Which Bearded Mythological Character Is More Buff?

The face of the Owen and Ann Cwathmey Monument at the Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky

There are many images of Death at the door.  The question when the door opens is, “Who is knocking—is it the Grim Reaper or is it Father Time?”

The differences between the two are subtle, especially since they are both often seen with the same instruments—the hourglass and the scythe.  The main difference is in body type and clothing.

Father Time is a good eater and, as so, is usually depicted as a portly figure whereas the Grim Reaper spends more time at the gym and is more svelte and in shape—often depicted without a shirt exposing a muscular body.  Swinging the scythe while harvesting souls is a great ab exercise.

Father Time is often depicted wearing a long robe as he ushers out the passing year while the Grim Reaper is seen sporting a cloth around his lower regions.

SENG-EICHER sun dial marker–It is appropriate for Father Time to be on and instrument of Time!

So, now when you hear the knocking, you’ll know the difference when you open the door!

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Victorian Melange, Take 2

 

SEBASTIANO ORSINI

BORN IN SIRACUSA, ITALY, FEB. 3. 1873.

DIED IN SAVANNAH, JAN. 9. 1918.

A TRUE AND KIND MAN.  A FAITHFUL

HUSBAND, LIVED A QUITE BUT USEFUL

LIFE, AND DIED REGRETTED BY ALL

WHO KNEW HIM.

 

SALVATRICE ORSINI

BORN IN SIRCUSA, ITALY

FEB. 21, 1875

DIED IN SAVANNAH, GA.

AUG. 10, 1953

MAY HER SOUL REST IN PEACE

The white marble gravestone of Sebastiano and Salvatrice Orsini in the Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia, is a Victorian mélange of symbolism—the family crest, the wreath, the scrolls, oak leaves circling the column, drapery, and the lion. The gravestone shape itself—the broken column—is a symbol.   The broken column iconography represents a life ended.  The broken column symbolizes a life cut short. Some sources say that it represents the loss of the head of the family—others that it represents the life cut down in its prime.

This elaborately carved gravestone was carved by Antonio Aliffi (188-1936) who was a well-known sculptor.  According to a book titled, Historic Bonaventure Cemetery: Photographs from the Collection of The Georgia Historical Society. Copyright 1998 by Amie Marie Wilson and Mandi Dale Johnson, Arcadia Publishing, Charleston, SC. Aliffi was born in Sicily, and descended from a long line of Italian sculptors.  Aliffi was hired to work for Walz  who owned a marble yard.  According to the book, “Aliffi was a very busy sculptor, working on projects in Savannah and around the country.  He is reported to have carved on Georgia’s Stone Mountain and Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, as well as on the ceiling of Savannah’s Lucas Theater.”

According to Historic Bonaventure Cemetery: Photographs from the Collection of The Georgia Historical Society,  “Sabastian Orsini (1873-1918) was also an Italian immigrant.  He came to Savannah around 1898 and along with several brothers was involved in the grocery business.  From 1912 to 1915, the Savannah City Directory listed him as proprietor of the Savannah Macaroni Works.”

The symbols:

Wreath

The wreath’s shape—the circle—represents eternal memory and immortality.  The wreath’s use dates back to Greek and Roman times when soldiers wore them as triumphal signs of glory.  The ancients also awarded poets and athletes wreaths as a prize.  In funerary art the wreath is seen as a symbol of victory over death.

Lion

The lion has long been a symbol of bravery, strength, and majesty. In popular culture, the lion is known for its power and is called King of the Jungle and King of the Beasts.  The lion is often used as a royal emblem, found eight times in the Royal Arms for the Queen of England alone!  The lion in funerary art symbolizes the power of God. It is often depicted flanking the entrance of a tomb to guard against evil spirits to the passageway to the next realm. It also represents the courage of the souls the lions guard. There is also a connection of the lion to the Resurrection. It was once believed that lion cubs were born dead but would come to life after three days when the cubs were breathed upon by a male lion. The three days is significant because it is the number of days Jesus was in the tomb before he was resurrected.

The base that the lion stands on has four initials inscribed on its base: O. F. D. I.  Two different readers supplied an answer to the meaning of the initials: Ordina Figli D’Italia or “The Sons of Italy.”  Often a member of that fraternal organization will have a metal marker with the symbol of the lion in the center to mark their membership.  Orsini’s grave did not have the marker below as the symbol was carved into the face of his gravestone.

Drapery

Some sources say that drapery with a fringe represents the veil between one realm and another—Earth and Heaven.

Scroll

The scroll represents both the life of the deceased and the time spent on Earth. The scroll is unfurled, most likely representing the life that is being recorded by the angels.

Oak leaf

According to an industry publication, The Monumental News, “The Oak is representative of Firmness and Strength while the Ivy symbolizes Memory and Friendship.  From this the reader will understand why the oak and ivy are so often arranged in a single memorial design.  The sturdy oak for Father and the clinging ivy for Mother, representing impregnable friendship, devotion and lasting memory.”

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The Angel in the Boat Redux

[?] MAY 7TH 1880 — OBIT DECEMBER 1St 1906

A PERFECT AND UPRIGHT MAN

TO THE GLORY OF GOD

IN LOVING MEMORY OF

BERT HOOF

LATE VALUED AND ESTEEMED OFFICER OF DALGETY & COY

VICE CAPTAIN MERCANTILE R CLUB

ACCIDENTLY [sic] DROWNED IN RIVER YARRA

THIS STONE IS ERECTED

AS TOKEN OF UNDYING AFFECTION

BY HIS AUNT FLORENCE PICKERING

ALSO IN LOVING MEMORY OF

ANN RELICT OF JAMES HOOF OBIT 1891

DARLING GRANDMA

Not far from the main gate of the Melbourne General Cemetery, Melbourne, Australia, on College Crescent, to the right on First Avenue, is a gravestone dedicated to Bert Hoof.  The epitaph does not tell the circumstances of his accidental drowning on the Yarra River, but on this gravestone Bert Hoof is depicted as an angel holding up the mast of the tiny boat.

My friend and super sleuth, Meredith, reads my blog and decided to see if, with a little digging, she could uncover more details about the accidental death of Bert Hoof.  She found the following article in the Saturday December 8, 1906 edition, of The Independent on page 2:

THE RIVER TRAGEDY

The circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Albert Edward Hoof, the victim of last Saturday’s boating accident on the river Yarra during the course of the rowing matches were investigated by the district coroner (Dr. Cole), at the Footscray morgue, on Monday, and Melbourne morgue on Tuesday.  In his finding, the coroner … the deceased died from asphyxia by drowning.  He had not been struck on the head or injured in any way.  He had stepped out of the boat, in spite of the fact that Mr. Warburton had told him to sit still, and that there was no danger.  It was evidently a case of where a man had lost his nerve.  The condition of the host appears to have been bad, and the deceased could not swim.  There was a notice in the Mercantile Club’s sheds to the effect that nobody unable to swim should go out in single sculling boats.  That notice might well be extended to apply to other boats.  It was very necessary that all men should learn to swim, and especially those who went on the Yarra.  The incident of the Assistant Harbour Master, speaking to Fawcett (who was diving in the nude), and telling him that ladies were present on the boat, was regrettable.  He was sure no regretted it more than the Assistant Harbour Master himself.  Modesty was a very good thing in its way: but modesty should never interfere with the chance of saving human life.  A word of praise was due to Messrs. Brown and Fawcett, who had risked their lives in the endeavour to save the deceased.  The coroner then recorded the following verdict:–“I find that on 1st December, at the junction of Coode’s Canal and the River Yarra, Albert Edward Hoof was accidently drowned.”

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The Specter of Death

Here lyeth the Body of

THEODORA ASH

who departed this Life

February 17th AD 1770

aged 17 Years

If Innocence of Virtue could Save

A liveing mortall from the Grave

Theodora thou had’n never died.

This elaborately carved 18th Century gray slate gravestone in the Colonial Park Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia, marks the grave of 17-year old Theodora Ash.  Floral embellishments decorate the shoulders of the gravestone along with a craved design enhancing the top half circle.

The omnipresent specter of the Grim Reaper is evident on this gravestone.  In the medallion of the gravestone’s lunette, Theodora Ash is depicted in an incised carving with her head titled to the left and gently leaning on her hand.  She stares straight ahead with a lifeless expression.

Framing the sculpture of the young girl is a scythe with handle to the left and the implement’s blade circling the base of the medallion portrait as if it was cutting it in half from her unseen body.  At the tip of the scythe is an hourglass, a symbol of the brevity of life and the fragility of the mortal body.

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The Grim Reaper

A large massive monolith was built to commemorate the pioneers who were buried in The Laurel Hill Cemetery in San Francisco.  The Memorial to Commemorate the California Pioneers, is dedicated to those 35,000 pioneer graves that were removed from San Francisco to the Cypress Lawn Cemetery in Colma, California.  Their removal began February 26, 1940.  A large bronze placard states, “As you stand here, open your heart to the pioneers.  They gave you great cities, a fair free land of mountains, a broad sea and the bluest of skies.  Open your heart to them, and trust the best that was in them all, and they will also give you wisdom and humor and above all, courage.  For they are your fathers.”

On the opposite side of the monolith, is a three-quarter sculpture of the grim reaper characterized by a long beard and a scythe.  The scythe is his tool for cutting down and harvesting souls.  In this sculpture the Grim Reaper is depicted as a thin bearded old man with wings.  A winged hour glass rests on his knee.

There are several expressions in the American lexicon that refer to the hourglass and express how fleeting our time on this Earth is, how this temporal life is short. The grand old soap opera, Days of Our Lives, has as their catchphrase, “Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.”  Life measured by the grains of sand slip through one side of the hourglass to the other in a flash.

The hourglass symbol on a gravestone, often shown with wings, as it here, represents the same thought of time fleeting by quickly reminding us of the expression “Time Flies”.  This symbol, a winged hourglass, brings that expression to life, so to speak.  A reminder in stone that life is short and that time is fleeting, every minute of every day brings one closer and closer to death.

Some believe that the origin of the reaper is from the Greek myth of Charon, the ferryman.  Since ancient times, the imagery of the soul crossing a river was created to explain how the soul went from one realm to the other.  This vivid imagery has long been a part of the symbolism of death in iconography and word.

In Greek mythology, the River Styx wrapped its way around Hades (the Underworld) nine times.  To cross from this life to the next, the dead had to pay with a coin to be ferried from the realm of the living to the realm of the dead.  The toll was placed in the mouth of the deceased to pay Charon, the ferryman.  It was said that if the dead person did not have the coin, he was destined to wander the shores of the River Styx for a century.

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Daughters

In Memory of

IDA

Daugh. Of

Geo. D. & A. C. ROLAND

DIED

Feb. 2. 1867

AGED

24 Yrs. 9 Mo’s.

4 D’s.

Daughter it is hard to give you up

But God has called and you must go

To dwell with jesus [sic] in those heavenly mansions

While we are left to weep here below

In the Sandhill Cemetery in the Clay Township of Bartholomew County, Indiana, is a tiny cemetery rightly named because it is sitting atop of a sand hill.  Inside the gates of the cemetery are two tablets for the two daughters of George and A. C. Roland.  Both soft, white-marble gravestones are eroded by years of weather and have lost a great deal of their detail.  Both gravestones have the same image carved into the top third of the marker—a young woman looking over an open book laying on a broad table with a man standing by the desk with one hand on the top of the book.  The man, wearing a long coat, appears to be a teacher, though it could be George Roland, the father of the young women.  The epitaphs on both gravestones are very similar but slightly different.

In Memory of

MALLIE

Daughter of

Geo. D. & A. C. ROLAND

DIED

Oct. 28, 1869

AGED

24 Yr’s. 7 Mo’s.

10 Ds.

Daughter our last can we give you up

Yes God has called and you must go

To dwell with jesus [sic] in those heavenly mansions

By and by we too will ceace [sic] weeping and go

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The Angel in the Boat

[?] MAY 7TH 1880 —  OBIT DECEMBER 1St 1906

A PERFECT AND UPRIGHT MAN

TO THE GLORY OF GOD

IN LOVING MEMORY OF

BERT HOOF

LATE VALUED AND ESTEEMED OFFICER OF DALGETY & COY

VICE CAPTAIN MERCANTILE R CLUB

ACCIDENTLY [sic] DROWNED IN RIVER YARRA

THIS STONE IS ERECTED

AS TOKEN OF UNDYING AFFECTION

BY HIS AUNT FLORENCE PICKERING

ALSO IN LOVING MEMORY OF

ANN RELICT OF JAMES HOOF OBIT 1891

DARLING GRANDMA

According to the Melbourne General Cemetery website, the sprawling graveyard covers 43 hectares (106 acres), and is one of the most historic and important cemeteries in Australia.  Melbourne General Cemetery was established in 1852 and opened in 1853, the first modern cemetery in Victoria, “designed like a large public park with wide wavy paths, separate religious areas, gate lodges, rotundas, chapels, evergreen trees and shrubs.”

Not far from the main gate on College Crescent, to the right on First Avenue, is a gravestone dedicated to Bert Hoof.  The epitaph does not tell the circumstances of his accidental drowning on the Yarra River, but on this gravestone Bert Hoof is depicted as an angel holding up the mast of the tiny boat.

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