What would be more appropriate theme in these darkening December days than death?  Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies organises the symposium Death in Literature that starts tomorrow. The papers at the symposium discuss the representations of death and dying in literature. The papers ranges widely, embracing literature in its totality, from Antiquity till the modern times.
This means that ancient Greco-Roman literature is included. I will speak about the late antique funerary poems with the title ”Singing Life and Death – Funerary poems on Late Antique epitaphs (300-400 C.E.)”. And it is perhaps no surprise that part of the paper will deal with the ever-inspiring funerary poem of Praetextatus and Paulina. Praetextatus, once again …
My abstract:
Singing Life and Death – Funerary poems on Late Antique epitaphs (300-400 C.E.)
My paper aims to analyse the culture of death in the Late Roman Empire (300-400 C.E.). I will discuss Latin funerary poems on both Christian and non-Christian epitaphs.
Christian and non-Christian poems shared a number of formulae and expressions concerning death and immortality, for instance, ideas of the celestial origin and the astral immortality of the human soul. Christians adapted and adopted a variety of ideas and images from pagan conceptions of immortality. Expressions concerning the posthumous life were connected with contemporary representations of the universe. We can speak of a common language with such catchphrases as heaven, Tartarus, immortality, eternity, the communion of the holy and salvation. In my paper, I will compare these expressions, discussing some funerary poems in detail.
In my discussion on the shared expressions of immortality and afterlife, I will take part in the scholarly discussion on the relationship between the form and the content. Do the similarities at the level of form imply the metabolism of the basis? Can we separate the form and the content as simply as sometimes have been done in the research of the late antique funerary poems?

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