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date: 22 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The ancient Greeks believed that a life-giving power, which they called psyche (literally ‘breath’; usually translated as ‘soul’), inside the human body left it at the moment of death. The psyche, envisaged as a faint image of the dead person, lived on in the underworld, which it reached by crossing a body of water. Proper burial of the body was a prerequisite for this migration. Those who had not been buried, or had died prematurely or violently, could become avenging spirits or ghosts haunting humans. Mortals favoured by the gods could obtain the gift of a blissful afterlife. The spirits of the dead were, by nature, ambivalent: their influence could be either good or bad. Such spirits could be summoned with special rites and affect mortals through necromancy (oracles of the dead), as ghosts or through their involvement in acts of magic.

Keywords: afterlife, ghosts, magic, soul, underworld

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