Part I General

Posthumous Parleys: Chatting Up the Dead in the Ancient Novels


  • Niall W. Slater


Formal consultations with the dead in Heliodorus and in a tale narrated within Apuleius’s Golden Ass allow us to develop a typology for novelistic necromancy that includes a necromancer, a ritual involving both words and magical substances, a difficult reanimation, and a testable prophecy. Apu­leius includes another, less obviously necromantic posthumous parley be­tween Aristomenes and Socrates at the beginning of the Golden Ass that may have significant implications for the interpretation of the work’s ending and therefore for the novel as a whole. 

Niall W. Slater, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Latin and Greek at Emory University, is the author of Reading Petronius (Johns Hopkins 1990), Plautus in Performance (Princeton 1985, 2nd ed. Harwood 2000), and Spectator Politics: Metatheatre and Performance in Aristophanes (Penn 2002). Currently he is writing a Duckworth Companion to Euripides' Alcestis.