History of the real Vampire Hunters

Der New Scientist hat einen superinteressanten Artikel über die Geschichte des Vampirglaubens, der bis ins 12. Jahrhundert zurückreicht und seinen Ursprung in dem Aberglauben an Ghuls (Leichenfresser) hat. Leider ist der Artikel nur gegen Anmeldung zu lesen, was sich allerdings für jeden lohnt, der sich für das Thema interessiert. Außerdem habe ich die vier Seiten aus der Printausgabe bei Flickr hochgeladen: True blood: The real vampire slayers.

THE stories must have sent a chill through Paris’s elegant society. Beginning in March 1693, a genteel literary journal called Mercure Galant published a series of macabre articles documenting a plague of undead corpses in Poland and Russia. “This reviving being… comes out of his grave, or a demon in his likeness, [and] goes by night to embrace his near relations or his friends,” Pierre Des Noyers, a scholar and former secretary to Queen Marie-Louise of Poland, reported in their May issue. It then “sucks their blood so much as to weaken and attenuate them, and at last cause their death”.

The only solution was to behead the corpse and drive a stake through its heart, Des Noyers wrote. These creatures, so filled with stolen blood that it poured out of their ears and eyes, went by a name that sounds strangely familiar today: oupires. […]

Vampire-like phenomena were already deeply embedded in folklore by the time of the Mercure Galant stories. […] The creatures portrayed in these early reports weren’t yet the bloodsuckers of Des Noyers’s article, though. The blood around the corpse’s lips was instead believed to be a consequence of their tendency to feed on bodies in the neighbouring graves. Terrified locals sometimes took drastic action to quell this habit; recent excavations near Venice, Italy, found a 16th-century female corpse with a brick jammed between her teeth, apparently to prevent her from snacking on neighbours. When it came to their living victims, however, these creatures were thought to be more likely to hit people than to bite them.

Even the later reports, beginning with the Mercure Galant stories, describe very different creatures from the glamorous vampires that grace modern films. For one thing, they weren’t mysterious nobility like Dracula, but an undead version of the fellow down the block you never got on with. They could also enjoy the midday sun without turning into ash, and, in a blow to their modern reputation as meticulous preeners, they smelled awful.

True blood: The real vampire slayers