These usages are attested in the most formal manner. “I pour upon the earth of the tomb,” says Iphigenia in Euripides, “milk, honey, and wine; for it is with these that we rejoice the dead.”10 Among the Greeks there was in front of every tomb a place destined for the immolation of the victim and the cooking of its flesh.11 The Roman tomb also had its culina, a species of kitchen, of a particular kind, and entirely for the use of the dead.12 Plutarch relates that after the battle of Platæa, the slain having been buried upon the field of battle, the Platæans engaged to offer them the funeral repast every year. Consequently, on each anniversary they went in grand procession, conducted by their first magistrates to the mound under which the dead lay. They offered the departed milk, wine, oil, and perfumes, and sacrificed a victim. When the provisions had been placed upon the tomb, the Platæans pronounced a formula by which they called the dead to come and partake of this repast. This ceremony was still performed in the time of Plutarch, who was enabled to witness the six hundredth anniversary of it.13 A little later, Lucian, ridiculing these opinions and usages, shows how deeply rooted they were in the common mind. “The dead,” says he, “are nourished by the provisions which we place upon their tomb, and drink the wine which we pour out there; so that one of the dead to whom nothing is offered is condemned to perpetual hunger.”14 These are very old forms of belief, and are quite groundless and ridiculous, and yet they exercised empire over man during a great number of generations. They governed men’s minds; we shall soon see that they governed societies even, and that the greater part of the domestic and social institutions of the ancients was derived from this source.
Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges (The Ancient City - Imperium Press: A Study on the Religion, Laws, and Institutions of Greece and Rome (Traditionalist Histories))