Landscapes of Dread in Classical Antiquity: Negative Emotion in Natural and Constructed Spaces, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Landscapes of Dread in Classical Antiquity

Negative Emotion in Natural and Constructed Spaces, 1st Edition

Edited by Debbie Felton


306 pages | 11 B/W Illus.

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Over the last two decades, research in cultural geography and landscape studies has influenced many humanities fields, including Classics, and has increasingly drawn our attention to the importance of spaces and their contexts, both geographical and social: how spaces are described by language, what spaces are used for by individuals and communities, and how language, use, and the passage of time invest spaces with meaning. In addition to this ‘spatial’ turn in scholarship, recent years have also seen an ‘emotive’ turn – an increased interest in the study of emotion in literature.

Many works on landscape in classical antiquity focus on themes such as the sacred and the pastoral and the emotions such spaces evoke, such as (respectively) feelings of awe or tranquillity in settings both urban and rural. Far less scholarship has been generated by the locus terribilis, the space associated with negative emotions because of the bad things that happen there. In short, the recent ‘emotive’ turn in humanities studies has so far largely neglected several of the more negative emotions, including anxiety, fear, terror, and dread.

The papers in this volume focus on those neglected negative emotions, especially dread – and they do so while treating many types of space, including domestic, suburban, rural and virtual, and while covering many genres and authors, including the epic poems of Homer, Greek tragedy, Roman poetry and historiography, medical writing, paradoxography and the short story.


Anyone intrigued by sophisticated approaches to classical philology will be attracted to this thought-provoking collection of essays. Landscapes of Dread in Classical Antiquity is the result of the experimental yet meticulous research of emotion and space in diverse literary contexts. The contributors trace the topography of dread, fear and terror in selected passages from Graeco-Roman literature; they also demonstrate that dragons, demons and ghosts, the abject and the preternatural were a source of fascination for the ancient world as they are for us. Indeed, the dark side of the moon haunts classical as well as modern thought?and this volume succeeds in highlighting both.

- Evina Sistakou, Aristotle University, Greece

Table of Contents

Preface and acknowledgements

List of figures


Introduction: Negative Emotion and the Landscape

Debbie Felton and Kate Gilhuly

Part I

Evoking Dread in Early Greek Literature: Homer and Tragedy

1. Abject Landscapes of the Iliad

William Brockliss

2. Limits of Dread: ἔσχατα, πεῖραρ, and Dangerous Edge-Space in Homeric Formulae

Chloe Bray

3. Home and Away: The Importance of Suicide Location in Sophocles’ Ajax

Bridget Martin

4. Dreamscape and Dread in Euripides’ Iphigenia among the Taurians

Melissa Mueller

Part II

Anxiety and Dread in the Roman Literary Landscape

5. Living in Fear: Affect and Dwelling Space in Horace’s Roman Odes

Adrian Gramps

6. Saeva Quies and Lucan’s Landscapes of Anxiety

Laura Zientek

7. Wily Wetlands: Imperialism and Resistance in Tacitus’s Batavian Revolt

Leen Van Broeck

Part III

Dread of the Preternatural in Classical Literature

8. Dragonscapes and Dread

Daniel Ogden

9. The Liminal Space: Suburbs as a Demonic Domain in Classical Literature

Julia Doroszewska

10. Dread of Daimones in (Ancient) Urban Spaces

Debbie Felton

11. Haunted Minds, Haunted Places: Topographies of Insanity in Greek and Roman Paradoxography

George Kazantzidis

12. Dread in the Dark? From Modern Fiction to Classical Antiquity

Mercedes Aguirre

Part IV

Epilogue: The Afterlife of Dreadful Antiquity

13. Detroit and the Classical Sublime, Or, In Defense of "Ruin Porn"

Jesse Weiner with Terressa A. Benz


Index locorum

General index

About the Editor

Debbie Felton isProfessor of Classics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, United States, and the author of Haunted Greece and Rome: Ghost Stories from Classical Antiquity (1999). She has published widely on folklore in classical literature. Her current research projects include a book on serial killers in the ancient world and a monograph on the Cyclops. She has been the editor of the journal Preternature: Critical and Historical Studies on the Preternatural since February 2015.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Ancient / General