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Old July 19th, 2013, 07:29 PM   #1

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Ancient horror stories

So watched a bit of a scary ghost show the other day, and after I stopped hiding under the covers I wondered If the the ancients had any horror stories? Like was their an ancient version of Stephen King or Alfred Hitchcock? Now I'm no expert in the stories of Ancient Greece or Rome, but I've ever read or heard of a lot of their stories and have never seen a horror one. I thought that maybe their definition of a horror story was different than ours. Like would a story of someone descending to the underworld send all the little Greek children quaking in their sandals? So what do you all think about this?
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Old July 19th, 2013, 07:48 PM   #2

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Yes, there are a few. Check out Pliny's account of the philosopher Athenogaras staying in a haunted, abandoned house in Athens...
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Old July 20th, 2013, 12:09 AM   #3

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In ancient Greece there was a story of Lycaon, king of Arcadia, who slaughtered and chopped up his own son and fed him to Zeus to see how godly the big Z was. Zeus punished Lycaon by turning him into a wolf and striking his fifty sons down with thunderbolts. The son Lycaon sacrificed was returned to life.

The Greeks held an annual festival called the Lykaia that celebrated this story and revolved around the themes of cannibalism and human sacrifice.

To my knowledge this is the first werewolf story in the world. I imagine that there are older tales, the fear of wolves, and of the feral beast in every man must be as old as man himself.
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Old July 20th, 2013, 02:43 PM   #4
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The Romans certainly invented plenty of horror stories. Today we call them history.

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Old July 20th, 2013, 11:51 PM   #5

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The Bachanals comes directly to mind.
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Old July 21st, 2013, 12:54 AM   #6

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Would the Maenads tearing up Orestes into pieces be a horror story?

I also think that Inanna's descent into the Underworld could sound pretty scary in its time, considering that the ruler of the Underworld, Ereshkigal, was much feared in her time.
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Old July 21st, 2013, 06:12 AM   #7

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Greek mythology is packed full of monsters and terrifying creatures.
The tales in which they appear would have surely been the horror stories of the time.

A (in)exhaustive list would contain -
The Minotaur
The Gorgon
The Hydra
The Erinyes

Then there's the myths where men (and women) committed horrific deeds -
Lykaon (Tantalos?)
to name but a few.
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Old July 22nd, 2013, 09:12 AM   #8
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Lots of mythologies have monsters that can rip men to shreds. Oral storytelling was the usual way of sharing tales, some of them can be spooky. We still have this practice today, with horror stories shared around the campfire, or kids grabbing a flashlight at a slumber party.
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