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The Sources:

Bernhard Schmidt:
"Das Volksleben der Neugriechen und das hellenische Alterthum"
Leipzig, 1871

Saverio Scrofani:
"Voyage en Grèce, de Xavier Scrofani, Sicilien, fait en 1794 et 1795"
Teuttel et Würtz, Paris, 1801

The Case:

This is what Schmidt tells us:

"Einen solchen Fall berichtet Scrofani S. 38 f. von der Insel Zakynthos, woselbts eins eine junge Frau das Grab ihres verstorbenen Geliebten, dessen Gespenst ihr des Nachts keine Ruhe liess, oeffnete und Haende und Fuesse des Leichnams mit vier grossen Naegeln festnagelte, was eine gerichtliche Klage von seite der Anverwandten des Verstorbenen zur Folge hatte."

Which more or less means that Schmidt found this case in a book written by Saverio Scrofani. On the island of Zakynthos a young woman had opened the grave of her dead lover - because his spectre did not leave her at peace during the night - and so she hammered 4 large nails through his hands and feet. The family of the deceased took her to court about it.

So far Mr. Schmidt. Of course I also found the French translation of Saverio Scrofani's work. Has he any new details to add to the story ? Oh yes, he has. First of all he gives us the name of the young lady in question: Hélène Mettaranga. And whereas Schmidt calls the island Zakynthos, Scrofani uses the old name Zante.

We learn that after seeing the ghost she had 2 masses read, gave bread and money to the poor, and also sent a nice fat sheep to the Monastery of Panagia. Sadly this did not help to banish the spectre. So she went to the graveyard, dug up the corpse and nailed it to the earth. Afterwards she told her secret to a friend who informed the parents of the dead man. They demanded that the girl should get the death penalty, but some high official named Bembo took an interest in the case, defended the girl and became her protector.

The Date:

No date is given so we will take it that these facts took place before or during Scrofani's journey, so let us file it as "before 1794".

The Place:

Zakynhtos is a small island that can be found to the West of the Greek capital Athens.

Possible Follow-Up:

Find the book by Schmidt, or better still, go straight to the source and find the book by Scrofani, preferably the Italian version.

© 2014 by Rob Brautigam - NL - Last changed September 2014

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