I.1 Vampires – conceptions and short history

I was thinking today that I did not post anything about vampires. A strange thing because in high school, vampire books and movies of the same category were among my passions. So the article today will be with vampires.

What are vampires?

Vampires are mythological or folkloric beings who survive by feeding blood from living creatures, whether they are undead or living. Monsters who hunt without mercy, in the night hidden under a black mantle.

Where did the initial vampire come from?

The first sources date back 4,000 years ago, to the Assyrians and to the Babylonians in Mesopotamia.

Lamastu. It translates into „the one that wipes”, the children and the adults, and brings illness, sterility and nightmares. In the Assyrian legends, Lamastu, the daughter of Anu, was sneaking into people’s homes at night and stealing or killing babies, either in their cradles or in the mother’s womb. Those who believed these legends attributed the syndrome of sudden child death or spontaneous abortion to this monster.

It is often described with wings and claws like birds, and sometimes with a lion’s head. To protect themselves from Lamastu, pregnant women wore amulets with Pazuzu, another evil god who once defeated Lamastu.

Lilith, a prominent figure in some Jewish texts. Writings about Lilith vary considerably, but the most common version of stories is that she was the first woman. God created Adam and Lilith from Earth, but soon problems arose between them. Lilith refused to obey Adam because they are both made of the earth.

In an ancient version of the legend, Lilith left Eden and gave birth to his own children. God sent three angels to bring her back, and when she refused, they promised to kill 100 of her children every day until she returned. Lilith instead vowed to destroy the children of men.

Lilith’s image as a child killer seems to have been taken directly from the legend of Lamatsu. She is often described as a waxed demon and sharp claws, which comes at night especially to steal newborn or stillborn babies.

The ancient Greeks were afraid of similar creatures, especially Lamia, a woman with a head and a trunk but with the bottom of the snake body. In a version of the legend, Lamia was one of Zeus’ mortal miracles. Full of jealousy and rage, Zeus’s wife, the goddess Hera, made Lamia crazy, so she ate all the kids.

After realizing what she did, Lamia became so angry that she turned into an immortal monster that sucks the blood of young children from jealousy to their mothers.
Like Lilith and Lamastu, Lamia is described as half woman – half animal.

Empusal, the evil daughter of Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft. Empusai, who could change shape, came the night of Hades (the underworld) as a beautiful woman. Then she was seduce pastors from the field and devoured them. A similar creature, baobhan sith, appears in Celtic folklore.

Vampire-like creatures also appear in the long history and Asian mythology. Indian folklore describes several nightmare characters, including rakshasa, a creature like a gargle that can change shape and eat children, demons who enter and take control of dead bodies recently and attack the living. In Chinese folklore, the corpses could sometimes rise from the grave and walk again.

Vampires from Moldova, Walachia and Transylvania (the territories now forming our country, Romania) are called undead. These undefended are almost always human spirits who have returned from the dead. Unlike the vampire or the vrykolakas, the strigoes pass through several stages before leaving the grave.

Initially, he becomes an invisible poltergeist, who tortures his family members by moving furniture and stealing food. After some time it becomes visible, showing just like when it was a living person. Again, the poltergeist returns to his family, steals their cattle, takes food and brings illnesses. poltergeist feed on people, first family members, and then anyone who comes in their way. In some descriptions the poltergeist sucks the victim’s blood directly from the heart.

Besides dead dead, people were afraid of live vampires, or live vagabonds. Live shouts were called cursed men to become dead undead after their death. Children born with malformations were usually considered vicious. If a dead poltergeist lives among people and has children, these children are cursed to become dead (dead) after death. If a person considered a living virgin dies, the family destroyed the body to be sure it would not return from the grave.

In other parts of Eastern Europe, creatures like the poltergeist were known as the vampire or vampyr, probably a variation of the Russian uprising. Later, English adopted this name, becoming „vampire”.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, vampire hysteria spread to Eastern Europe. People said they were seeing their deceased relatives hanging around, attacking the living. Authorities have opened dozens of graves, burning and tapping into bodies. Vampire-related panic news has also reached Western Europe, leading to many academic speculation about these creatures, as well as poems and vampire paintings.

Throughout history, there were more people who had vampire behavior. The most famous vampire was Elisabeth of Bathory, a nobleman from Transylvania who lived between 1560-1614. Elizabeth, who was horrified by the thought of aging, was convinced that bathing (and perhaps consuming) blood is the secret of a young look.

For this, he tortured and killed hundreds of people, most young girls. At the end, she was judged for her crimes and jailed in her castle, where she died.

Contemporary vampires

In 1927, „Dracula”, and in the film that followed in 1931, Bela Lugosi adopted this notion of artist, acting as a suave and sophisticated man. This piece also introduced Dracula’s familiar costume – black clothes and a mantle. In the novel „Dracula,” the count is described as an old man. But the image of Dracula’s suave caught on to the audience and remained so in dozens of movies, series and drawings.

The image of the vampire continued to evolve over the years with the reinterpretation of the filmmakers and filmmakers. In the popular short stories of Anne Rice, she takes the vampires to the next „level” and gives them a conscience. In her world, vampires are not necessarily bad – they are portrayed as real people with feelings and emotions. For example, in the television series „Buffy, Vampire Killer”, creator Joss Whedon adopted similar ideas of soul vampires. Also, Stephenie Meyer creator of the Twilight series describing a tumultuous love story between a common man and a vampire.

In this article I introduced vampires in history, folklore concepts. Ultimately, our fascination with the supernatural defines the extent to which we manifest our fears through these unknown, mysterious and paranormal events.

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