Hail passers by,
He who lies beneath this stone once lived,
Now he’s died as he knew he always would,
Since the moment his mother pushed him from the womb into the world.
His body is cold, his eyes are rot and mould,
And now he spends eternity beneath the earth,
Withered and decaying like the flower or manure
For with the mulch of both these things he becomes one.
This poem follows a quote from one of the most morbid gravestones I have ever heard of.
What is the point of saying “hail, passers by”?
Life is what you see here;
A singing cicada stops soon;
A rose blossoms, but it soon withers;
A skin has been bound, now unfastened it has given up its air;
When alive the mortal speaks, when he dies he is cold;
The soul is carried away, and I have been dissolved’.
It is from funery epigram I, Perinthos 145. I found it in Erskine’s ‘A Companion to Hellenistic History’, 2003, on page 432. Honestly, I can’t remember ever reading that book, but I’m sure it was great fun*.
The Hapless Neo-Romantic
*This may be a lie. Even though my degree requires me to read many books, not remembering one at all suggests it was fairly dull. But if that’s your thing, then it’s kind of insulting that you’re reading this blog.