From the ancient writings of Plutarch, we can find a greek ghost story of the ghost of a young orphaned boy named Damon haunted a bathhouse in Chaeronea in Greece. According to the legend, the ghost haunted the place for centuries, perhaps even to this day?

Many of the oldest ghost stories sounds eerily alike to those of today, showing that the concept of ghost have been fairly consistent across time and place. Although most ghost stories from the ancient world is found in mythology and fairy tales, there are those ghost stories that comes from more historical records. Like this greek ghost story about a haunted bathhouse from the writings of Plutarch.

Read also: There are many ghost stories from ancient times, like Khonsuemheb and the Ghost of Theban Necropolis and Ghost of Tu-Po — The Hungry Ghost

Plutarch (AD 46–after 119), was a Greek Middle Platonist philosopher, biographer, essayist, and priest at the Temple of Apollo. He also served his last thirty years a priest in Delphi. He also was a part of The Eleusinian Mysteries for the cult of Demeter and Persephone based at Eleusis in ancient Greece. They are the “most famous of the secret religious rites of ancient Greece“. So a man of the spirits, to say the least.

From the ancient writings of Plutarch, we can find a greek ghost story of the ghost of a young orphaned boy named Damon haunted a bathhouse in Chaeronea in Greece.
Temple of Delphi: This area of Greece have always been steeped in mystery and this greek ghost story happened not far from the mystical temple of Delphi.

Plutarch is known primarily for his Parallel Lives, a series of biographies of famous men from that time. Although the writings is mostly about vices and virtues and about philosophy about moral, he managed to put in a couple of ghost stories here and there as well.

Ghosts in Ancient Greece

So how did the typical ghost in ancient Greece look like? Back then it was closely linked to Greek mythology as it was the go to for explaining the unexplainable.

In ancient Greece there was two underworld goddesses the restless spirits belonged to: Melinoe and Hecate. Both were associated by wandering at night, with a trail of ghosts behind them, striking fear in anyone who saw them and their train of restless spirits following them to the underworld as their hounds barked with them. The two goddesses were also the ones that oversaw the burial rituals, something that was very important for the Greek and their ghost stories.

From the ancient writings of Plutarch, we can find a greek ghost story of the ghost of a young orphaned boy named Damon haunted a bathhouse in Chaeronea in Greece.
The Spirits of the Underworld: This greek ghost story and most other stories was deep rooted in the Greek mythology. Here depicted in: Souls on the Banks of the Acheron by Adolf Hirémy-Hirschl in 1898.

There were three main categories of ghosts in ancient Greece that restless spirits could be divided into: the ataphoi, the aoroi and the biaiothanatoi.

The ataphoi was the spirit of those who had not had a proper burial and their mission haunting was to get the living to bury them properly so they would be able to move on. This was mostly an easy fix as long as you could find the body, and after they had a properly burial they would mostly just disappear to the afterlife.

The aoroi was ghost of those that died too young and had led an incomplete life and was a bit more tricky to deal with. This type of ghost could possible become vengeful after death because of the regret of dying before its time.

The biaiothanatos however was the ghost that died a violent death, either murdered or in war. Like the two other categories it was highly important with the proper funeral rites for the dead so they would not awake as ghosts and haunt the place and possible harm the living.

A Greek Ghost Story

One of the ghost stories we find in the biography is about Cimon (510-450 BC). The ghost story is set in Chaeronea in Boeotia in Central Greece, just east of Delphi. It was also the birth town of Plutarch and it is said this was a ghost story he personally knew off as the ghost was still about in his day and age.

This greek ghost story tells the story about Damon Peripoltas, an orphan boy, living in Chaeronea. At this time, the city was ravaged by war and poverty, making it a breeding ground for violence like this story turned out to be.

Damon was said to be a beautiful boy, more so than the rest. He was a descendant of Peripoltas, the ancient seer that led his people to Boeotia. The descendants of the seer were held in high esteem, but it all changed after Damon though.

Although he was deemed to be a beautiful boy, he was also regarded as a dangerous one. He was poor, untrained and filled with rage and had no problems with violence. Something the whole city was about to know the hard way.

The Roman Commander’s Advances

A Roman commander was wintering in Chaeronea with his unit. One day, the young Damon, just past his childhood, caught the commander’s eyes and the commander decided he wanted him. The Roman commander claimed he fell in love with the beautiful orphan boy and made a pass on him. He tried to shower Damon in presents and gifts to woo him over, but Damon refused and was offended by the grown man’s advances.

This made the commander angry and his approach towards Damon changed. He threatened the boy with violence and said he would send Damon into obscurity and poverty if he did not give into him.

Damon got afraid of the repercussions he would suffer at the hands of the Roman commander and fearing exactly this, as he had seen what poverty could do to a man, Damon plotted against the man before he was the one suffering. But he had no intention of giving into the commander.

Smeared With Soot and Drunk on Wine

Damon had grown up in the rough city on the streets and a violent end was all he knew off. He gathered sixteen of his friends to help him see the plot towards the Roman through. They smeared their face with soot one night and got drunk on wine to gather the courage to get on with it.

Just before the break of dawn they attacked the Roman commander as he was sacrificing to his gods in the marketplace. The crew of youngsters killed the Roman then and there, and together they left the city before getting caught.

From the ancient writings of Plutarch, we can find a greek ghost story of the ghost of a young orphaned boy named Damon haunted a bathhouse in Chaeronea in Greece.
A Tragic Greek Ghost Story: This story ended in blood as almost everyone in the story ended up murdered. Here a depiction of the assassination of the Roman emperor, Julius Caesar who also were murdered by a group in a public place.

According to Roman law presiding in the city, this was punished by death, and this was the sentence the counsel of Chaeronea gave them. So, as the council sat to supper in the evening, Damon and his men broke into the town-hall were they were dining and slew them all. And yet again, they flew the city.

Hunted by the Romans

An investigation was done and they asked Damon to return, noticing the city also had been wrong. Damon was ravaging and pillaging the countryside with his accomplices, having fallen to poverty as he desperately didn’t want to. He was even making threats to the city that had cast him out. They lured him back by appointing him gymnasiarch, a high honor as an official, that would lead to respect and riches. He couldn’t refuse.

But when he came, he was having a vapor bath in the bathhouse and was slain. But they would never silence him as it was said that the ghost of Damon haunted the bathhouse.

His ghost roamed the bathhouse and the phantom of him appeared in it, sighing and groaning of his life that was cut short and from the betrayal.

The Haunted Bathhouse

Because of the ruckus from the ghost in the bathhouse, the citizens walled the bathhouse shut, trying to keep him inside, trying to put a lid on the past and their deeds. And it was said that still in Plutarch’s time, neighbors could still hear him inside, trying to get out again, to flew the city once more and finally be free.

From the ancient writings of Plutarch, we can find a greek ghost story of the ghost of a young orphaned boy named Damon haunted a bathhouse in Chaeronea in Greece.
Haunted Bathhouse: The greek were famous of their advanced public bathhouses. In this greek ghost story, the locals had to close up the bathhouse as the ghost of the murdered Damon kept crying and trying to escape.

Descendants of Damon’s family still lived at that time, near Stiris in Phocis. They are called Asbolomeni, or Besooted because of how Damon smeared himself with soot before committing his crimes.

What happened with the bathhouse and this greek ghost story if the place ever got quiet is uncertain, as ghost that met a violent end had a habit of holding a grudge for a long time.


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