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Pour One Out For Ya!

I expect it goes back as far as human history, and by that I mean well into prehistory, when humans were as much animals still as they were “civilized.” I’m speaking of the belief that the dead, after death, still require sustenance. Better to feed them and give them drink, lest they become angry and exert a malign influence over your life or, even worse, decide to come back and feed on *you*. We see it in the funerary goods placed inside the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs. We see it in the “hungry ghosts” celebrations still practiced in China, and in the modern Mexican “Day of the Dead” celebration.

The Romans, though, streamlined the process.

The word “libation” derives from the Latin “libare,” meaning “to sip, taste, or pour out.” To offer a libation, a small portion of wine was poured out on the ground or on a grave, to seek appeasement from the gods or the dead. In the case of the latter, the Romans placed tubes made out of lead, terracotta, or wood into the graves whereby they could pour wine, water, or beer straight into the corpse’s domicile, if not its mouth. Today the remains of such libation tubes help archaeologists to locate graves, what with them poking up out of the ground and all.

TheCheezman • January 10, 2019


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