Morbid Phantasies: The ‘After-Death’ and the Dead between Imagination and Perception

Karolina Sekita*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter argues that the ways in which the ancient Greeks conceived of their dead and the ‘after-death’ share a common denominator in terms of perception. The first claim is that the world of the dead, imperceptible as it seems, is yet rendered highly perceptual by its articulation in language that reflects the experience of the living in their encounters with death and the dead. The imaginary realm of death thus involves haptic, acoustic, and visual sensations, even if only in a negative or privative sense, as the real realm of death is cold, immovable like a stone, sightless, dark, and silent. In the last section, the chapter considers the reverse process whereby imaginary projections regarding the dead, based on cultural or social norms, can shape how the dead are perceived. It focuses upon the ‘marriage-death’ metaphor, whereby dying is presented as an act of ‘engagement to’, or ‘marrying’, the lord of the dead by a young woman. While scholarship has usually explained the association in terms of the mythical abduction of Kore-Persephone, the author argues that it is figurative, based upon experiential similarities between the two transitions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Imagination of the Mind in Classical Athens
Subtitle of host publicationForms of Thought
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9781000912647
ISBN (Print)9780367706685
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2023


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