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Restless DeadEncounters between the Living and the Dead in Ancient Greece$
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Sarah Iles Johnston

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780520217072

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520217072.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 27 June 2022

Childless Mothers and Blighted Virgins

Childless Mothers and Blighted Virgins

Female Ghosts and Their Victims

(p.161) Chapter 5 Childless Mothers and Blighted Virgins
Restless Dead

Sarah Iles Johnston

University of California Press

This chapter focuses on females who die under unhappy circumstances, particularly those who die unmarried and those who die in pregnancy and childbirth. The ghosts of such women are dangerous especially to other women who are at such transitional points in their lives, and to the babies of those women. Mainstream Greek festivals that celebrated female maturation included rites to appease and avert such ghosts; apotropaic measures such as amulets worn by pregnant women and babies were used as well. The belief in such creatures also served a normative function: no woman wanted to end up that way, which reiterated marriage and childbirth as dominant female goals. The belief also served as an explanation for misfortune that kept blame away from other possible parties—such as female friends and relatives jealous of another’s reproductive success.

Keywords:   Gello, Lamia, Mormo, Strix, Aoroi, Evil Eye, demon, envy

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