ATHENODOROS OF ATHENS  by Gary Every

They lived in the house long enough to make it a home.

     Athenodoros of Athens had a reputation for being wise which was surpassed only by his fame as a miser.

     There was never enough food on the dinner table. His wife was vey thin. His children were slightly starved and stunted in their growth. The manor servants were thin as rails, and even the mice looked emaciated.

     The Grecian estates where Athenodoros lived he purchased because they were on sale.

     The manor was famous for a haunting, and therefore potential buyers were wanting. The mansion had long since been abandoned, falling into crumbling disrepair. In the middle of the night, the ghost would appear, bound in shackles and chains. The spirit would begin wailing, shackles clattering, chains rattling.

     The ghost was described by Pliny the Younger.

     “This hideous phantom of an old man had a beard that was long and matted. His thin legs were loaded with the weight of the chains which he dragged with a painful moaning, and his wrists were shackled with long cruel links. Every time this ghost raised his arms, he groaned, shaking his chains in impotent fury.”

     Once upon a midnight dreary, Athenodoros of Athens was awakened by the ghost’s emphatic protestations. The chains rattled, the shackles clattered, the phantom old man beckoned with a bony finger, letting the philosopher know not to linger. The shackled spirit shuffled out of the manor, groaning as it wandered towards the garden. Athenodoros followed warily, and when they stopped, the ghost pointed to an exact spot, and then he vanished.

     In a flurry of hurry Athenodoros awakened his servants. Bound by those bonds of servitude, the slaves rose in the middle of the night, bellies rumbling, dreams of dinner interrupted. With shovels in hand they dug in the deep dark earth. With each turn of the blade of the spade the hole became a little deeper, until at last they revealed a buried treasure, a chest bound with shackles and chains, filled with gold and silver. Athenodoros smiled at the sight of riches, when suddenly one of the servants brought his shovel down on his skull.

     Athenodoros fell inside the hole and the treasure was hauled up. The shovel-holding slaves filled in the philosopher’s grave before beginning a life of leisure, and the shackled ghost was never seen again.

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