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Greek and Roman Necromancy

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 fluorished, 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. It 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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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

Promotional Information

This study fills a gaping hole in the scholarship, and it is sorely needed. The fascinating material it covers has never been collected and discussed in one volume, in spite of the current surge of interest in ancient magic and its intersection with religion. The author's command of the sources is excellent. He has made an exhaustive survey of all the relevant evidence, so that the coverage of the subject is satisfyingly complete. -- Jennifer Larson, Kent State University

About the Author

Daniel Ogden is Reader in Ancient History at the University of Exeter. He is the author of "Magic, Witchcraft, and Ghosts in the Greek and Roman Worlds; Greek Bastardy in the Classical and Hellenistic Periods; The Crooked Kings of Ancient Greece; Aristomenes of Messene;" and "Polygamy, Prostitutes and Death". He is editor of "The Hellenistic World New Perspectives."


"[A] substantial contribution... Ogden takes on ... Necromancy ... with a huge diachronic sweep and exhaustive trawling of evidence... [This] book will be indispensable to future scholars."--Peter Green, Times Literary Supplement "The thought of raising and consulting the dead runs throughout the history of antiquity... The dead who did come back were often in an angry and violent mood; a hero might be needed to vanquish them, or a potent magic to induce them to be gone... Ogden's [is an] admirably cool and scholarly discussion of necromancy."--Jasper Griffin, New York Review of Books "Ogden's book ... makes it easy for the reader to follow and enjoy the beauty (and sometimes strangeness) of the sources and the accounts of necromancy they provide."--Julia Kindt, International History Review "It is rare and refreshing to read a book of the high caliber of the one under review. The scope is breathtaking, the sources cited are thorough and wide-ranging, and the author's own biases are either nonexistent or kept completely under control. Furthermore, the subject matter is so provocative and the writer's style is so direct and fast paced that it is difficult to put the book down once begun... Whether one sits down to read the book cover to cover or comes to it as a resource tool, there will be no disappointment."--Elise P. Garrison, Religious Studies Review "For specialists, this is a treasure trove of the ancient evidence on necromancy and its related modern scholarship."--Choice

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