A Roman Ghost Story for Halloween

lionofchaeronea:

Pliny the Younger, Epistles 7.27.5-12

There was a house at Athens that was large and roomy, but infamous for its pernicious atmosphere.  Through the silence of the night the sound of iron would come, and, if you listened more keenly, the clanking of chains would echo, first at a distance, then near at hand.  Soon a phantom would appear- an old man worn away with starvation and squalor, his beard long, his hair bristling; he bore fetters on his feet and chains on his hands, which he would shake.  Then the inhabitants would spend gloomy, ill-omened nights awake in fear; sickness would follow on their wakefulness, and then, as their dread swelled, finally death would come.  For even during the day, although the apparition had departed, the memory of it would pass before their eyes, and their fear lasted longer than the fear’s causes. 
Subsequently the house was deserted and condemned to emptiness, given over entirely to that monstrous apparition; nevertheless it was advertised, in case someone ignorant of so great an evil should wish to purchase or rent it. 

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