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Old 09-02-2003, 05:28 AM
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Etymology of vampire, dracula


I'm doing some research on vampires (no, really, you can stop giggling) and I'm trying to get more info on the words themselves. "Dracula" apparently means "son of the dragon" and of course is associated with Vlad the Impaler, inspiration for Stoker's novel. Does this word go back further in history, and specifically related to the vampire legend? As in, were there other Draculas way back when who may or may not have been vampires?

And vampire: dictionary.com says ]French, from German Vampir, of Slavic origin.] Has this word always been associated with the "undead who suck blood", yadda yadda, or did it ever have a different meaning?

Some more questions: has the vampire legend been put in novel form before Stoker's? I'm trying to track down some early English language novels (short stories?) that pre-date Stoker's and in fact inspired him. Maybe some Balkan novel--Hungarian?--that was translated into English?

And about the Balkans, is this the true birthplace of the vampire legend? How far back does it go? I seem to remember that the Chinese had their own vampire legend very similar to what we know today.

Anyway, thanks in advance for any info you have.
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Old 09-02-2003, 05:41 AM
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I think it depends on your definition of "vampire", because there have been many "vampire-like" creatures throughout history (mythology speaking, that is).

Here's a good article. It may be of some help.

Some googling has turned up the following:
History of Vampires (not very in detail).

Here's some stuff that Cecil wrote:

Did vampires suffer from the disease porphyria--or not?

What's the best way to kill a vampire?
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Old 09-02-2003, 06:27 AM
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For information on Vampires and the real Vlad the Impaler check out "In Search of Dracula" by McNally and Florescu.

As for the age of vampire legends I have read of roman vampires called lamia (lamiae ?) which are similar to modern vampires.

Also check out "The Vampire"by Montague Summers (it's old but may still be in print) which makes reference to Lillith (the first wife of Adam in Hebrew mythology) being the mother of vampires.

Hope this gives you some areas to look into.
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Old 09-02-2003, 06:33 AM
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From here http://www.net4u.ro/dracula/truth.html :
Quote:
In the Roman antiquity, the dragon, a fantastic animal,was dedicated to Minerva Goddess, meaning the idea that reason and wisdom never fall asleep.In the Christian world the dragon was used to personify the spirit of evil and the force of the demon. The knights of the Middle Ages adopted it as a symbol of different obstacles that had to be overcome or as a sign of power. It is this ancient symbol of the Order of Dragon from which the name of " Dracul " is supposed to be assigned to Vlad I, as a nickname, the origin of which is a Europen noble rank and that became a name itself later. The name Dracula, given to the son of Vlad I, derives, according to the tradition the Romanian names are being formed, from his name Dracul, to which was added the inflexion " a ", which proves the fact that Dracula is Dracul's son.
In Romanian, dracul meant "dragon" or "devil". The word is now used only to mean "devil", according to this site.
The man himself had the given name Vlad ޥpeº Dracula (if those accents don't come out, it's Tepes with cedilla-like accents below the T and the s; pronounced roughly Tsepesh).
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Old 09-02-2003, 06:58 AM
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Also check out David Sklar's books Hollywood Gothic, The Monster Show, and V is for Vampire. He's good on the history of Dracula and other vampires in literature, stage, and film. One of his more interesting findings is that, despite what others have written, he can't find evidence that "nosferatu" is a word, or means "undead" prior to its appearance in vampire fiction.
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Old 09-02-2003, 05:14 PM
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In Bram Stoker's novel, Prof. Van Helsing makes a passing remark that he wonders if perhaps Count Dracula is not a descendant of Vlad the Impaler, but, in fact, really is Vlad the Impaler.

As previous posters have noted, one can get into semantic difficulties when discussing vampires. Stories about monsters and demons who survive on human blood go back well into the B.C. period. If we define a vampire as someone who was once an ordinary human and now is "undead", though, we are dealing with a much newer phenomenon. I have read that the first accounts of their existence go back to England in the 11th Century. Sorry: I don't have a cite handy.

The story is well-known of how Lord Byron attended dinner at the vacation home of Percy Shelley in Switzerland and, in a conversation after dinner, it was suggested that each of the people in attendance--Shelley, his wife Mary, her stepsister Claire Clairemont (spelling?) and Dr. John Polidori might try writing a ghost story. Later that night Mary Shelley awoke from a nightmare about a huge man with glowing yellow eyes, from which she took the inspiration for her novel Frankenstein: The New Prometheus.

A short time later a story was published in England entitled B]The Vampyre[/B]. To borrow Mark Twain's phrase, it is choloroform in print. This story was originally credited to Lord Byron, but was eventually proven to have been written by John Polidori after Byron had told him the idea for a story he thought he might write. Polidori claimed that the publisher had "misunderstood" him when he sold him the story. Byron never wrote more than the first few pages of his story, and after the Polidori controversy became a popular scandal it was published as A Fragment.

It's too bad he didn't finish, as it is an interesting start, and quite crisply written. In it, two Englishmen are traveling across Europe when one day, while visiting a remote cemetery, the one interprets the appearance of a bird as an omen that he is about to die. He makes his friend swear that he will bury him there in an unmarked grave and tell no one. All of this then comes to pass. Had he finished the story, Byron intended to have the man who made the promise return to London and find that his friend is there, and eventually figure out that he is a vampire.

The Polidori and Byron stories seemed to have introduced vampires as a popular subject for fiction in Great Britain. Gothic horror fiction was just coming into vogue, and thereafter there were a number of cheaply-printed sensationalistic novels of a type called "bloods" or "penny dreadfuls" which used a vampire theme. One particularly well-known one was called Varney the Vampire.

The Reverend Montague Summers wrote two books about vampire legends: The Vampire in Europe and The Vampire his Kith and Kin. Like his other books on occult subjects, they make for very entertaining reading, as Summers was an exhaustive researcher who seemed ready to believe anything. He also has a unique style, for instance using the phrase "the cold clay of his inamorata" in relating a story about necophilia.

Summers is referred to in many sources as having actually believed in the existence of vampires, and in some of his other writings--most notably A History of Witchcraft and Black Magic, he insists that there is an international conspiracy of Satanists who can perform real magic, create zombies, etc. IIRC, however, he never actually comes out and says he believes in vampires in either book. Instead, he sort of teases the reader, merely saying that various conventional explanations for vampire legends, taken alone, are not sufficient to account for the tradition.

It has been suggested that Summers was himself an ex-Satanist. In any event, he was a mysterious figure. He wrote as though he were an ordained Roman Catholic priest, yet he never seemed to have an active affiliation with any sort of Catholic ministry, and his books were all published without the advance review and approval of the Church.
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Old 09-02-2003, 05:22 PM
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Another thought: in Stoker's novel, unlike the many movie adaptations, Dracula does not have to return to his coffin; rather, Dracula (who can travel about in sunlight), must return to his native soil to rest, and so carries dirt around in a casket.

Stoker was Irish, and I have long wondered to what degree old Irish folktales influenced him. There are old Irish legends about ghosts who are forced to wander the earth because they buried in foreign soil and so become lost on their way to wherever it is they're headed. There are also stories of ghostly hearses which arrive at night in cemeteries. The mysterious occupants of these conveyances dig up the coffins of foreign-born people, then disappear into the darkness without a trace.

Incidentally, if Summers is correct, the Irish of earlier times believed one couldn't kill a vampire--or at least they knew no means for doing so. Instead, one would instead confine him forever after he returned to the earth.
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Old 09-02-2003, 06:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by r_k
From here http://www.net4u.ro/dracula/truth.html :

In Romanian, dracul meant "dragon" or "devil". The word is now used only to mean "devil", according to this site.
The man himself had the given name Vlad ޥpeº Dracula (if those accents don't come out, it's Tepes with cedilla-like accents below the T and the s; pronounced roughly Tsepesh).
If you feel like telling someone to "Go to Hell!" in Romanian, you can say "Du-te dracului!" Translated literally it means something like "Go yourself to the devil!" Just thought I'd chime in.
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Old 09-02-2003, 07:03 PM
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Couple bits of info I've always wanted verified, out of curiosity.

A) In Bram Stoker's original novel, Dracula could be in the sunlight, correct?

B) Was Nosferatu the first vampire mythos to introduce the fact that sunlight was lethal?

The first is a bit that I could swear I heard once, but I've never read the novel myself. I seem to recall someone describing a scene where he's in a townsquare shopping during the day.

The second part struck me as funny when I heard the first part, because I realised that a movie that was nearly wiped out of existence for stealing so blatantly from Bram Stoker's novel was later used as a basis for the Bram Stoker's Dracula film, in which sunlight was very unhealthy for Dracula. Old mythology always seemed to mention running water, garlic, stakes, and later on, crosses, but I don't think I've ever seen one that said anything about sunlight. They were always nocturnal, but only because most predators and monsters are. The dark is just a scarier setting for a legend.
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Old 09-02-2003, 07:06 PM
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Ack, wish I could edit. I see my first question's already been answered.
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Old 09-02-2003, 07:21 PM
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lots of monsters turn to stone in sunlight. I think its like silver (lots of monsters have silver weakness in some story because everyone confuses which monster has which weakness)
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Old 09-02-2003, 07:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Slugworth
Couple bits of info I've always wanted verified, out of curiosity.

A) In Bram Stoker's original novel, Dracula could be in the sunlight, correct?

B) Was Nosferatu the first vampire mythos to introduce the fact that sunlight was lethal?
A) Yes. I think the Dracula movie with Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder was the only one that kept this fact instead of bowing to vampire convention. I don't think Stoker's Dracula was invisible in mirrors either.

B) According to Florescu and McNally's book In Search of Dracula, yes. Even then the vampire was only killed by the sun because of some flim-flam involving a virgin's devotion or such.
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Old 09-02-2003, 08:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by CalMeacham
Also check out David Sklar's books Hollywood Gothic, The Monster Show, and V is for Vampire. He's good on the history of Dracula and other vampires in literature, stage, and film. One of his more interesting findings is that, despite what others have written, he can't find evidence that "nosferatu" is a word, or means "undead" prior to its appearance in vampire fiction.
Not David Sklar, but David J. Skal, whom I was almost roommates with one year in grad school.

He's had an interesting run of books since.
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Old 09-02-2003, 08:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Slugworth
Was Nosferatu the first vampire mythos to introduce the fact that sunlight was lethal?
Emphasis mine: You know something we don't?
Quote:
Originally posted by Nichol_storm
I think the Dracula movie with Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder was the only one that kept this fact instead of bowing to vampire convention.
The recent abomination League of Extraordinary Gentlemen also showed vampiress Mina walking about during the day.
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Old 09-03-2003, 07:14 AM
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Quote:
I don't think Stoker's Dracula was invisible in mirrors either.
Not only is Dracula not bisible in mirrors in Bram Stoker's novel (you'll notice that the scene with Harker not seeing Dracula in his shaving mirror shows up in just about every film), it seems that Stoker probably invented that bit of "folklore" himself. I don't recall it in any vampire fiction beforte Dracula. Also, see the relevant notes in Leonard Wolf's two annotated editions of Dracula -- The Annotated Dracula and The Essential Draclua.
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Old 09-04-2003, 11:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by slipster
The story is well-known of how Lord Byron attended dinner at the vacation home of Percy Shelley in Switzerland and, in a conversation after dinner, it was suggested that each of the people in attendance--Shelley, his wife Mary, her stepsister Claire Clairemont (spelling?) and Dr. John Polidori might try writing a ghost story. Later that night Mary Shelley awoke from a nightmare about a huge man with glowing yellow eyes, from which she took the inspiration for her novel Frankenstein: The New Prometheus.
For a fascinating alternate history of the Frankenstein incident and a thoroughly-researched reworking of the vampire mythos, check out Tim Powers' The Stress of Her Regard. This dense and "richly textured" (always wanted to use that phrase) novel joins the diverse mythos of lamia, the Nephilim of the Old Testament, vampires, demons, divine muses and succubi into a single consistent mythology.

As alterate history, the novel feels uncannily real in how it weaves its plot into historic incidents and turns everything on its head. For example, Lord Byron, with his good looks yet pale and brooding demeanor and ill health, was himself nicknamed "Lord Ruthven" and compared to a vampire at the time of Polidori's story (there's a nice couple of references to this in Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo), whose vampire was indeed based on Byron, and of course the novel has an explanation for this. And then there's the matter of the body being carried across the Alps in a box filled with ice.
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Old 09-05-2003, 11:42 AM
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Regarding the original post (is it permitted to actually answer the original post), the OED has the following to say on the etymology of "vampire":

Quote:
Magyar vampir, a word of Slavonic origin occurring in the same form in Russ., Pol., Czech, Serb., and Bulg., with such variants as Bulg. vapir, vepir, Ruthen. vepyr, vopyr, opyr, Russ. upir, upyr, Pol. upior; Miklosich suggests north Turkish uber (witch), as a possible source.
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Old 09-05-2003, 11:47 AM
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I'm going to commit another faux pas and address the original post. I found the following while banging around:

Quote:
Fortunately, Leonard Wolf, in his Annotated_Dracula (1975), identifies Stoker's source for the word (which Wolf glosses as Romanian - "not dead", pg. 193) as The Land Beyond the Forest by Emily Gerard (1888). From an excerpt in Wolf, this book appears to be a travel sketch in the classic Victorian manner dealing with Transylvania. Unfortunately, I have never found a copy, so this is as far as I have gotten along these lines. The above evidence however inclines me to doubt the accuracy of Gerard's observation.

At one point it was suggested by Carpathian native Triszna Leszczyc on alt.vampyres that "nosferat" may be a corruption or foreign misapprehension of a term "necurat" which is used as a euphemism when referring to the Devil or assorted other evil beings. I haven't looked into it deeply, but there could be something to this. I find it highly possible that it may have influenced the accounts of the "nosferat"/"nosferatu" dichotomy, even if it is not the ultimate source of "nosferatu
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Old 09-09-2003, 09:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Stryfe

As for the age of vampire legends I have read of roman vampires called lamia (lamiae ?) which are similar to modern vampires.
Greek, not Roman. "Lamia" is Greek. "Lamiae" is the plural form.

The similarities to the modern conception of vampires is not actually that great, although the lamiae were sometimes said to drink the blood of humans.

My lamia page:

http://www.geocities.com/yellowlamia/lamia.html
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Old 09-10-2003, 07:12 AM
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Lamia
[B]Greek, not Roman. "Lamia" is Greek. "Lamiae" is the plural form.

I see, thanks for the clarification, in future before I post I will check my facts.
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Old 09-11-2003, 06:29 AM
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If you can get hold of this book, it pretty much covers the lot: 'Children of the Night'(of Vampires and Vampirism) by Tony Thorne. ISBN:0-575-40272-5

Try searching on things like - Volkodlak, Vedomec, Vampir, Kudlak, Kresnik, Vlad Tepes(the Impaler), Strigon, Stryx, Nosferatu, Mara/Mora to get started.
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Old 09-11-2003, 06:33 AM
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If you can get hold of this book, it pretty much covers the lot: 'Children of the Night'(of Vampires and Vampirism) by Tony Thorne. ISBN:0-575-40272-5

Try searching on things like - Volkodlak, Vedomec, Vampir, Kudlak, Kresnik, Vlad Tepes(the Impaler), Strigon, Striges, Stryx, Nosferatu, Countess Bathory, Mara/Mora to get started.
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Old 09-11-2003, 07:08 AM
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Just found an ok site;

http://www.istrianet.org/istria/lege...ches-intro.htm
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Old 09-11-2003, 07:42 AM
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The most exhaustive info I've found is here:

http://www.altvampyres.net/newsgroup/faq/

Covers a wide range of questions about vampires.
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