Na(e)nia is a genre of verbal composition (cf. carmen), most commonly a chant including a eulogy, performed at a funeral to the accompaniment of pipe music by professional mourners called praeficae.1 In contrast to the formal laudatio funebris, the nenia’s praise of the deceased and its female performers were routinely mocked as insincere by comic writers.2 Ancient etymologists claimed that word nenia was equivalent of offal and rubbish as well as ending.3 Nonetheless, according to Varro, the goddess Nenia, the chant personified, presided over the final days of life (Antiq. div. fr. 161 Cardauns).4
As a dirge, nenia was used as equivalent to the Greek choral thrēnos by Horace and later could refer to a formal choral lament for an emperor (Suet. Aug. 100.2).5 No script of a funerary nenia survives; Seneca’s parody in anapaests (Apocol. 12) is the most substantial instance of the genre’s literary reception.Less
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