Book: Death's Dominion
Chapter: To Begin: The Life of the Dead is Set in the Memory of the Living
Chapter one sets the stage for the development of the Christian usage of the martyr’s grave in the fourth century. To that end, it provides a basic understanding of several pertinent features of Roman burial practices: the polluting nature of the corpse, the desire of the deceased to be remembered, the importance of location, and the intentional creation of meaning through the tomb structure. I also examine the various groups that are responsible both for the care of the dead as well as for their commemoration: the family and voluntary associations. This is the antecedent for an understanding of Christianity’s adaptation of these practices in the second and third century, especially the modification of the Church’s role as a new family of Christ and how that related to their concern for their dead.