). A ghost. The
ancients believed that the spirit of the human body descended into subterranean regions after
life was extinct, and there retained the same figure and appearance it had possessed during
life, so as to be recognizable by the relatives and friends who followed it, but without any
real corporeal substance; or, in other words, that it was visible but impalpable. Those who
had passed a life of virtue were removed to Elysium (see Elysii Campi
), where they continued in the enjoyment of perpetual youth,
and sharing in the intercourse of such friends and relatives as had obtained the same lot.
Those, on the contrary, who had lived in vice were removed to Tartarus, where they wore out
an existence of perpetual punishment (Serv. ad
Verg. Aen. iv. 654
; Tibull. iii. 2, 9; Lucret. i. 120
; Hor. Carm.
iv. 7, 14
). Hence the poets and artists always invest the shades with a corporeal
form, and with the same appearances which the body presented during life. Popular tradition
held that the spirits of the dead could revisit the earth; so that there are many passages in
ancient literature that are curiously suggestive of the modern
“ghost-story.” Several such are found in a letter of Pliny (vii. 27),
where all the accessories of strange noises, clanking chains, etc., are introduced, and where
the longest tale is the literary prototype of Washington Irving's ghost-story in Dolph
See Tylor, Primitive Culture (1871)
; and the
A guest who comes to dinner on the invitation, not of the host, but of one whom the host
has invited (Epist.
i. 5, 28).