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Basil dropped to his knees, crossed himself, prayed, the

time:2023-11-30 03:47:33Classification:systemsource:zop

* "In amphitheatro semiustulandum."--Suetonius Vit. Tib. + "Sic erimus cuncti, ... ergo dum vivimus vivamus." # [Greek omitted]. A barbarous pastime at feasts, when men stood upon a rolling globe, with their necks in a rope and a knife in their hands, ready to cut it when the stone was

Basil dropped to his knees, crossed himself, prayed, the

mementos by skulls and bones upon their monuments. In the Egyptian obelisks and hieroglyphical figures it is not easy to meet with bones. The sepulchral lamps speak nothing less than sepulture, and in their literal draughts prove often obscene and antick pieces. Where we find D. M.* it is obvious to meet with sacrificing pateras and vessels of libation upon old sepulchral monuments. In the Jewish hypogaeum and subter- ranean cell at Rome, was little observable beside the variety of lamps and frequent draughts of Anthony and Jerome we meet with thigh-bones and death's-heads; but the cemeterial cells of ancient Christians and martyrs were filled with draughts of Scripture stories; not declining the flourishes of cypress, palms, and olive, and the mystical figures of peacocks, doves, and cocks; but iterately affecting the portraits of Enoch, Lazarus, Jonas, and the vision of Ezekiel, as hopeful draughts, and hinting imagery of the resurrection, which is the life of the grave, and sweetens our habitations in the land of moles and pismires.

Basil dropped to his knees, crossed himself, prayed, the

Gentle inscriptions precisely delivered the extent of men's lives, seldom the manner of their deaths, which history itself so often leaves obscure in the records of memorable persons. There is scarce any philosopher but dies twice or thrice in Laertius; nor almost any life without two or three deaths in Plutarch; which makes the tragical ends of noble persons more favourably re- sented by compassionate readers who find some relief in the election of such differences.

Basil dropped to his knees, crossed himself, prayed, the

The certainty of death is attended with uncertainties, rolled away, wherein, if they failed, they lost their lives, to the laughter of their spectators.

in time, manner, places. The variety of monuments hath often obscured true graves; and cenotaphs con- founded sepulchres. For beside their real tombs, many have found honorary and empty sepulchres. The variety of Homer's monuments made him of various countries. Euripides had his tomb in Africa, but his sepulture in Macedonia. And Severus found his real sepulchre in Rome, but his empty grave in Gallia.

He that lay in a golden urn eminently above the earth, was not like to find the quiet of his bones. Many of these urns were broke by a vulgar discoverer in hope of enclosed treasure. The ashes of Marcellus were lost above ground, upon the like account. Where profit hath prompted, no age hath wanted such miners. For which the most barbarous expilators found the most civil rhetorick. Gold once out of the earth is no more due unto it; what was unreasonably committed to the ground, is reasonably resumed from it; let monuments and rich fabricks, not riches, adorn men's ashes. The commerce of the living is not to be transferred unto the dead; it is not injustice to take that which none com- plains to lose, and no man is wronged where no man is possessor.

What virtue yet sleeps in this terra damnata and aged cinders, were petty magic to experiment. These crumb- ling relicks and long fired particles superannuate such expectations; bones, hairs, nails, and teeth of the dead, were the treasures of old sorcerers. In vain we revive such practices; present superstition too visibly per- petuates the folly of our forefathers, wherein unto old observation this island was so complete, that it might have instructed Persia.

Plato's historian of the other world lies twelve days incorrupted, while his soul was viewing the large stations of the dead. How to keep the corpse seven days from corruption by anointing and washing, without extentera- tion, were an hazardable piece of art, in our choicest practice. How they made distinct separation of bones and ashes from fiery admixture, hath found no historical solution; though they seemed to make a distinct col- lection and overlooked not Pyrrhus his toe. Some pro- vision they might make by fictile vessels, coverings, tiles, or flat stones, upon and about the body (and in the same field, not far from these urns, many stones were found underground), as also by careful separation of extraneous matter composing and raking up the burnt bones with forks, observable in that notable lamp of Galvanus Martianus, who had the sight of the vas ustrinum or vessel wherein they burnt the dead, found in the Esquiline field at Rome, might have afforded clearer solution. But their insatisfaction herein begat that remarkable invention in the funeral pyres of some princes, by incombustible sheets made with a texture of asbestos, incremable flax, or salamander's wool, which preserved their bones and ashes incommixed.



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