[This is taken from Augustine Calmet's Phantom World, originally published in 1850, revised and edited by D. J. McAdam, 2010. Copyright as such.]
If what is related of vampires were certainly true, the question here proposed would be frivolous and useless; they would reply to us directly—In Hungary, Moravia, and Poland, persons who were dead and interred a long time, have been seen to return, to appear, and torment men and animals, suck their blood, and cause their death.
These persons come back to earth in their own bodies; people see them, know them, exhume them, try them, impale them, cut off their heads, burn them. It is then not only possible, but very true and very real, that they appear in their own bodies.
It might be added in support of this belief, that the Scriptures themselves give instances of these apparitions: for example, at the Transfiguration of our Savior, Elias and Moses appeared on Mount Tabor, there conversing with Jesus Christ. We know that Elias is still alive. I do not cite him as an instance; but in regard to Moses, his death is not doubtful; and yet he appeared bodily talking with Jesus Christ. The dead who came out of their graves at the resurrection of the Savior, and who appeared to many persons in Jerusalem, had been in their sepulchers for several years; there was no doubt of their being dead; and nevertheless they appeared and bore testimony to the resurrection of the Savior.
When Jeremiah appeared to Judas Maccabeus, and placed in his hand a golden sword, saying to him, "Receive this sword as a gift from God, with which you will vanquish the enemies of my people of Israel;" it was apparently this prophet in his own person who appeared to him and made him that present, since by his mien he was recognized as the prophet Jeremiah.
I do not speak of those persons who were really restored to life by a miracle, as the son of the widow of Shunem resuscitated by Elijah; nor of the dead man who, on touching the coffin of the same prophet, rose upon his feet and revived; nor of Lazarus, to whom Jesus Christ restored life in a way so miraculous and striking. Those persons lived, drank, ate, and conversed with mankind, after, as before their death and resurrection.
It is not of such persons that we now speak. I speak, for instance, of Pierre resuscitated by Stanislaus for a few hours; of those persons of whom I made mention in the treatise on the Apparitions of Spirits, who appeared, spoke, and revealed hidden things, and whose resurrection was but momentary, and only to manifest the power of God, in order to bear witness to truth and innocence, or to maintain the credit of the church against obstinate heretics, as we read in various instances.
St. Martin, being newly made Archbishop of Tours, conceived some suspicions against an altar which the bishops his predecessors had erected to a pretended martyr, of whom they knew neither the name nor the history, and of whom none of the priests or ministers of the chapel could give any certain account. He abstained for some time from going to this spot, which was not far from the city; but one day he repaired thither accompanied by a few monks, and having prayed, he besought God to let him know who it was that was interred there. He then perceived on his left a hideous and dirty-looking apparition; and having commanded it to tell him who he was, the specter declared his name, and confessed to him that he was a robber, who had been put to death for his crimes and acts of violence, and that he had nothing in common with the martyrs. Those who were present heard distinctly what he said, but saw no one. St. Martin had the tomb overthrown, and cured the ignorant people of their superstitions.
The philosopher Celsus, writing against the Christians, maintained that the apparitions of Jesus Christ to his apostles were not real, but that they were simply shadowy forms which appeared. Origen, retorting his reasoning, tells him that the pagans give an account of various apparitions of Asclepius and Apollo, to which they attribute the power of predicting future events. If these appearances are admitted to be real, because they are attested by some, why not receive as true those of Jesus Christ, which are related by ocular witnesses, and believed by millions of persons?
He afterwards relates this history. Aristeus, who belonged to one of the first families of Proconnesus, having one day entered a foulon shop, died there suddenly. The shopkeeper having locked the door, ran directly to inform the relations of the deceased; but as the report was instantly spread in the town, a man of Cyzica, who came from Astacia, affirmed that it could not be, because he had met Aristeus on the road from Cyzica, and had spoken to him, which he loudly maintained before all the people of Proconnesus.
Thereupon the relations arrive at the foulon's, with all the necessary apparatus for carrying away the body; but when they entered the house, they could not find Aristeus there, either dead or alive. Seven years after, he showed himself in the very town of Proconnesus; made there those verses which are termed Arimaspean, and then disappeared for the second time. Such is the story related of him in those places.
Three hundred and forty years after that event, the same Aristeus showed himself in Metapontus, in Italy, and commanded the Metapontines to build an altar to Apollo, and afterwards to erect a statue in honor of Aristeus of Proconnesus, adding that they were the only people of Italy whom Apollo had honored with his presence; as for himself who spoke to them, he had accompanied that god in the form of a crow; and having thus spoken he disappeared.
The Metapontines sent to consult the oracle of Delphi concerning this apparition; the Delphic oracle told them to follow the counsel which Aristeus had given them, and it would be well for them; in fact, they did erect a statue to Apollo, which was still to be seen there in the time of Herodotus; and at the same time, another statue to Aristeus, which stood in a small plantation of laurels, in the midst of the public square of Metapontus. Celsus made no difficulty of believing all that on the word of Herodotus, though Pindar and he refused credence to what the Christians taught of the miracles wrought by Jesus Christ, related in the Gospel and sealed with the blood of martyrs. Origen adds, What could Providence have designed in performing for this Proconnesian the miracles we have just mentioned? What benefit could mankind derive from them? Whereas, what the Christians relate of Jesus Christ serves to confirm a doctrine which is beneficial to the human race. We must, then, either reject this story of Aristeus as fabulous, or ascribe all that is told of it as the work of the evil spirit.
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