|>>At a funeral during the Roman Republic, there were grave formalities to be observed: The procession was led by musicians, followed by sons with veiled heads and bareheaded daughters. Men wore the masks of their ancestors and put on the garments that typified the high offices held by those ancestors. According to Plutarch and Polybius, an effigy of the dead man wearing his own mask was carried on a funeral bed.|
For Romans (and other traditional peoples), the dead have not entirely gone away. They may, in the manner of Greek heroes, bless their descendants and people in the neighborhood, or, if they are offended, they may prove troublesome. Once a year at the Parentalia (nine days in February), Roman families honored their ancestors, whose shades (Manes) were brought offerings, and exorcised any malevolent intentions that might have been provoked. Ovid tells the traditional tale (which he does not believe) that when on one occasion the rites had not been observed, ghosts left their tombs and threatened Rome. [Fasti II 533 ff.] In May they celebrated the Lemuria, whose rites were generally aimed at exorcizing evil spirits. Traditional Catholics preserve this understanding of the awesome dead by celebrating All Saints and All Souls.