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Ghost stories have been around since the beginning of time. I think they’re just an integral part of the human condition. One of the earliest documented ghost stories comes from the experiences of the first century Greek philosopher Athenodorus of Athens. The tale, as told later by the Roman philosopher Pliny the Younger, is as follows:
Enter the starving artist Athenodorus, who was desperate for a place to crash and decided to rent the place. Not surprisingly, the first night there he was awoken by the sound of chains rattling. The sound grew louder and louder until Athenodorus caught sight of the hideous phantom of the old man. The spirit beckoned with a bony finger and led Athenodorus to the garden where he pointed to the ground and then disappeared.
The next day, Athenodorus had the garden excavated, and he discovered a human skeleton with rusted chains still shackled to the bones. According to Pliny, on that day the haunting ended and the house was quiet once again. Who knows how much of this tale was embellishment, but it’s fascinating to me how similar this tale is to accounts of many modern hauntings. Perhaps it’s simply a timeless theme : tortured souls from beyond the grave who need a little help from the living.
Photo courtesy Kzappaster.
Further reading: Cohen, Daniel. The Encyclopedia of Ghosts. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1984.
The original article can be found at: http://www.praofb.org/prablog/?p=440