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Though there is no period at which the ancients do not seem to have believed in a future life, continual confusion prevails when they come to picture the existence led by man in the other world, as we see from the sixth book of the Æneid. Combined with the elaborate mythology of Greece, we are confronted with the primitive belief of Italy, and doubtless of Greece too—a belief supported by all the religious rites in connection with the dead—that the spirits of the departed lived on in the tomb with the body. As cremation gradually superseded burial, the idea took shape that the soul might have an existence of its own, altogether independent of the body, and a place of abode was assigned to it in a hole in the centre of the earth, where it lived on in eternity with other souls.
There is nothing more characteristic of paganism than the passionate longing of the average man to perpetuate his memory after death in the world round which all his hopes and aspirations clung.
Ghost stories play a very subordinate part in classical literature, as is only to be expected. The religion of the hard-headed, practical Roman was essentially formal, and consisted largely in the exact performance of an elaborate ritual. His relations with the dead were regulated with a care that might satisfy the most litigious of ghosts, and once a man had carried out his part of the bargain, he did not trouble his head further about his deceased ancestors, so long as he felt that they, in their turn, were not neglecting his interests. Yet the average man in Rome was glad to free himself from burdensome and expensive duties towards the dead that had come down to him from past generations, and the ingenuity of the lawyers soon devised a system of sham sales by which this could be successfully and honourably accomplished.
I.—THE POWER OF THE DEAD TO RETURN TO EARTH
II.—THE BELIEF IN GHOSTS IN GREECE AND ROME
III.—STORIES OF HAUNTING
V.—VISIONS OF THE DEAD IN SLEEP
VI.—APPARITIONS OF THE DEAD
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Morley was born in 1875 and became a scholar in literary subjects. She wrote books on Italian Literature and Greek and Roman Mythology.
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