The undertakers of ancient Rome, the Libitinarii, were so named due to the fact they dwelt near the temple of Libitina, the funerary goddess. They served the Roman populous from the temple by providing funerary requisites, performing rites, and registering all deaths for statistical purposes. None of these services were free, and they varied in complexity and pomp based on a contracted price, called the arbitria. Romans considered a dead body an impure object, capable of polluting the spirit. The Libitinarii, as servants of Libitina, were allowed to handle a corpse without fear of contamination. Normally they were responsible for the removal of jewelry, closing the eyes and the complete physical and spiritual cleansing of the corpse. For an extra fee the Libitinarii would anoint the body with oils and perfumes. Afterwards, a small coin would be placed in the mouth, in order to pay Charon his toll for ferrying the deceased across the Styx. The funeral itself, called a funera justa, would typically be a night burial attended by family members, although wealthy families could contract for a herald to announce a procession, known as a pompa funebris, which would include musicians and professional mourning women called praeficae.

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