The Phantom ImageSeeing the Dead in Ancient Rome

The Phantom ImageSeeing the Dead in Ancient Rome

Patrick R. Crowley

Print publication date: 2020

ISBN: 9780226648293

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


How could something as insubstantial as a ghost be made visible through the material grit of stone and paint? Using the figure of the ghost, this book offers a new understanding of the status of the image in Roman art and visual culture. Tracing the shifting practices and debates in antiquity about the nature of vision and representation, it shows how images of ghosts make visible structures of beholding and strategies of depiction. Yet the figure of the ghost simultaneously contributes to a broader conceptual history that accounts for how modalities of belief emerged and developed in antiquity. Neither illustrations of ancient beliefs in ghosts nor depictions of the afterlife more generally, these images ultimately show us something about the visual event of seeing itself.