Greek and Roman Ghost Stories

Lacey Collison-Morley
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Greek and Roman Ghost Stories

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Lacy Collison-Morley
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Title: Greek and Roman Ghost Stories
Author: Lacy Collison-Morley

Release Date: November 30, 2005 [eBook #17190]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK GREEK
AND ROMAN GHOST STORIES***
E-text prepared by Suzanne Lybarger, Janet Blenkinship, Brian Janes,
and the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team
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GREEK AND ROMAN GHOST STORIES
by
LACY COLLISON-MORLEY
Formerly Scholar of St. John's College, Oxford
Author of "Giuseppe Baretti and His Friends," "Modern Italian
Literature"

Oxford B. H. Blackwell, Broad Street London Simpkin, Marshall &
Co., Limited
MCMXII

This collection was originally begun at the suggestion of Mr. Marion
Crawford, whose wide and continual reading of the classics supplied
more than one of the stories. They were put together during a number
of years of casual browsing among the classics, and will perhaps
interest others who indulge in similar amusements.

CONTENTS
PAGE
I. THE POWER OF THE DEAD TO RETURN TO EARTH 1
II. THE BELIEF IN GHOSTS IN GREECE AND ROME 13
III. STORIES OF HAUNTING 19
IV. NECROMANCY 33

V. VISIONS OF THE DEAD IN SLEEP 45
VI. APPARITIONS OF THE DEAD 54
VII. WARNING APPARITIONS 72

I
THE POWER OF THE DEAD TO RETURN TO EARTH
Though there is no period at which the ancients do not seem to have
believed in a future life, continual confusion prevails when they come
to picture the existence led by man in the other world, as we see from
the sixth book of the _├ćneid_. Combined with the elaborate mythology
of Greece, we are confronted with the primitive belief of Italy, and
doubtless of Greece too--a belief supported by all the religious rites in
connection with the dead--that the spirits of the departed lived on in the
tomb with the body. As cremation gradually superseded burial, the idea
took shape that the soul might have an existence of its own, altogether
independent of the body, and a place of abode was assigned to it in a
hole in the centre of the earth, where it lived on in eternity with other
souls.
This latter view seems to have become the official theory, at least in
Italy, in classical days. In the gloomy, horrible Etruscan religion, the
shades were supposed to be in charge of the Conductor of the Dead--a
repulsive figure, always represented with wings and long, matted hair
and a hammer, whose appearance was afterwards imitated in the dress
of the man who removed the dead from the arena. Surely something
may be said for Gaston Boissier's suggestion that Dante's Tuscan blood
may account to some extent for the gruesome imagery of the Inferno.
Cicero[1] tells us that it was generally believed that the dead lived on
beneath the earth, and special provision was made for them in every
Latin town in the "mundus," a deep trench which was dug before the
"pomerium" was traced, and regarded as the particular entrance to the
lower world for the dead of the town in question. The trench was

vaulted over, so that it might correspond more or less with the sky, a
gap being left in the vault which was closed with the stone of the
departed--the "lapis manalis." Corn was thrown into the trench, which
was filled up with earth, and an altar erected over it. On three solemn
days in the year--August 25, October 5, and November 8--the trench
was opened and the stone removed, the dead thus once more having
free access to the world above, where the usual offerings were made to
them.[2]
These provisions clearly show an official belief that death did not
create an impassable barrier between the dead and the living. The
spirits of the departed still belonged to the city of their birth, and took
an interest in their old home. They could even return to it on the days
when "the trench of the gods of gloom lies open and the very jaws of
hell yawn wide."[3] Their rights must be respected, if evil was to be
averted from the State. In fact, the dead were gods with altars of their
own,[4] and Cornelia, the mother of the Gracchi, could write to her
sons, "You will make offerings to me and invoke your parent as a
god."[5] Their cult was closely connected with that of the Lares--the
gods of the hearth, which symbolized
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