Though many of the rules of vampirism are made for movies and TV shows, there is one that hangs true, and that’s that only a vampire can make another vampire, which begs the question, how was the first vampire created and where did vampirism originate?
Despite popular belief, the origin of vampirism may reach back as far as Ancient Greece. The story comes from the Scriptures of Delphi, however the scripture was written by a mother and grandson who’s family claimed to have a prophetic lineage to Ancient Greece. Both are now dead, so there is no way to verify whether or not the story is legitimate, either way, here it is:
Ambrogio, Selene and the Greek Gods – 450BC
A young Italian explorer named Ambrogio made his way to the Oracle of Delphi in western Greece to have his fortune told. When Ambrogio arrived, he went straight to the Pythia (oracles), who’s words to him were ”The curse. The sun. The blood will run.”
The next day, Ambrogio met a beautiful woman named Selene and the two soon fell in love. On his last day in Greece, he asked Selene to marry him and return to Italy with him. Apollo had been watching. Infuriated that Ambrogio thought he could take a maiden from his temple, Apollo cursed him so that any exposure to sunlight would burn his skin, making it impossible for him to meet Selene the next morning to depart for Italy.
Ambrogio sought cover in a cave which was home to Hades, God of the underworld. In a deal that involved stealing the silver bow of Artemis (Apollo’s sister), Hades would provide protection in the underworld for him and Selene. Later, Ambrogio managed to deceived Artemis to obtain the bow. Furious, she cursed him so that if he ever touched silver again, his skin would burn.
Ambrogio begged for forgiveness and explained the deal with Hades and the sunlight curse her brother, Apollo, had put on him, as well as his love for Selene. Taking pity on him, Artemis decided to balance the scales. He was not relinquished of his previous curses, but he was granted the gift of immortality. In addition, Artemis granted him superior speed and strength. Skills which were only inferior to her own.
When European settlers first came to North America, they considered the vast forests a place of unease where supernatural entities were hidden as well as a place for witches and demons to conduct their dark rituals and magic. Europeans brought many beliefs and myths with them that paired well with supernatural myth and dark forests, including the belief that corpses would return from the dead and feed on the living.
These creatures went by many names in European folklore: the revenant, the aptganger, and of course the most well-known; the vampire.
Later in the late 1800s, New England announced a ”vampire panic” due to many people turning pale and dying. The true cause was a tuberculosis outbreak, better known as ”The White Plague”, but that didn’t stop bodies being exhumed, examined and organs burned to prevent the dead from returning to drain the life-force out the living.
This event that lasted many years and despite the true cause of the ”vampire panic” being tuberculosis, many still consider it a basis for vampire belief in modern day.
Bram Stoker, Count Dracula and Vlad the Impaler – 1897
Another main source for people’s exposure to vampires was Bram Stoker‘s 1897 novel titled Dracula. Although the iconic story was not published until the end of the 19th century, the inspiration for the character was said to come from a much earlier time.
In 1490, a monk who referred to Vlad III as a fierce, but just ruler, wrote the book “The Tale of Dracula” which shared many of the legends of Vlad. Nearly 400 years later, Bram Stoker released the book titled Dracula, which was inspired by Vlad.
Despite Vlad being the inspiration for Stoker’s epic character, history suggests that other than the name, ”Dracula”, and a taste for blood, the real-life Dracula and the fictional character shared nothing in common.
Also, Bran Castle in Transylvania, which was considered Dracula’s castle had no link to Vlad III whatsoever. There is no evidence that he even stepped foot in the castle.
Whether the origins and first mention of vampirism was attributed to one of these or all of these, each certainly played an important role to get the vampire community to where it is today.
Everything from The New England Vampire, Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, A Shade of Vampire and Interview with the Vampire have taken inspiration from these to shape the world and rules of vampires on the big screen and in books.
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