INTERMENT, the burial of a dead body in the earth. The manner of dis posing of the bodies of the dead has varied in different nations; but the most general modes have been interment in the earth and burning on a funeral pile. The practice of burying is probably the oldest mode, and with most nations has been the ordinary mode of sepulture ; but the custom of burning the body, and afterwards collecting the ashes and de positing them in a tomb or urn, became very general among the Greeks and Ro mans. Among the Greek nations, how ever, both the burning of the dead and the interment of dead bodies in the earth were practised. The Romans in the earlier periods of their history certainly buried their dead It is recorded that Sulla was the first member of the Cor nelia gens who was burnt. The Egyp tians do not seem to have ever adopted the practice of burning the dead ; and though, as we have observed, burning became common among the Greeks and Romans, it seems that interment was always practised by the lower orders among the Romans. At Rome bodies were sometimes buried in pits (puticuli), or thrown to decay in certain unfre quented places.(Varro, De Ling. Lat. v. 25 ; Horace, 1, Sat. v. 8, &c.) Tacitus (xvi. 6) speaks of the embalming and interment of Poppies, the wife of Nero, as a deviation from the general prac tice. The practice of burning the dead appears to have gradually gone into disuse under the Empire ; and probably it was never practised by the Christians.
A Constitution of the Emperor Justi nian (A.11. 537) regulated the expense of funerals in Constantinople. The con stitution refers to prior legislation of Constantine and Anastasius. The object of the regulation is well expressed in the following words :—It was to " secure men against the double calamity of losing their friends, and at the same time incur ring heavy pecuniary liabilities on their account." Provision was made for se curing interment to each person free of cost, and for protecting the surviving friends from the extortion of those who buried the dead. Funds were appro priated for the purpose of interment, which was conducted by persona ap pointed for the purpose, and with decency, but at little cost. All persons were to be buried alike, with some small allowance in favour of those who wished for a little more display at their own cost ; but even this additional expense was limited; and it is said, " thus there will be nothing undetermined ; but both those who wish to have funerals on a moderate scale will enjoy the advantages of our rule, and those who wish for more liberal arrange ments will not be mulcted heavily, and will be enabled to show their liberality at moderate cost" The whole Constitution is very curious ; but a full explanation of it would require some labour. The ob
jects of it have, however, been sufficiently stated here. The means by which they were accomplished would not be suitable to this country. (Novell, 59.) At Bombay, says Niebuhr (Reisebe schreibung, &c. ii. 50), "the Parsees have a peculiar manner of interring their dead. They do not choose to rot in the earth like the Jews, Christians, and Moham medans, nor be burnt like the Indians ; but they let their dead be digested in the stomachs of birds of prey. They have at Bombay a round tower on a mountain at some distance from the city, which is co vered on the top with planks. Here they place their dead, and after the birds of prey have eaten the flesh, they collect the bones below in the tower, and the bones of the men and women in separate ves sels." Herodotut, (i. 140) says of the antient Magi that they never interred their dead till they were torn by birds or dogs. In Herbert's ' Travels' (ed. 1638, p. 54), there is a representation of one of these Parsee towers. Some nations have eaten the aged and also killed and eaten those who were attacked by disease, and thus anticipated the trouble of interment. This revolting practice is established on sufficient evidence (Herodotus, i. 216, iii. 99; London Geograp. Journal, ii. 199; Bernice, Penny Cyclopedia.) Dr. Ley den states that the Battas frequently eat their aged, or infirm relatives as an act of pions duty. The Battas are not a fero cious, but a quiet and timid people. Nie buhr says in a note to the extract given just above, "At Constantinople I heard, that in the southern part of Russia there is a people who think that they can show to their dead friends and relations no greater honour than to eat them. So dif ferent are the opinions of mankind." These are, however, singular excep tions to the general practices of all na tions. Among the Europeans and those descendants of Europeans who have set tled in parts beyond Europe, the inter meat of the dead in the earth is the universal practice. It was proposed, indeed, to revive the practice of burning daring the French revolution, but the proposal was not adopted. It has also been the practice of all nations called civilized, and perhaps of most nations called barbarous, to treat the dead with decency, and to accompany the funeral ceremony with religious rites.