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Pliny The Younger’s Ghost Stories


Pliny the Younger was a Roman senator, born the son of a knight in AD 62. He lived through the reign of the tyrannical Nero, was taught by some of the most brilliant minds in ancient Rome, and left behind a ghost story among his many writings.


In the first part of the story, he tells a tale of Curtius Rufus, an attendant to a Roman governor in Africa. One night, Curtius was out walking, and the ghostly visage of a beautiful woman appeared to him, telling him that she was a powerful spirit that watched over all of Africa. She told him of his future, revealing that he was to return to Rome, become elevated to a lofty position, and ultimately die on Roman soil.


Eventually, he achieved the fame she promised, and when he returned to Carthage, he saw her again before he was overcome with an illness that led to his death, fulfilling the rest of the ghost’s prophecy. Pliny the Younger then tells the story of a notorious house in Athens where no one was able to live.

Every night, the most horrible sounds would drift from the house. There was the rattling of chains, getting closer and closer to anyone nearby who listened. Those who tried to live in the house were often awakened by the ghostly specter of an old man—dirty, disheveled, and laden with chains. His presence even seemed to linger throughout the day, and ultimately, the house was all but abandoned to the ghost. Still, the owners tried to make money off the property.

When the philosopher Athenodorus came to town looking for a place to stay, he rented the haunted house even after hearing the story of the ghost in chains. Setting up an office in the house, Athenodorus sat down to work through the night. Midway through, the sound of rattling chains filled the air. The ghost appeared, beckoning him, and Athenodorus followed.Dragging its chains, the ghost led Athenodorus through the house, and then suddenly, it vanished. Athenodorus marked the spot where the ghost had disappeared. The next morning, he asked the city magistrates to oversee an excavation. When they began to dig, they found the skeleton of a man, long dead and wrapped in chains. After giving the man a proper burial, the haunting stopped, and the ghost was laid to rest.

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