Thanatology Review

Electronic Journal


Volume 17

Number 2 · 2013

Original article


Dr. iur., kandidátus/PhD

Mors acerba. How did the Romans experience child death?

Abstract · The objective of this study is to provide an overview of the specific features of bereavement of children, mainly of those under ten, by analysing various historical sources from the ancient Roman times, such as epitaphs, legal documents and texts. The objectivity of grief concerning children's death was based on the fact that the infant and child mortality rate was very high in ancient Rome. For this reason, all parents had a realistic chance of losing their child. Roman law recognized the institution of mandatory mourning after the decease, during which the close family members could not attend certain public and state-relevant procedures. Due to these strict regulations and probably also as a kind of coping mechanism, mandatory mourning either did not apply to children at all, or the mourning period was significantly shorter than for adults. The above-mentioned provisions of the law are related to the idea of stoicism which claims that nature donates and reclaims life by its own consideration, and the wise merely accept this destiny. However, other historical sources show another kind of approaching the bereavement of children, which provides a specific contrast with the ideas mentioned above; an open expression of pain due to the loss of the child. Some parents who have lost their child were mainly mournful because their son or daughter could not fulfil their parents’ hope of growing up to become a duty-conscious citizen of ancient Rome. Compared to this expression, the characteristic features of toddlerhood, such as unconditional love or joy, are less depicted in the historical sources.


kulturális antropológus - vaisnava teológus

Death and Krishna consciousness without limits

Abstract · The real problem of life is the repetition of birth and death, which is just like a wheel constantly moving up and down. As soon as someone gets in touch with the supreme personality of God, this wheel stops. So if people merge into devotional service forever, with the help of transcendental happiness which comes from this they can get rid of the material existence. Every educated person knows this. So my dear friend, oh, sons of Ashura, start immediately to meditate through the Upper Soul who is present in everybody’s hearth and love Him. (SB.7.7.37)This study introduces Vaishnavism's image of death, burial rituals and the hospice service of those who believe in Krishna, embedded in three different cultures. In the first part it gives a short historical view of ISKCON, later of the ancient Hindu “last ritual”. After this it introduces through interviews how people who believe in Krishna think about death in three communities: in Hungary, in Indonesia and in India.