Articles from the
Oxford Classical Dictionary
attitudes to death | disposal of the dead | psyche | soul | body | chthonian gods | pollution | purification | ritual | magic | Hades | Tartarus | Styx | Elysium | Orpheus | Orphism | Orphic literature | Persephone/Kore | Eleusis | mysteries | Greek funerary art | cemeteries | plague
Most of the grandiose and often ostentatious Hellenistic monumental tombs were power- fully expressive and symbolic structures, built to glorify and display the wealth and power of kings, queens, nobles, and other persons of influence or to serve as shrines for the worship of the heroized dead. They were inventive in design and form, created to demonstrate the achievements of the dead in a public architecture of permanence and durability. This lavishly illustrated monograph brings together previously scattered information about Hellenistic funerary monuments and Janos Fedak's own research on the exterior architecture of these impressive structures in the Mediterranean region. The author first establishes a typology of main tomb forms and then considers some of the predecessors of the Hellenistic tombs. He explores the variations of form that resulted from differences in climate, building materials, and social and religious customs. Adherence to strong local traditional practice in building is visible in each region, but new ideas and novel funerary architecture were welcomed everywhere in the Hellenistic world. Fedak's wide-ranging approach makes the work of interest not only to specialists in Greek architecture and archaeologists but also to students of classical studies and historians of art and religion.
Imagine you are a hunter-gatherer some 15,000 years ago. You've got a choice – carry on foraging, or plant a few seeds and move to one of those new-fangled settlements down the valley. What you won't know is that urban life is short and riddled with dozens of new diseases; your children will be shorter and sicklier than you are, they'll be plagued with gum disease, and stand a decent chance of a violent death at the point of a spear. Why would anyone choose this? This is one of the many intriguing questions tackled by Brenna Hassett in Built on Bones. Using research on skeletal remains from around the world, this book explores the history of humanity's experiment with the metropolis, and looks at why our ancestors chose city life, and why they have largely stuck to it. It explains the diseases, the deaths and the many other misadventures that we have unwittingly unleashed upon ourselves throughout the metropolitan past, and as the world becomes increasingly urbanised, what we can look forward to in the future. Telling the tale of shifts in human growth and health that have occurred as we transitioned from a mobile to a largely settled species. Built on Bones offers an accessible insight into a critical but relatively unheralded aspect of the human story: our recent evolution.
In our contemporary Western society, death has become taboo. Despite its inevitability, we focus on maintaining youthfulness and well-being, while fearing death’s intrusion in our daily activities. In contrast, observes Maria Serena Mirto, the ancient Greeks embraced death more openly and effectively, developing a variety of rituals to help them grieve the dead and, in the process, alleviate anxiety and suffering. In this fascinating book, Mirto examines conceptions of death and the afterlife in the ancient Greek world, revealing few similarities—and many differences—between ancient and modern ways of approaching death. Exploring the cultural and religious foundations underlying Greek burial rites and customs, Mirto traces the evolution of these practices during the archaic and classical periods. She explains the relationship between the living and the dead as reflected in grave markers, epitaphs, and burial offerings and discusses the social and political dimensions of burial and lamentation. She also describes shifting beliefs about life after death, showing how concepts of immortality, depicted so memorably in Homer’s epics, began to change during the classical period. this book straddles the boundary between literary and religious imagination and synthesizes observations from archaeology, visual art, philosophy, politics, and law. The author places particular emphasis on Homer’s epics, the first literary testimony of an understanding of death in ancient Greece. And because these stories are still so central to Western culture, her discussion casts new light on elements we thought we had already understood. Originally written and published in Italian, this English-language translation includes the most recent scholarship on newly discovered texts and objects, and engages the latest theoretical perspectives on the gendered roles of men and women as agents of mourning. The volume also features a new section dealing with hero cults and a new appendix outlining fundamental developments in modern studies of death in the ancient Greek world.
At length, in dead of night, the ghost appears / Of her unhappy lord: the specter stares, / And, with erected eyes, his bloody bosom bares. / The cruel altars and his fate he tells -- The Aeneid. The literature of classical antiquity bristles with witches, ghosts, magic books, curses, voodoo-dolls, and other fiendish monsters. This book covers the literature of both Greek and Roman cultures over a period of more than a thousand years, through the advent of Christianity. Although classical culture was conservative, especially in regards to ghosts and witches which were strongly bound up in folklore, such tales preserve and conserve ideas about ghosts and witchcraft, and they survive to achieve this effect precisely because they are wonderfully engaging. Consequently, and also because they have directly and indirectly shaped our own culture's lore of magic and ghosts, these tales speak to us today still with a great directness and immediacy. In this book, Ogden uncovers the ancient foundations of the supernatural stories that have endured for generations.
The study of Greek warfare should involve much more than reconstructing the experience of combat or revisiting the great wars of the classical period. Here, a distinguished international cast of scholars explores beyond the usual thematic and chronological boundaries. Ranging from the heroes of Homer to the kings and cities of the Hellenistic age, the contributors set war in the context of other forms of Greek violence, private and public. At every turn they challenge received ideas about the causes and conduct of war, its development and its place in Greek society and culture.