1st Edition

Imagining the Afterlife in the Ancient World

Edited By Juliette Harrisson Copyright 2019
    214 Pages
    by Routledge

    214 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Human beings have speculated about whether or not there is life after death, and if so, what form that life might take, for centuries. What did people in the ancient world think the next life would hold, and did they imagine there was a chance for a relationship between the living and the dead? How did people in the ancient world keep their dead loved ones alive through memory, and were they afraid the dead might return and haunt the living in another form? What sort of afterlife did the ancient Greeks and Romans imagine for themselves? This volume explores these questions and more.

    While individual representations of the afterlife have often been examined, few studies have taken a more general view of ideas about the afterlife circulating in the ancient world. By drawing together current research from international scholars on archaeological evidence for afterlife belief, chiefly from funerary sites, together with studies of works of literature, this volume provides a broader overview of ancient ideas about the afterlife than has so far been available.

    Imagining the Afterlife in the Ancient World explores these key questions through a series of wide-ranging studies, taking in ghosts, demons, dreams, cosmology, and the mutilation of corpses along the way, offering a valuable resource to those studying all aspects of death in the ancient world

    List of figures; List of contributors; Acknowledgements; Introduction, Juliette Harrisson; Part 1: The Afterlife at Greek Funerary Sites; 1. Visualizing the Afterlife in Classical Athens: Interactions between the Living and the Dead on White-Ground Lêkythoi, Molly Evangeline Allen; 2. Phrasikleia: Playing with Signs, Nick Brown; Part 2: The afterlife at Roman and Etruscan Funerary Sites; 3. "Break on Through to the Other Side": The Etruscan Netherworld and its Demons, Isabella Bossolino; 4. Guide of Souls? Mercurius Psychopompos in Roman Dalmatia, Josipa Lulić; 5. Funerary Dining Scenes in Roman Tombs: Ensuring Happiness in the Afterlife, Gabriela Ingle; Part 3: The Afterlife in Literature; 6. Cosmology, Psychopomps, and Afterlife in Homer’s Odyssey, Safari F. Grey; 7. Daphnis’ Tomb: Space for Immortality in Virgil’s 5th Eclogue, Stephanie Crooks; 8. Reality and Unreality: Literature and Folklore in Propertius 4.7, Juliette Harrisson; Part 4: The Afterlife in Late Antique Tradition; 9. A Ritual of the Afterlife or the Afterlife of a Ritual: Maschalismos in Ancient Greece and Beyond, Julia Doroszewska and Janek Kucharski; 10. Servius on Virgil’s Underworld in Late Antiquity, Frances Foster; Index


    Juliette Harrisson is a Senior Lecturer in Ancient History at Newman University in Birmingham, UK. Her primary research interests lie in Roman period myth and religion, and in the reception of ancient Greece and Rome in modern popular culture, especially film, television and novels. Her monograph, Dreams and Dreaming in the Roman Empire: Cultural Memory and Imagination was published in 2013, and she is also the co-editor of Memory and Urban Religion in the Ancient World (with Martin Bommas and Phoebe Roy).

    "This collection of essays, predominantly by up-and-coming scholars, speaks to the desideratum in scholarship for a wide-ranging view of the Classical afterlife. Its editor Juliette Harrisson has drawn on the work of an international group of scholars to produce a diverse selection of essays, which between them cover aspects of the period from Archaic Greece to late antiquity. Beginning with an editorial discussion of the interface between writing, practice and ‘belief,’ the book’s four parts deal with material evidence from Greece; evidence from Etruria and provincial Rome; and literary and late antique approaches to afterlife belief and practice. This will be a useful collection for anyone wishing to grasp the parameters of the growing field of study of the Classical afterlife." - Emma Gee, University of St Andrew's, UK

    "Its breadth is such that it will offer almost all readers entrée to new issues, topics, and subject matter. We may hope that future researchers will follow up on the questions that its contributors raise about the imaginary realm of the afterlife and its permutations in the ancient world." - Bryn Mawr Classical Review

    "These essays attend to many fascinating aspects of imagining the afterlife: the literary/material portrayals, the creators of the representations, the bereaved persons and the wider communal settings, inter alia; as such, it is strongly recommended for scholars of classics and ancient religion." - The Classical Journal 

    "The regional boundaries of the collection means that the title is something of a misnomer, for readers will not find contributions on ancient Egypt or Mesopotamia, for example. Although the selections are situated in classical studies and some contributions include linguistic discussions and other specialist material that will be alien to the non-classicist, Greek and Roman passages are translated and terms defined. Harrisson’s introduction is also helpful in setting the stage for Classicists and non-Classicists alike. Readers from the study of religions, archaeology, history, and other disciplines will find much of interest in this collection." - Gregory Shushan, Reading Religion