Haunted Greece and Rome: Ghost Stories from Classical AntiquityD. Felton (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1999) 148 pp., $25.00 (hardcover), $12.95 (paper)
Only a few ghost stories—those chilling, thrilling or even comic tales of the dead roaming amongst the living—have survived from ancient Greece and Rome, and D. Felton’s Haunted Greece and Rome provides a lively treatment of some of the best-known and most complete. Felton draws on both modern folklore analysis and classical philology to discuss works by the second-century A.D. Greek satirist Lucian, the third-century B.C. Roman playwright Plautus and the Roman statesman and essayist Pliny the Younger (61–112 A.D.).
Felton begins by examining the different types and categories of classical ghosts and the contexts in which they appear. One of the strengths of this survey is its emphasis on the different sensory impressions involved in a haunting—not merely sights but sounds, smells and other phenomena. She also draws distinctions among different types of ghost stories, separating tales concerned with the spirits of the dead from those involving poltergeists and other daimonic spirits (although she admits that the ancients did not make the same distinctions).