is known that female family members would visit the burial sites of the dead with small offerings, such as cakes and flowers.


The 3rd part of the ritual was Stelai, which were small inscriptions covering memorandums to help honor the dead. An image of the deceased would also often be inscribed onto the marker, and if the person was of importance, their servant, pet dogs, belongings, etc would be added to it. This used to make identifying the dead easy, but as time progressed, more and more family members would be added to images and writings and soon it would become almost impossible to know who the grave belonged to.


As the end of the 5th century BC approached, many ancient Greek families started to bury the deceased inside a basic stone sarcophagus, which would be put into the ground located inside of specially created grave precincts. These grave precincts were placed inside terraces and were buttressed by a tall wall which would face the main cemetery street. It was also around this time that any large monuments and statues were placed to the side of the terrace instead of directly above the graves. As time moved forward, so did the customs and cultures of the ancient Greeks.


If you see modern day cemeteries in Greece, you will quickly notice that many of the traditions and practices from this period of time are still very much used to some degree or another, and the dead are immortalized through the memories of the era they were once a part of.


Some Things They Never Tell You About Becoming a Parent

Becoming a parent can be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling rites-of-passage in your life. To pass on your DNA to the next generation, who will hopefully improve the world for the better leaves you feeling proud and that you’ve truly accomplished something great with your life. Of course, not everyone wants to be a parent and some might say kudos to you for helping keep the population down. All too often many parents forget that to have children is a choice and one that needs to be made with care.


So, you have heard about how fulfilling it is to become a parent, how wonderful it feels to see your baby, to experience that love, all of those positives keep blowing up your Facebook feed… but what about the secret dark side to it all? What don’t they tell parents before baby arrives?

Financial Bliss

Well, they don’t tell you that every cent you earn will be swallowed by a non-stop eating, pooping, and crying machine. Sure, you love the little tyke regardless, but it would have been nice to have known just how expensive kids really are.

Better sell those grown-up toys you keep in your garage! A boat, fishing tackle, motorcycle, mountain bike – those are the possessions of non-parents (at least when the kids are babies).  You’ll need the money you get from selling your playthings to put into baby’s playthings – and budget some for a 529 or other college savings plan.


Another thing they don’t tell you is how the wrong color drinking straw can be the end of the world and completely ruin your day. Or that a face-down screaming protest in the canned goods aisle at the supermarket is something you’ll likely experience. These moments will test your will.  All the baby advice books tell you to stand firm and not give in to your child’s tantrums, but when you’re in the trenches and your eardrums are waiving the white flag, you’re going to have yours periods of weakness and surrender for the sake of a “quiet-fix”.

A New Appreciation for Earplugs

While we are talking about quiet, it will soon become a word that seems to exist only in print. Where did quiet go? They don’t tell you how much you will miss relative silence and that you will savor every last second of it when it comes along. And make sure you do savor it because you can guarantee that in 3, 2, 1, someone is either screaming or crying again. As a heads-up, you’ll also find that the noisiest toys are the most popular in your house.  And your child won’t get bored pushing the button to repeat whatever ear-piercing sounds she currently finds herself enamored with.  So picture alternating screams with singing dolls and that is the horror movie soundtrack your life has now become.

The Fibbing

Talking about your dishonesty here, not the child’s!  They fail to tell you that you will never be able to eat chocolate again in plain sight, and must resort to stealth tactics and trickery in order to do so.  Someone else needs it more, after all, and so you will have to retreat to a closet, bathroom or garage when you indulge, while claiming to be “looking for something”.  Other fabrications you’ll employ: the ice-cream truck is coming, and you tell your kids that the music means it’s sold out. You see them eyeing up your dessert, so you tell them that they won’t like it because it’s too spicy. You tell them to be good, or Santa won’t come, or the Tooth Fairy, or the Easter bunny! Lies become commonplace and easy all of a sudden.

But the thing is, none of this matters when you and your kid are laughing and playing together. When you sit and clean up their cuts and scrapes, your protective nature kicks in. When they make you that first breakfast in bed, or simply hug you and say they love you.  They tell you that everything is worth it, and they are right. They tell you that it’s rewarding, and it is, even if we do miss that chocolate, money, Foosball table, and quiet moments. Would you change anything? Absolutely not!