The History of Vampires

Alright, so I was bored at work today and I stumbled upon this site. In any event, I found myself asking several questions and I don’t necessarily think that the people on that board would be too great at answering them. Naturally since the SDMB is a knowledge emporium I come here.

In any event, what is the history of Vampires? I know a little bit about them, I’m an avid Buffy/Angel fan and I’ve read some Anne Rice, but other than that I’m stumped. I’m curious as to why people would be calling themselves “vampires” when they obviously aren’t. They aren’t dead for one thing, not to mention the obvious fact that vampires don’t exist.

I did want to mention that if anyone is going to sign up for that MB, please don’t flame and be rude-while I think a lot of the members on that MB potentially need some sort of treatment I don’t think it would help matters to flame them.

In any event, what’s the scoop on Vampires?

I mention the above only because I had shown a couple people the MB and their reactions were to suggest flaming the site. I don’t want to imply that anyone on the SD would do such a thing.

Read “Vampires, Burial and Death” by Paul Barber for the Straight Dope on vampires.

Interesting question Meats. Vampires have been in human folklore for a very ong time (I was one of those kids that woud take out the crappy “History of Vampire” books from the library and then not sleep for days. There are versions that go back thousands of years – although they are a far cry from the Buffy vamps.

They range from run-of-the-mill cannibalism legends to “fountain of youth via human blood” legends. Sometimes they get conflated with werewolf lore.

As far as the website you linked to… well, I can show you one for people who think they are dragons. Some people just passionatley identify with an archetype or character and then there ya go – a whole Internet community is born.

But anyway… The most popular version (the Dracula or Buffy-ish version) is mostly from the Slavic folklore version. Often it’s mixed in with the folklore of wichcraft.

There are Ancient Grrek versions, Mayan and Aztec versions, Japansese versions and Native American versions. To get a good overview, you really will have to get a good book as Hazel suggested. It’s a BIG topic.

Fascinating one though.

If you’re a scholarly sort, start with the Rev. Montague Summers (no relation) and work your way up to present day. If, that is, you’re looking into the vampire from a folklore perspective.

If you’re looking into the psychological an sociological factors that would cause someone to decide that they’re a vampire and “come out of the coffin” as it were, then the only place I could direct you to… seems to have disappeared from the internet. Note to self, do searches before posting.

I have to second the above books – I especially like Barber’s book.

Bear in mind that an awful lot of “ancient” vampire folklore is surprisingly recent. Virtually all of what we think of as cananical vampire lore started after 1800, and a good chunk of it was invented by Bram Stoker himself. Before him, you never had vampires not casting reflections in mirrors, or having to sleep in coffins of their native soil, or being repelled by garlic (I think he’s responsible for their fear of the crucifix, too), or turning into a bat. The idea that vampires dissolve under sunlight is even more recent (Dracula walks around in full daylight in Stoker’s book), first appearing in the movie “Nosferatu” (probably because it was such a good effect). The vampire’s evening cape came about because of the staging of the play “Dracula”.

See Leonard Wolf’s “The Annotated Dracula” and “The Essential Dracula”.

David Skal’s “Hollywood Gothic” is the definitive history of Dracula on stage and screen. See also his books “The Monster Show” and “V is for Vampire” (A vampire dictionary).

On the historical Dracula (Vlad Tepes), see MacNally and Radu Florescu’s “In Search of Dracula”

Please do. I think the “vampire” delusionals are funny enough, this should have me rolling.

Oh come on now! You can’t give me that crum (the dragons) and not provide a link!:wink: :smiley:

It does seem to be a bigger topic than I thought. The way I figured it, there was a clear-cut history to Vampires. That coupled with peoples active imagination. In other words I figured their was one underlying myth that a lot of authors and people twisted/changed to fit their stories…

What? All these posts and no one’s quoted Cecil? I’ll rectify that.



I’ll put this on my amazon list. I’m guessing it’s comprehensive, right?

The Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency has a lot of good information too.

Slight nitpick. Many vampire legends follow the fact that the vampire could turn into any number of animals, including insects, snakes, vermine, etc. In attempts to burn a vampire, it would turn into swarms of these animals, and if a single one of them got away, it could regenerate the vampire later on down the road. Of course, that’s only a belief in one area, but still, their ability to turn into various animals isn’t strictly Stoker.

Also, many original vampire beliefs focused on the stealing of youth, not blood. A vampire would suck the youth and vigor out of a person, leaving them cranky, tired, sickly, and often even lead to premature aging.

Many vampire beliefs, and subsuquent “practices to fight vampires” comes from improper burial procedures. Many a time, a coffin would be dug up, and the townsfolk would find the inside of the coffin covered in claw marks and fresh blood in the body…that’s because the person wasn’t dead when they were put in the ground. The purpose of staking a vampire wasn’t to kill it, it was mearly to keep it pined to the ground so it couldn’t get away. This also lead to the practice of burying people upside down in some places. That way, if the person did rise as a vampire and tried to claw their way out, they would just keep digging deeper and deeper into the ground. (yeah, like Eats_Crayons, I too read every book on vampires in my school library; never read any Anne Rice, though…the mythology and history of them intrigues me much more).

Never said it was – but Stoker definitely invented the vampire + bats, as I noted. He explicitly brings up the South American vampire bat twice in his book, showing where he got the idea.

Harli cracks open her skull so that Meatros can take a glimpse into her brain

Wow, history of vampires…That’s my bag, baby :smiley:
What others have suggested is good, definitely. There is just soooo much behind the “history” and “legend” of vampires that it couldn’t really all be answered in one message board response.
There are so many different theories and schools of thought on the matter, and IMO, none of them are necessarily 100% accurate. Just read everything! Heh.

My main personal interest in vampires is a literary one. I am fascinated by the development of the vampire in literature throughout history. And also by the historical figures that many of the legends are inspired by (especially Elizabeth Bathory).

As for people who think they are vampires…I don’t know. I used to talk with a group of them in a chat room, and I just figured they were delusional, but not hurting anyone for the most part. And yet there were some that made convincing cases about requiring sustenance, but never admitted they were immortal.

Heh, I could probably write an entire novel on vampire folklore, legends, beliefs, theories, and histories. But I won’t. I leave you with the above.

Since Eats_Crayons is apparently busy having a life, those of you who are looking for the dragon people can probably satisfy your prurient interests by typing “otherkin” into Google. Have fun.

Second on the McNalley and Florescu cite above, too.

AHhhh!!! Otherkin !
I’d forgotten about them!:smiley:

Anyone fans of Vampire: the Masquerade LARP or Changeling?