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Wednesday, April 22 • 9:40am - 10:00am
Embodying the Dead: Ancestor Masks and Worship in Aristocratic Roman Funerals

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Aristocratic funerals in Rome were highly ritualized and interactive processions that celebrated the life of the deceased and his predecessors. By law and tradition, the men of the elite families would pass on wax portrait masks of their ancestors known as imagines, which were worn by actors portraying the dead during the funeral parade. These funerary masks were used as transformative objects of embodying the spirits of the dead. Not only did the actors adopt the likeness of the deceased, they wore his clothes, and took on mannerisms and personality traits known to the individual. Using anthropological theory on masks and sources written during the Republic and Empire, the goal of this presentation is to demonstrate how the Romans hired actors to not only portray the dead but to literally embody their ancestors in a performative, “magical,” and religious ritual that went beyond the enforcement of social hierarchy in Rome


Wednesday April 22, 2015 9:40am - 10:00am PDT
406 Wilma Sherrill Center