Dying with honor or dishonor
October 21, 2010 4:39 PM   Subscribe

What were the qualifications for an honorable or dishonorable death in the first century Mediterranean world?

I'm looking specifically for research that would say this was an honorable way to die, and this would have brought someone dishonor, in terms of attitudes or actions. I'm not interested in whether someone was dishonored by being executed, for example; but what sorts of attitudes and actions would someone exemplify in the face of death to be found honorable or dishonorable. It would also be helpful if there is any research regarding how one could regain honor, if they had lost it. For example, if one was dishonored on the battlefield, could they regain it by facing death again? Any examples from the literature of the time exemplifying these traits would be great.
posted by SpacemanStix to Society & Culture (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
A.D. or B.C.?

Among neo-platonic philosophers? Jews? (What kind of Jews?) Romans? North Africans? This is a very diverse area and time.

In Porphyry's "Against the Christians" there is criticism from hi neo-platonic perspective of how Jesus's death was unworthy, but that's an execution...
posted by Jahaza at 5:45 PM on October 21, 2010

I'm looking at the first century A.D., and either from a Roman or Jewish perspective.
posted by SpacemanStix at 5:49 PM on October 21, 2010

Well, in Rome, it was considered honorable to kill yourself rather that subject your family to the shame of your execution. Admittedly, I know this from reading a lot of Robert Graves, not any scholarly work.
posted by freshwater at 9:55 PM on October 21, 2010

I'm not sure if this would exactly answer your question, but Keith Hopkins' Death and Renewal might be a good place to start.
posted by iona at 4:55 AM on October 22, 2010

The book has been somewhat controversial, but A Noble Death by Droge & Tabor would likely have some useful material for you.
posted by Rain Man at 7:20 PM on October 22, 2010

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