Cover image for Haunted Greece and Rome : ghost stories from classical antiquity
Haunted Greece and Rome : ghost stories from classical antiquity
Felton, D., 1964-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Austin : University of Texas Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xvii, 148 pages ; 23 cm
General Note:
Based on author's thesis (Ph. D.)--University of North Carolina.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PA3015.G48 F45 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Stories of ghostly spirits who return to this world to warn of danger, to prophesy, to take revenge, to request proper burial, or to comfort the living fascinated people in ancient times just as they do today. In this innovative, interdisciplinary study, the author combines a modern folkloric perspective with literary analysis of ghost stories from classical antiquity to shed new light on the stories' folk roots.

The author begins by examining ancient Greek and Roman beliefs about death and the departed and the various kinds of ghost stories which arose from these beliefs. She then focuses on the longer stories of Plautus, Pliny, and Lucian, which concern haunted houses. Her analysis illuminates the oral and literary transmission and adaptation of folkloric motifs and the development of the ghost story as a literary form. In her concluding chapter, the author also traces the influence of ancient ghost stories on modern ghost story writers, a topic that will interest all readers and scholars of tales of hauntings.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

With this book, Felton (Southern Illinois Univ.) revises and expands his doctoral dissertation--which focused on haunted-house stories in antiquity--to include other forms of "haunting." However, he does not claim to provide a comprehensive source of everything scholars know about ancient ghost stories. The first chapter discusses the folkloric background to ghost stories, and the second deals with the problem of classifying ghostly phenomena. The four other chapters look at the theme of haunted houses in ancient and modern literature and the haunting motif as it is treated in well-known works by Plautus, Pliny the Younger, and Lucian. Explanatory notes, an extensive bibliography, and a general index complete the study. Students and scholars who plan to investigate the ancient ghost story will find this volume useful, but it would have been much more valuable had Felton decided to provide a genuinely comprehensive handbook on the genre of the ghost story in the ancient world. For large undergraduate and graduate collections. L. Golden Florida State University

Table of Contents

1 The Folklore of Ghosts
2 Problems of Definition and Classification
3 Haunted Houses
4 Plautus's Haunted House
5 The Supernatural in Pliny's Letters
6 Lucian's Ghost Stories
7 The Fate of the Ghost Story
Index of Passages Cited
General Index