National Geographic June 1988: The Eternal Etruscans

Last rites for an Etruscan aristocrat

Smoothing the way to the hereafter with rose petals and sweet music, wealthy Etrus- cans lay a departed relative in the family tomb across from the remains of one who has gone on before. To ensure that the next life is as pleasant as that on earth, the tomb is stocked with jewels, clothing, and other pried possessions. Re-creating the images found in the Tomb of the Blue Demons, this rendering depicts wall paintings typical of both early and late Etruscan tomb art. On the left wall the bearded deceased is pictured in a procession of friends and musicians. On the back wall he is seen with his spouse at a joyful banquet. In stark contrast, the scene on the right wall reflects a sinister change in the Etruscan concept of death that is now thought to have emerged as early as the 5th century BC. On the verge of decline, they began to adopt the Greek vision of a demon-infested underworld, approached by crossing the River Styx with Charon, ferryman of Haydes.

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