Fifth-century Greek tragedy contains some of the most fascinating and important stage-ghosts in Western literature, whether the talkative Persian king Darius, who is evoked from the Underworld in Aeschylus’ Persians, or the murdered Trojan prince Polydorus, who seeks burial for his exposed corpse in Euripides’ Hecuba. These manifest figures can tell us a vast amount about the abilities of the tragic dead, particularly in relation to the nature, extent and limitations of their interaction with the living through, for example, ghost-raising ceremonies and dreams. Beyond these manifest dead, tragedy presents a wealth of invisible dead whose anger and desire for revenge bubble up from the Underworld, and whose honour and dishonour occupy the minds and influence the actions of the living. Combining both these manifest and invisible dead, this book examines harmful interaction between the living and the dead, i.e. how the living can harm the dead, and how the dead can harm the living. This includes discussions on the extent to which the dead are aware of and can react to honourable or dishonourable treatment by the living, the social stratification of the Underworld, the consequences of corpse exposure and mutilation for both the living and the dead, and how the dead can use and collaborate with avenging agents, such as the gods, the living and the Erinyes.
'Martin has produced an attractive and useful book on a topic of considerable interest. It is
well written... Perhaps the book’s greatest strength is that, while exploring the beliefs and customs concerning the dead, she consistently foregrounds the interests and dynamics of the dramatic works in which they appear.'
Michael R. Halleran, Bryn Mawr Classical Review