An Ancient Greek Ghost Story

A Dollop of History

For a change of pace let’s celebrate Halloween with what is possibly the oldest written account of a haunted house.

This is a “true” story found in a first century AD letter from Pliny the Younger to Lucius Sura. Actually, it’s one of three ghost stories. He begins his letter by writing:

I am extremely desirous therefore to know whether you believe in the existence of ghosts, and that they have a real form, and are a sort of divinities, or only the visionary impressions of a terrified imagination.

What Pliny ultimately wanted was some advice about a personal situation: accounts of a ghost or ghosts cutting hair from the heads of both a young family member and an ex-slave while they were sleeping! He prefaced his story with two others that had been related to him, which he may or may not have believed but thought them worth…

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