Continuing on in Jeremy Taylor’s book on Holy Dying, he gives some history of how different cultural things were done to remind the rich rulers that life is short; pretty interesting.
"He that would die well must always look for death, every day knocking at the gates of the grave; and then the gates of the grave shall never prevail upon him to do him mischief.
This was the advice of all the wise and good men of the world, who especially in the days and periods of their joy and festival egressions would choose to throw some ashes into their chalices, being a somber remembrance of their fatal period.
Such was the black shirt of Saladine; and the tomb-stone that was presented to the Emperor of Constantinople on his Coronation day; also the Bishop of Rome’s two reeds with flax and a wax-taper. The Egyptian Skeleton served up at feasts; and at Trimalcion’s banquet in which was brought in the image of a dead man’s bones of silver, with spondyles (a mollusk bristling with quills) exactly turning to every guest, and saying to every one, that You and you must die.
These in fantastic semblances declare a severe counsel and useful meditation; and it is not easy for a man to be gay in his imagination, or to be drunk with joy or wine, pride or revenge, who considers sadly that he must ere long dwell in a house of darkness and dishonor, and his body must be the inheritance of worms, and his Soul must be what he pleases, even as a man makes it here by living good or bad."