Monday, October 19, 2015

Vampires of Greece


Transylvania isn't the only place to have vampires. Greece has them as well. Several types, in fact.

Callicantzaros-
These are a peculiar type of Grecian vampire. Leo Allatius discussed them in his 1645 treatise, De Graecorum hodie quorundam opinationibus. These vampires are related to the sanctity ascribed to Christian holy days at Christmas time. It is said that any child born between Christmas and New Years (or Epiphany of Twelfth Night- the evening when the Three Wisemen supposedly arrive at Bethlehem with their gifts for Jesus) are considered unlucky. These children were said to be feast-blasted and believed to be fated to become vampires upon death. The callicantzaros is distinct among vampires because they are limited to being active for the twelve days between Christmas and Epiphany. The rest of the time, they are stuck in a vague kind of limbo. It can be recognized by its manic behavior and extended fingernails. This vampire would grab people with its talons and tear them to sheds. Based on the maturity level of the born in the unlucky days, the appearance of the callicantzaros varies. The children were treated with hostility, making it noticeable in everyday life. Their parents feared they would act out vampiric fantasies on their siblings. Upon death, the siblings are often bitten and devoured by the callicantzaros. In order to prevent their child from becoming a vampire, one parent would hold the infant feet down over a fire until the tonails were singed.

Empusa-
This is not a reanimated corpse, but a vampire spirit. Greek mythology says that she is a demigoddess that is often associated with Lamia and Mormo. Later, her role was reduced to a species of Hecate, called empuse or empusa. The empusae (plural for empusa) were sent bay Hecate to guard roads and eat travelers. She would feast on the blood of young men as they slept, but she would devour their flesh before drinking their blood. She is pictured wearing brazen slippers and has flaming hair. Empusai and Mormolykiai are vampires that originated from the myths and stories of Empusa.

Eretica-
This is a Greek vampire, though some say it is Russian. When we look at the Greek myth, Eretica is associated with Hecate. They are deamons that can appear human. However, the Russian myth says that heretics are punished by members of he undead after death. Sorcerers and witches are just some of the types of people to turn into vampires after death. Also, those who don't confess their sins before death became Eretica. Fear of being a bad Christian feed the belief of this vampire. It was often believed to be a woman who sold her soul to the devil in life, thus becoming an old woman in rags in death. At night in the spring and late fall, Eretica gather together to perform a sabbot. To kill them, the body would have to be burned or staked with an aspen stake.

Lamia-
She was a Lybian queen and child of Poseidon and Lybie. She was one of Zeus' lovers. When Hera became jealous of him showering attention on Lamia, she took the Queen's children, all of whom were gathered by Zues. The Goddess then cursed Lamia with the inability to close her eyes so that she would constantly see the images of her dead offspring. The disgraced Queen retired to a cave and took her anger out on the children of mortal mothers by draining them of their blood. She then became a hideous monster and became the one blamed for a child's death. Beasts that came after her had her name for their classification. They were deformed humans, often with the lower half being serpentine, though they could have two feet, one being brass and the other that of an animal, often a goat, donkey, or ox.

Lamiai-
Named after Lamia. They are demonic beings who suck the blood of young children, though they can transform into a beautiful maiden for the soul purpose of seducing young men. These vampires live in cave's and damp places. They avoid extreme temperatures, dry places, or extremely wet places. They prefer warm and damp places, especially in their half-snake form. Stories say that these vampires on a four month cycle, shedding their skin from the stomach down every four months. She also alternates between a female body and serpent body every four months. Waist up, she is always a woman, but she will have a Jacobson' organ and a forked tongue. She can't close her eyes, like Lamia. They have immovable eyelids. They prey on mortal humans, preferring children.

Mormo-
This vampire is said to be a servant of Hecate. She is said to be a terrible denizen of the underworld. She is a spirit who primarily attacks children. Nurses told children Mormo stories to keep them in check.

Vrykolakas-
The is the true Greek vampire. It is believed that a person could become a vrykolakas by living an immortal life, being excommunicated, died a violent death, buried without proper church rites, or being buried in unconsecrated ground. You could also become a vampire if you eat a sheep the had been injured by a wolf. There are several stories about vrykolakas. One of the oldest coming from Pitton de Tournefont, a french botonist. While in Mykonos in 1700, he learned of a dead man who was walking around and making a nuisance of himself. Various remedies were tried, all of them failed. They even took out his heart and other organs and buried them nine days later with no luck. The troubles stopped in 1701, when the body was fully consumed in flames. It was believed that vrykolakas would knock on a person's door and call the names of everyone inside. If no one answered the door, the vampire would move on and no one would be harmed. However, the person who answers the door would be attacked and turned into a vrykalokas. The creature becomes stronger when left alone, but they still have to return to their grave fo rest. When asleep, the townspeople would exhume the body. They would behead it, impale it, and cremate it as soon as possible to keep everyone from being fed upon. When it was thought someone was to become a vampire, they were buried upside down so that thy would dig farther into the ground, about out. A stake may also be secured above the corpse to that it would impale itself if it attempted to rise.

Vrykolatios-
This vampire's home is the Island of Santorini just off the coast of Greece. This is said to be the most vampire infested island. The Vrykolatios is described as a fiend that feasts off of the living.

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