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Restless dead [electronic resource] : encounters between the living and the dead in ancient Greece /
Sarah Iles Johnston.
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, 1999.
description
xxi, 329 p. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0520217071 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Subjects
geographic term
More Details
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, 1999.
isbn
0520217071 (alk. paper)
restrictions
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
catalogue key
9764062
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 289-307) and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"[This work] will represent the principal study of ancient Greek beliefs in the intervention of the dead, a topic of acute relevance to the study of classical literature, Greek religion, and the later cultures that spawned curse tablets and versions of Christianity."--David Frankfurter, author ofReligion in Roman Egypt "This is an incontestably useful book. . . . The author's scholarship is remarkable and her competence indisputable. Her laudably courageous and original analysis of the Erinyes leads us from archaic poetry, via the purificatory rituals and reforms of cult brought about by the mysterious Epimenides, to the Orphic tradition recently discovered in the Derveni papyrus--all of which enables Sarah Johnston to conclude by proposing an enthralling rereading of Aeschylus'Oresteia."--Philippe Borgeaud, author ofThe Cult of Pan in Ancient Greece
Flap Copy
"[This work] will represent the principal study of ancient Greek beliefs in the intervention of the dead, a topic of acute relevance to the study of classical literature, Greek religion, and the later cultures that spawned curse tablets and versions of Christianity."--David Frankfurter, author of Religion in Roman Egypt "This is an incontestably useful book. . . . The author's scholarship is remarkable and her competence indisputable. Her laudably courageous and original analysis of the Erinyes leads us from archaic poetry, via the purificatory rituals and reforms of cult brought about by the mysterious Epimenides, to the Orphic tradition recently discovered in the Derveni papyrus--all of which enables Sarah Johnston to conclude by proposing an enthralling rereading of Aeschylus' Oresteia ."--Philippe Borgeaud, author of The Cult of Pan in Ancient Greece
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1999-11:
With this clearly written volume, Johnston (Ohio State Univ.) makes an important contribution to the neglected field of the disgruntled dead. Using ancient sources and modern scholarship to the fullest, the author argues that Hellenic ghosts--feeble in Homer, nagging in tragedy, and usually dangerous later (if one trusts the tricky surviving evidence)--troubled uneasy truces between the living and dead. Her evolutionary hypothesis is revolutionary, but her analytic method excessively defangs the frightening scourges. Three chapters describe changes in Greek concepts of commerce between realms only from 700 to 450 BCE, by which time certain sentient dead gained more active powers to return, to help, and to harm. Specialists in ritual (conjurers) found niches in private and public needs to control potentially injurious, even contagious, spirits. Most problematic were Greeks who missed a "good death"--who died by dishonorable attack, remained unburied, or perished "before their time"--especially "failed females" who did not produce viable offspring. Vengeance, pollution, infertility, and perinatal loss threatened house and polis. Blaming restless ghosts deflected hostility from immediate associates. Johnston's final chapters trace benign Hecate and avenging Erinys, from localized goddess and blood-kin spirit to Panhellenic organizers of the vengeful "departed." For upper-division undergraduates through faculty. D. Lateiner; Ohio Wesleyan University
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, November 1999
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Summaries
Long Description
During the archaic and classical periods, Greek ideas about the dead evolved in response to changing social and cultural conditions--most notably changes associated with the development of the polis, such as funerary legislation, and changes due to increased contacts with cultures of the ancient Near East. InRestless Dead, Sarah Iles Johnston presents and interprets these changes, using them to build a complex picture of the way in which the society of the dead reflected that of the living, expressing and defusing its tensions, reiterating its values and eventually becoming a source of significant power for those who knew how to control it. She draws on both well-known sources, such as Athenian tragedies, and newer texts, such as the Derveni Papyrus and a recently publishedlex sacrafrom Selinous. Topics of focus include the origin of thegoes(the ritual practitioner who made interaction with the dead his specialty), the threat to the living presented by the ghosts of those who died dishonorably or prematurely, the development of Hecate into a mistress of ghosts and its connection to female rites of transition, and the complex nature of the Erinyes.Restless Deadculminates with a new reading of Aeschylus'Oresteiathat emphasizes how Athenian myth and cult manipulated ideas about the dead to serve political and social ends.
Main Description
During the archaic and classical periods, Greek ideas about the dead evolved in response to changing social and cultural conditions--most notably changes associated with the development of the polis, such as funerary legislation, and changes due to increased contacts with cultures of the ancient Near East. In "Restless Dead," Sarah Iles Johnston presents and interprets these changes, using them to build a complex picture of the way in which the society of the dead reflected that of the living, expressing and defusing its tensions, reiterating its values and eventually becoming a source of significant power for those who knew how to control it. She draws on both well-known sources, such as Athenian tragedies, and newer texts, such as the Derveni Papyrus and a recently published "lex sacra" from Selinous.Topics of focus include the origin of the "goes" (the ritual practitioner who made interaction with the dead his specialty), the threat to the living presented by the ghosts of those who died dishonorably or prematurely, the development of Hecate into a mistress of ghosts and its connection to female rites of transition, and the complex nature of the Erinyes. "Restless Dead" culminates with a new reading of Aeschylus "Oresteia" that emphasizes how Athenian myth and cult manipulated ideas about the dead to serve political and social ends.
Main Description
During the archaic and classical periods, Greek ideas about the dead evolved in response to changing social and cultural conditions--most notably changes associated with the development of the polis, such as funerary legislation, and changes due to increased contacts with cultures of the ancient Near East. In Restless Dead , Sarah Iles Johnston presents and interprets these changes, using them to build a complex picture of the way in which the society of the dead reflected that of the living, expressing and defusing its tensions, reiterating its values and eventually becoming a source of significant power for those who knew how to control it. She draws on both well-known sources, such as Athenian tragedies, and newer texts, such as the Derveni Papyrus and a recently published lex sacra from Selinous. Topics of focus include the origin of the goes (the ritual practitioner who made interaction with the dead his specialty), the threat to the living presented by the ghosts of those who died dishonorably or prematurely, the development of Hecate into a mistress of ghosts and its connection to female rites of transition, and the complex nature of the Erinyes. Restless Dead culminates with a new reading of Aeschylus' Oresteia that emphasizes how Athenian myth and cult manipulated ideas about the dead to serve political and social ends.
Main Description
This book is about Greek stories and beliefs concerning those of the dead who returned to the world of the living, to foster and serve or to attack and punish, and also discusses divinities who were associated with such restless ones.
Table of Contents
Prologue
Acknowledgments
Frequently Used Terms
Abbreviations
A Short History of the Dead in Ancient Greece
Elpenor and Others: Narrative Descriptions of the Deadp. 3
To Honor and Avert: Rituals Addressed to the Deadp. 36
Magical Solutions to Deadly Problems: The Origin and Roles of the Goesp. 82
Restless Dead
The Unavenged: Dealing with Those Who Die Violentlyp. 127
Childless Mothers and Blighted Virgins: Female Ghosts and Their Victimsp. 161
Divinities and the Dead
Hecate and the Dying Maiden: How the Mistress of Ghosts Earned Her Titlep. 203
Purging the Polis: Erinyes, Eumenides, and Semnai Theaip. 250
Bibliographyp. 289
General Indexp. 309
Index Locorum: Textsp. 315
Index Locorum: Inscriptionsp. 329
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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