"The Horror of the Terrifying and the Hilarity of the Grotesque": Daimonic Spaces—and Emotions—in Ancient Greek Literature

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Abstract

Starting from Jean-Pierre Vernant’s description of the emotions provoked by the ancient Greek Gorgon, this paper explores the representations in ancient Greek literature of Lamia, Empousa, and Mormo, and their development over time. It focuses on two case studies in which their presence is explicit: (i) ancient Greek comedy, and (ii) Philostratus’ Life of Apollonius of Tyana. Inspired by Jonathan Z. Smith’s conception of the “demonic as a locative category,” it examines not only the physical (social and temporal) spaces these creatures were depicted as inhabiting, but also the spaces of meaning that they themselves embodied, and the cultural spaces that gave rise to them. Finally, returning to Vernant’s insights into the emotions they provoked, it explores the ways in which these creatures reveal the nature of the uncanny, while providing an insight into processes of abjection in ancient Greek culture.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-235
Number of pages24
JournalArethusa
Volume51
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2019

Bibliographical note

Cover issue: Fall 2018

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