11 Jan 2011

The death taboo as a form of protection

An interesting observation is made in The Egyptian Book of the Dead: The Book of Going Forth by Day (2008)[1]:
"The idea behind such euphemisms involved more than not speaking ill of the dead: an effort was made not to even speak of a person's death at all. People who are called simply 'dead' in Egyptian religious contexts often seem to be the damned or unhappy dead. To mention death would be confirm death's power over the departed, so we today euphemistically speak of 'the departed' or say that someone has 'passed away.'"
I suppose this is also true for expressions for death in Etruscan which likewise speak of 'crossing over' (lup) rather than overt death. Are any of the words that we assign to death in these inscriptions true words for death and dying or are they all circumlocutions? How might we tell if we've found the *genuine* word for 'death' in Etruscan amidst all these superstitions and euphemistic circumlocutions?


NOTES
[1] Faulkner/Andrews/Wasserman, The Egyptian Book of the Dead: The Book of Going Forth by Day (2008), p.150 (see link).

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