Greek and Roman Necromancy

Greek and Roman Necromancy

by Daniel Ogden
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691119686

ISBN-13: 9780691119687

Pub. Date: 01/12/2004

Publisher: Princeton University Press

In classical antiquity, there was much interest in necromancy—the consultation of the dead for divination. People could seek knowledge from the dead by sleeping on tombs, visiting oracles, and attempting to reanimate corpses and skulls. Ranging over many of the lands in which Greek and Roman civilizations flourished, including Egypt, from the Greek archaic

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Overview

In classical antiquity, there was much interest in necromancy—the consultation of the dead for divination. People could seek knowledge from the dead by sleeping on tombs, visiting oracles, and attempting to reanimate corpses and skulls. Ranging over many of the lands in which Greek and Roman civilizations flourished, including Egypt, from the Greek archaic period through the late Roman empire, this book is the first comprehensive survey of the subject ever published in any language.

Daniel Ogden surveys the places, performers, and techniques of necromancy as well as the reasons for turning to it. He investigates the cave-based sites of oracles of the dead at Heracleia Pontica and Tainaron, as well as the oracles at the Acheron and Avernus, which probably consisted of lakeside precincts. He argues that the Acheron oracle has been long misidentified, and considers in detail the traditions attached to each site. Readers meet the personnel—real or imagined—of ancient necromancy: ghosts, zombies, the earliest vampires, evocators, sorcerers, shamans, Persian magi, Chaldaeans, Egyptians, Roman emperors, and witches from Circe to Medea. Ogden explains the technologies used to evocate or reanimate the dead and to compel them to disgorge their secrets. He concludes by examining ancient beliefs about ghosts and their wisdom—beliefs that underpinned and justified the practice of necromancy.

The first of its kind and filled with information, this volume will be of central importance to those interested in the rapidly expanding, inherently fascinating, and intellectually exciting subjects of ghosts and magic in antiquity.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691119687
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
01/12/2004
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
6.14(w) x 9.22(h) x 0.84(d)

Table of Contents

List of Figures vii

Preface ix

Abbreviations xi

Introduction xv

PART I: PLACES 1

Chapter 1: Tombs and Battlefields 3

Chapter 2: Oracles of the Dead 17

Chapter 3: The Heracleia Pontica and Tainaron Nekuomanteia 29

Chapter 4: The Acheron Nekuomanteia 49

Chapter 5: The Avernus Nekuomanteia 61

Chapter 6: Incubation and Dreaming 75

PART II: PEOPLE 93

Chapter 7: Evocators, Sorcerers, and Ventriloquists 95

Chapter 8: Shamus, Pythagoreans, and Orphics 116

Chapter 9: Aliens and Witches 128

Chapter 10: Necromancy among the Romans 149

PART III: TECHNOLOGY 161

Chapter 11: Traditional Rites of Evocation 163

Chapter 12: From Bowl Divination to Boy-Sacrifice 191

Chapter 13: Reanimation and Talking heads 202

PART IV: THEORY 217

Chapter 14: Ghosts in Necromancy 219

Chapter 15: The Wisdom of the Dead 231

Chapter 16: Between Life and Death 251

CONCLUSION: Attitudes toward Necromancy 263

Bibliography 269

Index 303

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