Tag Archives: Rome

‘A Roman Ghost Story for Halloween’


I really loved this, from Pliny the Younger, via The Lion of Chaeronea:

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.

A philosopher called Athenodorus came to Athens and read the listing. When he heard the price, since its cheapness was suspicious, he delayed and learned the whole story; then he rented it nonetheless- nay, all the more. When evening began to draw on, he ordered his bed to be laid out in the front part of the house; he requested writing tablets, a stylus, and a lamp; then he sent all his servants into the inner rooms. He himself devoted his mind, eyes, and hands to writing, lest his mind, left unoccupied, should imagine the apparition he’d heard of and create empty fears for him.

At first, there was the same night-silence one would find anywhere; but then the iron began to be shaken, the chains began to be moved. He didn’t lift his eyes or cease his writing, but strengthened his spirit and tried to ignore the sound. Then the noise increased and grew nearer- now it could be heard as if it were on the threshold, now as if it were past the threshold. Looking up, he saw and recognized the phantom he’d been told about. It stood there and beckoned to him with its finger, giving the impression of trying to speak. He, however, indicated with a hand motion that it should wait a little while, and returned to his wax tablets and stylus. The phantom rattled its chains above his head as he wrote. Looking again, he saw it beckoning just as before, and delaying no longer, he picked up the lamp and followed it. The spirit made its way with a slow walk, as if burdened by chains. After it turned off into the courtyard of the house, suddenly it vanished, leaving Athenodorus alone. He marked the spot with grass and leaves that he plucked.

The next day he approached the local magistrates and advised them to order that site to be dug up. Bones were found, fitted into chains and intertwined with them- bones that a body grown rotten with age and soil exposure had left bare and eaten away by the fetters. The bones were gathered and given a public funeral. After the shade had been put to rest in the proper manner, the house was plagued by it no longer.

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Inside the Roman Coliseum, October 2014


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Marcus Aurelius on ancient Roman coins


Marcus Aurelius on ancient Roman coins

Photographed at the Museum of London on January 4, 2011. (c) 2011 Colin Foote Burch

Similarities between the Pope & the Archbishop of Canterbury run deeper than you might expect


Read this post on how these two men are “associated with a recovery of nerve in Christian thought over recent decades.”

Part of their common ground? Augustine.

Mel Gibson’s dad hasn’t exactly helped


Not good for a movie star who took on the label misogynist shortly after putting on anti-Semite.

Apparently, Mel Gibson’s dad says the Pope is gay and the Vatican is full of homosexuals. Hutton Gibson, 91, also seems to believe that Freemasons and Jews were trying to use the Second Vatican Council (1962) to take over the Roman Catholic Church.

Well, maybe father and son just have a very close relationship.

Can we put Mel Gibson in context? Well, I can grudgingly go along with this assessment of racist, misogynistic artists throughout history.

And to think that Lethal Weapon 2 had an anti-racism theme on two levels: not just a black detective and a white detective working together; didn’t the movie had an anti-apartheid element, too?

The Pope was in a Lutheran church this past Sunday


Can’t believe I missed this. See the caption below, followed by another photo.
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VATICAN CITY, VATICAN – MARCH 14: Pope Benedict XVI listens the sermon of Rev. Jens-Martin Kruse during his visit to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Rome on March 14, 2010 in Vatican City, Vatican. Benedict spoke about the importance of relationships between the different Christian churches. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
Content © 2010 Getty Images All rights reserved.

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Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox begin mending historic rift


The Times of London reports today:

The Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches took tentative steps towards healing their 950-year rift yesterday by drafting a joint document that acknowledges the primacy of the Pope.

The 46-paragraph “Ravenna Document”, written by a special commission of Catholic and Orthodox officials, envisages a reunified church in which the Pope could be the most senior patriarch among the various Orthodox churches.

Just as Pope John Paul II was driven by the desire to bring down Communism, so Pope Benedict XVI hopes passionately to see the restoration of a unified Church. Although he is understood to favour closer relations with traditional Anglicans, the Anglican Communion is unlikely to be party to the discussions because of its ordination of women and other liberal practices.

Unification with the Orthodox churches could ultimately limit the authority of the Pope, lessening the absolute power that he currently enjoys within Catholicism. In contrast, a deal would greatly strengthen the Patriarch of Constantinople in his dealings with the Muslim world and the other Orthodox churches.

Wow. Read the full article here: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article2880038.ece