Vampirism And The Real Dracula. (Last Part)

As I commented in the previous article, the belief in vampires is more ancient that we could imagine. So we can find stories about vampires in the ancient Mesopotamia (Utuhu and Maskin, monstrous beings that brought diseases to the people).

In the Egyptian culture there was the deity Sekhmet (appears in the "Book of the Dead" many times). In India, there is Kali-Ma, who fed on blood. There are stories about vampires in the ancient Greece and Rome. In the Aztec culture, Civataeo fed on blood and brought the disease. There's even a vampire story in the "One Thousand and One Night".

So we can notice that the belief in vampires is really ancient and is present in all cultures.
Although vampirism may be surrounded by supernatural details, it may be based in something as real as two serious diseases: porphyria and rabies.

  • Rabies is transmitted by the bite of dogs, wolves, rats and bats. All those animals are associated with the vampires. It is said that vampires can shapeshift with bats and vice versa.

  • Rabies also causes a phobia for water. In the stories about vampires, they have a strong horror for holy water.

  • Rabies is contagious and is propagated by bites. In the myth of vampires, they turn normal people into vampires by biting them.

  • Rabies increments the sexual activity. The figure of a vampire is a seductive one too.

  • Rabies augments the aggressiveness, it may be the origin of the superhuman strength of vampires.

  • Rabies also distorts the sleep, and makes the diseased to sleep at day. This way, vampires have nocturnal habits.

Porphyria is another disease that can be related to vampirism.
  • Porphyria makes skin to turn red, to be covered by blisters and ulcers, and bleed, when being under the sunlight. The myth of vampires says that the sunlight harms them.

  • The ulcers in the face produce the loss of the lips, leaving the teeth visible. That way, the canine teeth seem more evident.

  • Sometimes the eyes and teeth get turn red. The nasal cartilage is lost, and the upper zone of the ears, so they become pointed. This may give a person the appearance of a vampire like in the movie "Nosferatu".

  • The lack of the red pigment of hemoglobin makes the skin pale.

  • Garlic was used from the antiquity in the natural medicine. There are some components in garlic that can harm the hemoglobin. The person diseased of porphyria may notice a worsening in his health, thus feel repugnance for garlic the next time. In the stories of vampires, people used garlic in the windows and doors of their houses to protect themselves against vampires.

  • To cure the porphyria, the ancients forced the diseased to drink blood of cows. As most of the hemoglobin was destroyed by the stomach, they had to drink a big amount of blood. Nowadays this diseased is treated with blood transfusions.

  • Porphyria is not contagious. But it's hereditary.
The stories of vampires were very present in literature. Stands out the french benedictine monk Agustin Camlet, Montague Summers, Lord Byron, Bram Stoker, Brian Lumney...

Vampires are depicted in the paintings as creatures of the darkness, gothic and sophisticated. Nowadays, vampires are the main theme of many artist. Amongst them, Victoria Frances and Luis Royo.

Although the conclusion is that vampirism was a real disease, and not a supernatural curse, it's even more terrifying. The myth goes out of the legend, and becomes part of our real life.
The people who had these diseased had to live with the superstitions and be discriminated by others.
They were not monsters, just ill people.

-Emma Alvarez-

© 2008 by Emma Alvarez. Link to this post without copying the text.

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Hi Emma,
Very interesting post. Didn't know about that disease until I read it here.
I love watching scary movies with vampires especially this time of the year.
Good post!

Emma Alvarez said...

I love scary movies too Chessnoid. And happy Halloween!!!

bloggo1 said...

Hi Emma

Your blog is very well researched and written. I like. Congratulations.

Di said...

I really enjoy reading you!

Linking your previous 2 posts: the name "Dracula" is derived from a secret fraternal order of knights called the Order of the Dragon.

Emma Alvarez said...

Thank you Bloggo!!!

Di, thank you for comment, yes I remmember reading, with you I remembered it.

Karmen_Kurai said...

Hi Emma, i'm 23 spanish girl and i've found your site looking for vampire pics. Good post; it's a different point of view.
I love vampirism, the vampires' melancholic simbolism and their erratic and bohemian lifes. uhmm... a bit strange but... hehe!

Thanks for sharing this post.

PD: I'm also a fan of Victoria Francés and Luis Royo ;)

See you.

Anonymous said...

My name Marlon,I'm from Indonesia..
I love scary movies,exspecially "DRACULA"
Emma,can I ask You something??
where I can find much about DRACULA??its DRACULA the real CREATURE??where I can Find??
anyway,thx before...
nice to know You... (^_^)

Emma Alvarez said...

Karmen, I hope that you come back soon :)

MArlon, have a look to this post, maybe you find what you search.

Unknown said...

Hello, I have found your blog, looking for blogs that they speak on the great vampire.
I am illustrative and support a blog for little, on which I am hanging published illustrations and the process to come to them.
The last one that I have hung is of Drácula, they entrusted me to illustrate a book of juvenile text.
I invite you to see the blog and to giving me your opinion. Thank you.

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