I går skrev jeg om det haitianske sjælebegreb, at efter et menneskes død "skal meget komplicerede begravelsesriter udføres for at sikre, at gros-bon-ange kan finde tilbage til himlen eller Ginen og finde sin plads blandt guderne, mens et ritual, der kaldes ni nætter, skal sikre, at ti-bon-ange forbliver i graven."
Dette er naturligvis en særdeles velkendt forestilling: At folk som er kommet af dage på uforløst eller gruopvækkende vis, ikke er begravet ordentligt eller som i livet har lidt meget, kan vende tilbage efter døden og måske kan "få fred", hvis man opklarer mysteriet om deres død eller sørger for at begrave dem ordentligt, temaet for film som Ghost Story, Pet Cemetary eller The Grudge, som vi tidligere har omtalt.
Denne forestilling er endog meget gammel - Plinius den Yngre, som blev født i 63 evt., fortæller således i et brev en rigtig spøgelseshistorie fra Athen:
There was at Athens a mansion, spacious and commodious, but of evil repute and dangerous to health. In the dead of night there was a noise as of iron, and, if you listened more closely, a clanking of chains was heard, first of all from a distance, and afterwards hard by. Presently a specter used to appear, an ancient man sinking with emaciation and squalor, with a long beard and bristly hair, wearing shackles on his legs and fetters on his hands, and shaking them. Hence the inmates, by reason of their fears, passed miserable and horrible nights in sleeplessness. This want of sleep was followed by disease, and, their terrors increasing, by death. For in the daytime as well, though the apparition had departed, yet a reminiscence of it flitted before their eyes, and their dread outlived its cause.Plinius fortæller dette i et brev til Sura, hvor han spørger til Suras mening om , hvorvidt sådanne fænomener kan være virkelige, og hvad de betyder; han fortæller også om en tilsvarende oplevelse, han selv har haft, som ikke synes at involvere et spøgelse så meget som en "dødsvarsler":
The mansion was accordingly deserted, and, condemned to solitude, was entirely abandoned to the dreadful ghost. However, it was advertised, on the chance of some one, ignorant of the fearful curse attached to it, being willing to buy or to rent it. Athenodorus, the philosopher, came to Athens and read the advertisement. When he had been informed of the terms, which were so low as to appear suspicious, he made inquiries, and learned the whole of the particulars. Yet none the less on that account, nay, all the more readily, did he rent the house. As evening began to draw on, he ordered a sofa to be set for himself in the front part of the house, and called for his notebooks, writing implements, and a light. The whole of his servants he dismissed to the interior apartments, and for himself applied his soul, eyes, and hand to composition, that his mind might not, from want of occupation, picture to itself the phantoms of which he had heard, or any empty terrors.
At the commencement there was the universal silence of night. Soon the shaking of irons and the clanking of chains was heard, yet he never raised his eyes nor slackened his pen, but hardened his soul and deadened his ears by its help. The noise grew and approached: now it seemed to be heard at the door, and next inside the door. He looked round, beheld and recognized the figure he had been told of. It was standing and signaling to him with its finger, as though inviting him. He, in reply, made a sign with his hand that it should wait a moment, and applied himself afresh to his tablets and pen. Upon this the figure kept rattling its chains over his head as he wrote. On looking round again, he saw it making the same signal as before, and without delay took up a light and followed it. It moved with a slow step, as though oppressed by its chains, and, after turning into the courtyard of the house, vanished suddenly and left his company.
On being thus left to himself, he marked the spot with some grass and leaves which he plucked. Next day he applied to the magistrates, and urged them to have the spot in question dug up. There were found there some bones attached to and intermingled with fetters; the body to which they had belonged, rotted away by time and the soil, had abandoned them thus naked and corroded to the chains. They were collected and interred at the public expense, and the house was ever afterwards free from the spirit, which had obtained due sepulture.
I have a freedman, who is not without some knowledge of letters. A younger brother of his was sleeping with him in the same bed. The latter dreamed he saw some one sitting on the couch, who approached a pair of scissors to his head, and even cut the hair from the crown of it. When day dawned he was found to be cropped round the crown, and his locks were discovered lying about.Link til Plinius den Yngres spøgelseshistorie hos Projekt Gutenberg.
A very short time afterwards a fresh occurrence of the same kind confirmed the truth of the former one. A lad of mine was sleeping, in company with several others, in the pages' apartment. There came through the windows (so he tells the story) two figures in white tunics, who cut his hair as he lay, and departed the way they came. In his case, too, daylight exhibited him shorn, and his locks scattered around.
Nothing remarkable followed, except, perhaps, this, that I was not brought under accusation, as I should have been, if Domitian (in whose reign these events happened) had lived longer. For in his desk was found an information against me which had been presented by Carus; from which circumstance it may be conjectured - inasmuch as it is the custom of accused persons to let their hair grow - that the cutting off of my slaves' hair was a sign of the danger which threatened me being averted.
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