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εἴδωλον, imago). 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 Heyliger. See Tylor, Primitive Culture (1871); and the article Larva.


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).

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