White Sheet Ghosts

It was thought that ghosts appeared to the living in the way they looked when they died.  According to Roman tradition, a white burial shroud was placed upon the body at death.  This is why the traditional appearance of a ghost is of a body under a white sheet.  This Roman connection applies to more than just appearance.  It was also though that ghosts spoke Latin, as can be seen in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

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2 thoughts on “White Sheet Ghosts

  1. Ah, so that’s why ghosts were thought during Elizabethan times to speak Latin, which is pretty much a dead language. 😉 Though this may be tangential, it’s sad that the actual language of Rome is not spoken in its pure/original form anywhere. Its last gasp these days is the words we still use today which are directly descended from their Latin roots, but there is no conversational Latin today.

    • Or as I call the Romance languages, pleb Latin. Interestingly enough, there are groups that still try to use Latin conversationally, mostly in the Vatican. The Latin department at Cornell almost switched to conversation Latin textbooks before realizing the uselessness of that.

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