The Haunting of Athenodorus

Perhaps the first record of the classic chain-clanking ghost is: the haunting of the rented house of the philosopher Athenodorus of Athens in the 1st century. The ghost dragged about the house in his leg chains, moaning and scaring away all tenants. Finally, having no other choice to live, Athenodorus moved in. When the ghost appeared Athenodorus was not afraid as others had been. The ghost led him outside and pointed to a spot on the ground. The next day Athenodorus had the ground dug up there. A human skeleton was found, stilll shackled to rusted chains.

Athenodorus was born in Canana, near Tarsus (in modern-day Turkey); his father was Sandon. He was a student of Posidonius of Rhodes, and the teacher of Octavian (the future Caesar Augustus) at Apollonia.
The Roman philosopher Pliny the Younger relayed the story in a letter to his patron, Lucias Sura. It is not known how much of the story was embellishment, but it makes for an interesting tale. 

Wrote Pliny:
There was formerly at Athens a large and handsome house which none the less had acquired a reputation of being badly haunted. The folk told how at the dead of night horrid noises were heard: the clanking of chains which grew louder and louder until there suddenly appeared the hideous phantom of an old man who seemed the very picture of abject filth and misery. His beard was long and matted, his white hair disheveled and unkempt. His thin legs were loaded with a weight of galling fetters that he dragged wearily along with a painful moaning; his wrists were shackled by long cruel links, while ever and anon he raised his arms and shook his shackles in a kind of impotent fury. Some few mocking skeptics who were once bold enough to watch all night in the house had been well-nigh scared from their senses at the sight of the apparition and what was worse, disease and even death itself proved the fate of those who after dusk had ventured within those accursed walls. The place was shunned. A placard “To Let” was posted but year succeeded year and the house fell almost to ruin and decay.

Even this state of affairs, however, did not deter Athenodorus, who had little money. When told the house was so cheap and in such deplorable condition because it was haunted, he rented it anyway. 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. Athenodorus marked the spot and then went inside and to bed. He slept undisturbed.

The next day, according to Pliny, he went to the local magistrates and told them what had happened. Digging commenced at the spot in the garden, and a human skeleton, with rusted chains still shackled to the bones, was uncovered lying close to the surface. The remains were
given a proper burial, and the house was ritually purified. According to Pliny, the haunting and the bad luck of the house then came to an end.

Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits by Rosemary Ellen Guiley

Ghosts and Haunted Places by Rosemary Ellen Guiley

Pic Source:

No comments

Powered by Blogger.

Hi, we noticed that you're using an Ad Blocker

We depend on ads to keep our content free of charge. Please consider disabling your Ad Blocker while visiting this website.

If You Already Disable Adblock Reload This Page