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.
Felton's whole book makes one want to read more ghost stories, to find and enjoy other she details so well in the Roman texts. Haunted Greece and Rome serves up fine preparations of some great classical ghost stories, leaving the reader with a taste for more.