Elpenor and Others

Sarah Iles Johnston

in Restless Dead

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 2013 | ISBN: 9780520217072
Published online May 2014 | e-ISBN: 9780520922310 | DOI:
Elpenor and Others

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This chapter starts with a discussion of methodological challenges in studying beliefs about entities such as ghosts, which may change from time to time, from person to person and even within a single person, depending on the needs the beliefs are called on to address, with special attention to the additional challenge of deriving information about beliefs from literary narratives. Then follows a detailed, chronologically arranged examination of our textual information concerning ancient Greek beliefs in the power of the dead to interact with the living, starting with the Homeric poems and ending with early fourth century authors. Changes in belief patterns are linked to changes in the society more broadly, such as the rise of the polis.

Keywords: Elpenor; Ghost; Nekuia; katabasis; Psychopompos; Revenant; Tragedy (Athenian)

Chapter.  15449 words. 

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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