Have you ever wondered how these remarkable creatures came to be? When I began writing my first vampire series, Snow Blood, I asked myself that question and ultimately began the research into vampire myths.
Most people think vampire myths all began with Count Dracula, the blood sucking villain in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, published in 1897. My research uncovered that the mythological history of vamps began long before.
I thought you might enjoy what I discovered.
I traced the first vampire to Greek mythology, through the Vampire Bible. It recounts the story of a young Italian man named Ambrogio and the love of his life, Selena.
Desperate, Ambrogio turns to Hades, the god of the underworld, and then Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, for help. After stealing Artemis’s silver bow to fulfill a deal made with Hades, Artemis curses Ambrogio so silver will burn his skin. She later takes pity on him, though, and gives him super strength, immortality, and fangs to kill beasts to use their blood to write love poems to Selena.
Finally, Selena, still mortal, escapes Apollo and reunites with immortal Ambrogio. Artemis tells Ambrogio he can make the woman he loves immortal by drinking her blood, thus killing her body but making her spirit live on. The mingling of their blood turns anyone who drinks it into a vampire.
Of course, I adore this myth and adapted it to Brogio and Selene in my Snow Blood Series!
The Middle Ages
Vampire superstition became prevalent in the Middle Ages, particularly with the plague raining death to its victims who were left with bleeding mouth lesions. To the uneducated masses, this was a sign of vampirism.
When mass graves were re-opened during epidemics to deposit fresh corpses, grave diggers often encountered older, bloated bodies with blood seeping out of their mouths. These are conditions that scientists now know result from the buildup of gases in decomposing organs. At that time, though, this was regarded as a sign that corpses were drinking the blood of others.
During that time, it was common for people with unfamiliar emotional or physical illnesses to be labeled as creatures of the night. Research indicates that porphyria may have been linked to the vampire legend. Porphyria is a blood disorder that causes severe skin blisters when exposed to sunlight. Symptoms of the disease can be momentarily relieved by ingesting blood! Rabies also has been blamed for promoting the vampire myth.
A real person is the source of a vampire myth. Mercy Brown lived in Exeter, Rhode Island and was the daughter of George Brown, a farmer.
George Brown’s community used his daughter, Mercy, as the explanation for multiple deaths in her family in the late 1800s. Mercy, and many of her family members died of tuberculosis. It was common practice in that era to blame multiple deaths in one family on the undead. These bodies were often exhumed and searched for signs of vampirism.
To avoid perpetuating vampire superstitions, these modern vampires keep to themselves and conduct their feeding rituals in private. These rituals involve drinking the blood of willing donors. Communities of these self-proclaimed vampires can be found on the Internet and around the world.
Some claim not to drink human blood but avow they feed off the energy of others. Thus, the term “energy vampires”? These individuals claim they become agitated if they don’t feed regularly.
Other myths persist, and I could go on. But this read might be overly long. If you want to read a little more, here’s a lengthy article about Polish Vampires.
For now, let’s just say that I’ve always been a huge fan of Greek Mythology, and, to me, the story of Ambrogio and Selena was intriguing enough for me to put forth my story of the original vampire. Hope you’ll read it sometime!
External Links and Resources: