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Our last note, about Lincoln's death, transitions us to our next theme, Places of Burial.

tumulus (plural tumuli) – an ancient burial mound

Two examples follow. Our first is a literal usage, older, and floridly long-winded. Our second is more modern and is nicely figurative. One can imagine tossing out the word this way in ordinary speech.
    The shadow of the Saxon hero-king still walks there fitfully, reviewing the scenes of his youth and lovetime, and is met by the gloomier shadow of the dreadful heathen Dane who was stabbed in the midst of his warriors by the sword of an invisible avenger and who rises on autumn evenings like a white mist from his tumulus on the hill and hovers in the court of the old Hall by the river-side …
    – George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss

    … the string-tied packages of laundry were stacked, shirts-uppermost where they formed a blue tumulus reaching almost to the roof.
    – James Herriot, All Things Wise and Wonderful

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From Latin carnalis relating to flesh. My understanding is that these terms convey the sense of "disgusting", particularly "disgusting smell".

charnel house – a building or vault in which corpses or bones were piled [originally, a place for the bones thrown up when digging new graves in old burial ground]
charnel – a charnel house; also, adj.: of the dead
    "Everything's wet," Dr. Stubbs observed with revulsion. "Even the latrines and urinals are backing up in protest. The whole goddam world smells like a charnel house."
    – Joseph Heller, Catch-22

    My fancy grew charnel. I talked "of worms, of tombs, and epitaphs." I was lost in reveries of death, and the idea of premature burial held continual possession of my brain.
    – Edgar Allan Poe, The Premature Burial
 
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quote:
Our last note, about Lincoln's death, transitions us to our next theme, Places of Burial.

Monday night the History channel featured a story about how a group of counterfeiters attempoted to steal Lincoln's body, and hold it for ransom. The plan failed but, in 1876, they did succeed in removing the lead-lined coffin from the sarcophagus inside its mausoleum. But the tale of Lincoln's body didn't end there.

The caretaker didn't know what to do with the casket, which could not be returned to the damaged container. So he put the coffin in a storage room, covered it with boards to resemble a woodpile, and left it there for two years. After worrying about what to do for that time, he told some higher-ups and they quietly buried Lincoln in the room just a few inches below the surface. When Mary Lincoln died, her body was also buried in the storage room next to Lincoln, a fact not told to the public.

But the memorial site was unstable and in danger of collapse. In 1901, it had to be torn down, so Lincoln, his wife,and their three sons and one grandson (who now reposed in various portions of the memorial), were all disinterred while a new memorial on the burial site was constructed. The bodies were temporarily buried in a large hole near the gravesite.

Once completed, plans were made for re-burial but Lincoln's sole surviving son refused to allow his father's body to be placed in the same sarcophagus from which it had been removed by the thieves, citing security problems. Instead, Lincoln had another private burial in a hole under the building, ten feet deep with a steel cage covered with concrete to foil further kidnappers.

Abraham Lincoln, may he now rest in peace.


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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Let us not forget the positive aspect of the stem, related to "carnal desire."

The "scent of flesh" can go both ways...


RJA
 
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Our last quote, from Edgar Allan Poe's The Premature Burial, reminds me of a recent word-of-the-day: taphephobia, the fear of being buried alive. In that same spirit I'll unearth another word in the same Poetic vein, a cryptic word very rarely used. Its appearances are almost exclusively in word-lists (including references to the Scripps Spelling Bee, in which it was the 1996 winning word).

vivisepulture – an act or instance of burying someone alive
    [discussing the punishment of solitary confinement:]
    It is not at first very obvious why mere solitude should be such a real and dreadful punishment. … It required experience and a long series of hideous experiments in vivi-sepulture, to make us realise that the human brain – and more especially a thinking one – has that strange quality of self-consumption. … [S]olitary imprisonment prolonged beyond certain limits is impossible except at a terrible cost. The price is that the prison becomes the antechamber to the madhouse, or leads even to the tomb.
    – George Ives, A History of Penal Methods (1917)
(All puns intended!)
 
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We just talked of vivisepulture, or burial-while-still-alive. Believe it or not, there is another word, in that same gruesome vein, referring to a kind of cremation-while-still-alive.

suttee – a Hindu widow who immolates herself on the funeral pyre [see below] with her husband's body; also, such immolation
[Some say from a root meaning "true", akin to English sooth and forsooth; some say akin to essence and ultimately, to to be. Perhaps all these are related?]

Two prominent authors provide our examples, one literal, the other figurative and very deep.
    "I feel so alone since Lennie passed. … All our old friends try to stay still friendly, but I can tell my presence pains them. I just don't fit any more. I'm utterly unimportant to everybody. I can see why the Indians—the Asian ones, not ours—invented suttee."
    – John Updike, The Widows of Eastwick

    His men anyway assumed and accepted this; after the sleepless night, the tenseness, the holiday, the suttee of volition's surrender, they were almost at the pitch where they might die for him, if occasion arose.
    – William Faulkner, Light in August
pyre – a heap of combustible material, esp. one for the ritual cremation of a corpse [not limited to Hindu customs]
[from Greek pur fire]
    A man in royal livery was carrying a burning log toward the second pyre where the other Lollard leader was tied to the tall stake.
    – Bernard Cornwell, Agincourt
Since we're discussing Hindu cremation, I might as well throw in an obscure word on that subject.

ghaut; ghat – a passage or steps leading to the river-side; hence, a landing-place, the place of a ford or ferry
ghat or burning-ghat – a level spot at the top of a river ghat on which Hindus burn their dead
    Chunks of wood were being built into funeral pyres on the steps of the ghat that went down into water; four bodies were burning on the ghat steps when we got there. We waited our turn.
    – Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger (Man Booker Prize)
 
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quote:
Originally posted by wordcrafter:
suttee – a Hindu widow who immolates herself on the funeral pyre [see below] with her husband's body; also, such immolation
[Some say from a root meaning "true", akin to English sooth and forsooth; some say akin to essence and ultimately, to to be. Perhaps all these are related?]


they might be
 
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That's why I love Faulkner: "...the suttee of volition's surrender,...." He mesmerizes me.
 
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This is why I love the Anglosphere:

"You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours."
-- General Sir Charles James Napier


RJA
 
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The most interesting form of today's word is its adjective form sepulchral, listed last.

sepulcher; sepulchre – a burial vault (also, a receptacle for sacred relics, especially in an altar). verb: to place into a sepulcher; inter
    Dear Bess: Well I'm here in the White House, the great white sepulcher of ambitions and reputations. I feel like last year's bird's nest which is on its second year.
    – opening words of Harry S Truman's letter, to his wife Bess, on becoming President on FDR's death. Dec. 28, 1945 (And by the way, my Harry S Truman is not a typo. The "S" did not stand for anything longer, and had no period after it.)
Other forms:
noun only: sepulture – the act of interment; burial (also, "sepulcher" (noun), as above)
adj. sepulchral – of or relating to a sepulcher, or, suggestive of the grave; funereal
    He wagged his finger at Bernard. "Before it's too late. A word of good advice." (His voice became sepulchral.) "Mend your ways, my young friend, mend your ways."
    – Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
[All ultimately from Latin sepelire to bury the dead. There are related obscure/obsolete terms look even more like this Latin: sepelition – burial; sepelible – admitting of burial.]
 
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Vivisepulture for live burial in earth, suttee for live cremation... Don't forget the water ones, depending if one is out at sea or shorebound: plankwalking and being concretely overshod. Roll Eyes

While I'm not surprised it's very rare, surprised at least a few examples of "vivisepulture" haven't appeared in a few archeological or historical documents. There were Christian ascetics who practiced it, the East Asian rite of creating Living Buddhas this way, and of course the Egyptian tendancy to shove the pharaohs' wives & slaves in with them. Maybe someone lost that page from the guild's book of jargon and cant?

By the way, while going through the intellectual exercise of trying to recall anything that could be deemed a "live wind burial" (finishing the classical elements), was reminded of the routine a la Fay Wray & the myth of Andromeda. Anyone know if some group ever really did tie out victims as sacrifices for imagined gods or monsters? Or if there was a term for it?

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Some recent documentaries have shown mummies discovered at high altitudes in the Andes, apparently the remains of young girls sacrificed to the gods. Whether they were left there alive, since they were drugged, is still a question to be resolved.


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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"Ashes to ashes; dust to dust." To remember today's ash-word, cinerary, think of the word incinerate from the same "ash" root. (Oddly, the word cinder is completely unrelated.)

cinerary – pertaining to ashes, esp. of cremated body [usually used in referring to a cinerary urn]
    In the library where I've been working, you can find nearly every word that survives from ancient Rome … . The aisles are narrow and the ceilings low; and there are no windows; it calls to mind a Roman columbarium, where cinerary urns were packed tightly in niches.
    – Cullen Murphy, Are We Rome?: The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America
Bonus word:
columbarium
– a building with niches, in its walls, for cinerary urns; also, such a niche
[from Latin meaning "dove". What's the connection? Well, another meaning of columbarium is "a pigeon-house or dove-cote"]
    . . ."Were you thinking of internment or incineration?"
    . . ."Pardon me?"
    . . ."Buried or burned?"
    . . ."Burned, I guess."
    . . ."I have some photographs here of various styles of urn."
    . . ."The best will be good enough."
    . . ."Would you require a niche in our columbarium or do you prefer to keep the remains at home?"
    . . ."What you said first."
    – Evelyn Waugh, The Loved One

    [in an attorney's office:] … the usual intimidating atmosphere of such places: the learned volumes, … the mournful box-files of dead cases ranged high around the room like the urns of an overpopulated columbarium. The old solicitor looked severely up.
    – John Fowles, The French Lieutenant's Woman
Some obscure tidbits:
Apparently, in ancient roman buildings a niche for a cinerary urn is called an ambitus. For the middle ages ambitus (or the alternative term enfeu) means a larger niche to hold a coffin. I've found these two words in specialized architectural dictionaries, but not in OED or other general dictionaries.

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