Funerary Oration

This piece was written by one of the participants, Peter, after the second workshop at the Petrie Museum, in response to one of the mummy portraits on display.

FUNERAL ORATION TO THE ‘RED YOUTH’ PORTRAYED ON A MUMMY MASK IN THE PETRIE MUSEUM

Peter - mummy portrait
Peter’s drawing of the mummy portrait.

“Marcus was one of my greatest friends. We played together as children and we had the same Greek tutor. I loved him like a brother and I think he loved me in the same way. When he was eighteen he went to serve in Ptolemy’s army which was engaged with the 2nd Legion Traiana Fortis. We tried to dislodge them from Alexandria but they were too strong for us and they were relieved after a few months by the 3rd Legion Cyrenaica. Marcus served with great courage but he met his match against the 3rd Legion and was killed along with 3000 others. I went out to the battlefield after the fray and eventually found his body, sadly mutilated. He had several deep wounds in his chest and neck but his face was more or less intact. We brought him here and now bury him with full military honours.

What sort of person was Marcus? In his funerary portrait he looks serious, almost menacing. But I can’t remember that. I remember jokes and laughter, endless intrigues with girls and huge celebrations where vast quantities of wine were consumed. Marcus never had any money because he was always enjoying himself too much. I can’t say he was a very brilliant student: he never did his homework, was usually late for school and often absent on some unlikely pretext. But he passed the test for Ptolemy’s army, so he clearly was no slouch. He was an excellent horseman and a formidable swordsman.

I will miss him terribly and I know his family are totally bereft. May the verdict of his judges in the final reckoning be favourable and his journey to the next world be safe and happy.”

 

What will inspire you to write? Come to one of our free workshops at the Great North Museum on 9th and 10th May to find an object that inspires you. Come along on the day or book a place: rememberingromans@gmail.com

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