Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

218 SMYRNA—EXCURSION TO MOUNT PAGUS.

Wednesday, 9th Feb.—Strolled with Mr. Arundell, whose kindness and antiquarian research keep equal pace with his many other good qualities, to the Castle of Smyrna on Mount Pagus, in pursuit of relics. Amongst the loose stones of the Amphitheatre I picked up a small one, almost triangular in shape, and of about four inches and a half long,' with the following inscription—too abrupt, I fear, to lead to any thing determinate.

* * * * I * * • ■ * *

#0X1

NEfr • •

TITO*,

AKTOH. • • •

THAXA

y^Pl A* • •

I found a second, but it was even less perfect than the one I have copied. Mr. Arundell was more fortunate, and he will, I hope, before long give the result of his accumulated researches to the public.

On our return we were overtaken by two Turks, who seemed mightily inquisitive as to the nature of our pursuits. One of them had a FUNERAL CEREMONIES OF THE GREEKS.

219

most ferocious aspect, and his conduct altogether was assuming and impudent. As we descended the Mount one gave the other a push, and out flew their ataghans—a prospect with which we were little fascinated. It seemed done for the purpose of intimidation; and immediately afterwards one of them approached me and signified by signs that my gloves had taken his fancy; however I had no fancy to part with them, and I have made a memorandum never to ascend Mount Pagus again without the accompaniment of a brace of pistols.

Thursday, 10th Feb.—I was present to-day at the funeral of a Greek boy—it was curious and interesting. The friends and relations of the deceased assemble at a certain hour, and seat themselves on the divan or on chairs around the corpse, which is placed in the centre of the room, arrayed in splendid funeral habiliments, and with its head turned toward the east; they then kiss its cold and pallid cheeks, and utter many lamentations, all of which are addressed to the body. The mother, or, if the deceased be a married man, his wife, takes the principal share in the ceremony, weeping, beating her breast, and talking to it, sometimes with gentle 220 PUNERAL CEREMONIES OP THE GREEKS.

reproaches, as if it could actually hear and understand all that was said *. When this has been acted sufficiently, the corpse is deposited on a kind of bier, and preceded by a number of papas, walking two and two, and ringing in a loud nasal tone perpetual changes upon the following words:

"Ayiog o Otoe, oyioe io^vpog, a.yioe uOavarog tXitfaov Wag, .

which signify " Holy God, holy strong One, holy Immortal, pity usand are descriptive of the three persons of the Trinity. Thus they enter the church, where the archbishop (if the

* See the translated Gesta Romanorum, Vol. I. page 73, 4. and see also the Hero and Leander of Musaeus. Thus Chapman—

"And as when funeral dames watch a dead corse
Weeping about it; telling with remorse
What pains he felt, how long in pain he lay,
How little food he ate, what he would say:
And then mix mournful tales of others' deaths,
Smothering themselves in clouds of their own breaths.
At length, one cheering other, calls for wine:
The golden bowl drinks tears from out their eyne,
As they drink wine from it; and round it goes,
Each helping other to relieve their woes."

FUNERAL CEREMONIES OF THE GREEKS.

221

deceased be of consequence, and rich enough to command the services of so great a man !) is seated on a gilded throne attached to a pillar in the centre aisle. They approach and place the body before him, exclaiming at the same time, Etc noXka, err) dsairora—" May you live many years, Lord." Aco-ttoyijc. is used only in addressing the archbishop. Two lights are burnt at the head and two at the feet of an adult, but a child has only one at the foot. They then recommence singing certain passages from the Psalms; and small waxen tapers are given to every person of respectable appearance present. The tapers are lighted and clouds of frankincense (supposed to carry in their ascent the prayers of the afflicted relatives to heaven!) are scattered lavishly about. After this the lights are extinguished, and such of the crowd as are connected with the deceased rush forward to take the last kiss: they press their lips eagerly to the cheeks, breast, &c. but principally to the cheek. The body is then carried to the grave; divested in a rude and disgusting manner of the decorations with which it had come forth, and moistened with a quantity of oil, or more

222 PRECIPITATE INTERMENT.

frequently with water upon which a small portion of oil floats. This is done by the priest, accompanied with a short prayer, from a belief that the dissolution of the body would not otherwise take place.

The Greeks bury their dead within ten hours after the vital spark appears to be extinct. If this happen in the morning they are buried before night, if toward evening they watch the corpse till daylight, and then hasten the interment. This singular precipitation has frequently been followed by revivals, which terminate in an excruciating and lingering death. The places of sepulture are a kind of small pits, capable of containing many human bodies when they are extended one above the other at full length. The pits are paved, partitioned from each other by a slight brickwork, and covered with a flat stone, upon which the names of the dead and figures symbolical of their trade or profession are engraved *. Into this, without coffin, and with scarce a shroud, the corpse is put; so that the horrible situation

* This is usual also upon the tomb-stones of the Jews: for instance, a pen and ink-stand denotes a scribe; a pair of scissors a tailor, &c. 8cc.

« ForrigeFortsett »