This work explores the tradition of ghost stories in Ancient Greece and Rome and compares them to modern ghost stories. It argues that modern ghost stories are closest to Roman ones in their descriptions of ghosts and narrative structure. It begins by introducing the concept of ghost stories and how they are defined. The first chapter covers the stories' descriptions of ghosts. It discusses the similarities and differences between their appearances, behaviors, and conditions. It shows that the modern conception of ghosts are more similar to the Roman conceptions of ghosts than Greek conceptions. The second chapter focuses on the narrative structure of ghost stories, comparing standard ghost story written works to folklore stories, both ancient and modern. It shows that the manner in which modern ghost stories are told are closer in structure to the Roman ones than to the Greek ones. The third chapter shows the reason behind the great difference between Ancient Greek and Roman ghost stories, namely that the concept of miasma in Ancient Greece replaced the fear of ghosts. This is shown by the fact that there are similarities between the way ghosts are described and the way miasma is described. The paper concludes by showing how ghost stories have evolved over time.


Teo, Wendy


Classical Studies


Ancient History, Greek and Roman through Late Antiquity


classics, greek, latin, greece, rome, ghosts, folklore, pollution, miasma

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2011 Joshua Binus