December 15th, 2007

Cry Me A River

The archeological museum in Lacco Ameno has a collection of glass vials that are said to have been used in the Roman period to collect the tears of mourners at funerals, and then placed in the grave afterward. The King James version of the Old Testament makes a reference to this, in Psalm 56:8, when David asks God, “Thou tellest my wanderings, put thou my tears in Thy bottle; are they not in Thy Book?” This suggests the practice predates the birth of Christ by more than 1000 years.

It's said that wealthy families hired groups of women to cry into these blown glass vials as they walked in the mourning procession to the necropolis. Those crying the loudest and producing the most tears earned the most money. The more anguish and tears produced, the more important the dead person was perceived to be.