Revival or Apparition of a Girl who had been Dead some Months

By Augustine Calmet.

Phlegonus, freed-man of the Emperor Adrian, in the fragment of the book which he wrote on wonderful things, says that at Tralla, in Asia, a certain man named Machates, an innkeeper, was connected with a girl named Philinium, the daughter of Demostrates and Chariton. This girl being dead, and placed in her grave, continued to come every night for six months to see her gallant, to drink, eat, and sleep with him. One day this girl was recognized by her nurse, when she was sitting by Machates. The nurse ran to give notice of this to Chariton, the girl's mother, who, after making many difficulties, came at last to the inn; but as it was very late, and everybody gone to bed, she could not satisfy her curiosity. However, she recognized her daughter's clothes, and thought she recognized the girl herself in bed with Machates. She returned the next morning, but having missed her way, she no longer found her daughter, who had already withdrawn. Machates related everything to her; how, since a certain time, she had come to him every night; and in proof of what he said, he opened his casket and showed her the gold ring which Philinium had given him, and the band with which she covered her bosom, and which she had left with him the preceding night.

Chariton, who could no longer doubt the truth of the circumstance, now gave way to cries and tears; but as they promised to inform her the following night, when Philinium should return, she went away home. In the evening the girl came back as usual, and Machates sent directly to let her father and mother know, for he began to fear that some other girl might have taken Philinium's clothes from the sepulcher, in order to deceive him by the illusion.

Demostrates and Chariton, on arriving, recognized their daughter and ran to embrace her; but she cried out, "Oh, father and mother, why have you grudged me my happiness, by preventing me from remaining three days longer with this innkeeper without injury to any one? for I did not come here without permission from the gods, that is to say, from the demon, since we cannot attribute to God, or to a good spirit, a thing like that. Your curiosity will cost you dear." At the same time, she fell down stiff and dead, and extended on the bed.

Phlegon, who had some command in the town, stayed the crowd and prevented a tumult. The next day, the people being assembled at the theatre, they agreed to go and inspect the vault in which Philinium, who had died six months before, had been laid. They found there the corpses of her family arranged in their places, but they found not the body of Philinium. There was only an iron ring, which Machates had given her, with a gilded cup, which she had also received from him. Afterwards they went back to the dwelling of Machates, where the body of the girl remained lying on the ground.

They consulted a diviner, who said that she must be interred beyond the limits of the town; they must appease the furies and terrestrial Mercury, make solemn funeral ceremonies to the god Manes, and sacrifice to Jupiter Hospitaller, to Mercury, and Mars. Phlegon adds, speaking to him to whom he was writing: "If you think proper to inform the emperor of it, write to me, that I may send you some of those persons who were eye-witnesses of all these things."

Here is the fact circumstantially related, and invested with all the marks which can make it pass for true. Nevertheless, how numerous are the difficulties it presents! Was this young girl really dead, or only sleeping? Was her resurrection effected by her own strength and will, or was it a demon who restored her to life? It appears that it cannot be doubted that it was her own body; all the circumstances noted in the recital of Phlegon persuade us of it. If she was not dead, and all she did was merely a game and a play which she performed to satisfy her passion for Machates, there is nothing in all this recital very incredible. We know what illicit love is capable of, and how far it may lead any one who is devoured by a violent passion. The same Phlegon says that a Syrian soldier of the army of Antiochus, after having been killed at Thermopylæ, appeared in open day in the Roman camp, where he spoke to several persons.

Haralde, or Harappe, a Dane, who caused himself to be buried at the entrance of his kitchen, appeared after his death, and was wounded by one Olaüs Pa, who left the iron of his lance in the wound. This Dane, then, appeared bodily. Was it his soul which moved his body, or a demon which made use of this corpse to disturb and frighten the living? Did he do this by his own strength, or by the permission of God? And what glory to God, what advantage to men, could accrue from these apparitions? Shall we deny all these facts, related in so circumstantial a manner by enlightened authors, who have no interest in deceiving us, nor any wish to do so?

St. Augustine relates that, during his abode at Milan, a young man had a suit instituted against him by a person who repeated his demand for a debt already paid the young man's father, but the receipt for which could not be found. The ghost of the father appeared to the son, and informed him where the receipt was which occasioned him so much trouble.

St. Macarius, the Egyptian, made a dead man speak who had been interred some time, in order to discover a deposit which he had received and hidden unknown to his wife. The dead man declared that the money was slipped down at the foot of his bed.

The same St. Macarius, not being able to refute in any other way a heretic Eunomian, according to some, or Hieracitus, according to others, said to him, "Let us go to the grave of a dead man, and ask him to inform us of the truth which you will not agree to." The heretic dared not present himself at the grave; but St. Macarius went thither, accompanied by a multitude of persons. He interrogated the dead, who replied from the depth of the tomb, that if the heretic had appeared in the crowd he should have arisen to convince him, and to bear testimony to the truth. St. Macarius commanded him to fall asleep again in the Lord, till the time when Jesus Christ should awaken him in his place at the end of the world.

The ancients, who have related the same fact, vary in some of the circumstances, as is usual enough when those things are related only from memory.

St. Spiridion, Bishop of Trinitontis, in Egypt, had a daughter named Irene, who lived in virginity till her death. After her decease, a person came to Spiridion and asked him for a deposit which he had confided to Irene unknown to her father. They sought in every part of the house, but could find nothing. At last Spiridion went to his daughter's tomb, and calling her by her name, asked her where the deposit was. She declared the same, and Spiridion restored it.

A holy abbot named Erricles resuscitated for a moment a man who had been killed, and of whose death they accused a monk who was perfectly innocent. The dead man did justice to the accused, and the Abbot Erricles said to him, "Sleep in peace, till the Lord shall come at the last day to resuscitate you to all eternity."

All these momentary resurrections may serve to explain how the revenans of Hungary come out of their graves, then return to them, after having caused themselves to be seen and felt for some time. But the difficulty will always be to know, 1st, If the thing be true; 2d, If they can resuscitate themselves; and, 3d, If they are really dead, or only asleep. In what way soever we regard this circumstance, it always appears equally impossible and incredible.


This is taken from Phantom World, originally published in 1850.





Copyright © D. J. McAdam· All Rights Reserved