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How the vampire myth was born

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Vampires are a common image in today’s pop culture and take many forms. From Alucard, Dracula’s dashing spawn in the PlayStation game “Akumajo Dracula: Symphony of the Night”. To Edward, the romantic and idealistic lover of the “Twilight” series.

In many respects, today’s vampires are far from the roots of Eastern European folklore. NS Professor of Slavic Studies The person who taught the vampire course Called “Dracula” For over a decade, I’ve always been fascinated by the popularity of vampires, given the origins of vampires. disease..

Explain the unknown

The first known references to vampires appeared in Old East Slavic. With AD1047, Immediately after Orthodox Christianity moved to Eastern Europe. The vampire term is “upirThe origin of “,” is unknown, but its literal meaning is “a feast or sacrifice,” referring to a potentially dangerous spiritual entity that people believed could appear in rituals of the dead. increase. This is a euphemism, the name of a creature — and unfortunately, historians may never know its real name, or even when beliefs about it surface.

Vampires performed a similar function Many other demon creatures In folklore around the world: they were blamed on various problems, especially illnesses, in a time when knowledge of bacteria and viruses did not exist.

Scholars have published several theories about the relationship between various illnesses and vampires. Beliefs about vampires have changed over time, so there may be no illness that provides a simple “pure” origin in vampire mythology.

But especially two show solid links. One is rabies, whose name means “madness” in Latin.this is One of the oldest recognized diseases on earthIt is transmitted from animals to humans and spreads mainly by chewing. This is a clear reference to the characteristics of classic vampires.

There are other strange connections. One of the central symptoms of this disease is rabies. Fear of water.. Painful muscle contractions in the esophagus prevent rabies victims from eating or even swallowing saliva, ultimately causing “foaming in the mouth.” In some folklore, vampires cannot cross running water unless they are carried or assisted in some way as an extension of this condition. In addition, rabies can lead to fear of light, altered sleep patterns, and increased aggression. This is an element of how vampires are described. Various folk tales..

Second illness It ’s pellagra., Niacin (vitamin B3) or the amino acid tryptophan is caused by a dietary deficiency. Pellagra is often brought about by corn products and an alcohol-rich diet. After the Europeans landed in the Americas, they shipped corn to Europe.But they ignored An important step in preparing corn: Wash it, often use lime-a process called “Nixtamalization” that can reduce the risk of pellagra.

Pellagra is a classic “4 D“: Dermatitis, diarrhea, dementia, and death. Some patients also experience high sensitivity to sunlight, as described in some depictions of vampires, which causes corpse-like skin. be connected.

Social fear

Although multiple illnesses have been linked to folklore about vampires, they cannot always explain how the myth actually began.For example, pellagra did not exist in Eastern Europe Until the 18th centuryCenturies after the vampire belief first appeared.

However, both pellagra and rabies are important because they were prevalent at an important time in vampire history.So-called medium Big vampire epidemicFrom about 1725 to 1755, the vampire myth became “viral” throughout the continent.

As the disease spread to Eastern Europe, supernatural causes were often blamed and vampire hysteria spread throughout the region. Many believed that vampires were “undead,” that is, those who lived somehow after death, and that attacking their corpses could stop them. They are”Vampire burialThis could include stakes in the corpse, covering the body with garlic, and various other traditions that have existed in Slavic folklore for centuries.

Meanwhile, Austrian and German soldiers fighting the Ottoman Empire in the region witnessed the masses. Tomb blasphemy Then he returned to Western Europe with the story of a vampire.

But why did so much vampire Does hysteria spring up in the first place? Illness was the main cause, but there was a kind of “worst situation” in Eastern Europe at that time. The era of vampire pandemics was not just a time of illness, but a time of political and religious upheaval.

In the 18th century, Eastern Europe faced internal and external pressure. Internal and external forces dominated the region, often oppressing local culture.For example, Serbia Struggling between the Habsburgs of Central Europe and the Ottoman Empire..Poland is increasingly under foreign power, Bulgaria is under the control of the Ottoman Empire, Russia Dramatic cultural change It is due to the policy of Peter the Great.

This is somewhat similar to today as the world is fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in political change and uncertainty. Perceived societal collapse, whether real or imaginary, can have dramatic reactions to society.


The vampire myth has its roots in a real blood dyscrasia


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