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Summary Article: Vampires
From Encyclopedia of Time: Science, Philosophy, Theology, & Culture

In contemporary popular culture, vampires are fictitious immortal creatures of the night who sustain themselves by drinking the blood of the living. These undead creatures might be the unsettled souls of criminals or suicide victims. They may have been victims of other vampires, as those who are attacked by vampires are fated to become vampires themselves.

By convention, vampires are often depicted as aristocratic; male vampires are tall, handsome, and dressed in a black cape draped over formal attire. Women vampires are most often subordinate to male vampires, and they may be called brides or sisters of the patriarchal vampire. Regardless of the gender, male and female vampires have compelling seductive power over their victims. Modern vampires have a hypnotic stare that captivates the victim. Their canine teeth become prominent and their eyes turn blood red as they prepare or are compelled to feed. The teeth are used to penetrate the flesh of a victim's neck, from which the blood is then drawn.

Vampires have no shadows, and cannot cast a reflection in any mirror or reflective surface. They walk most often in the cover of darkness but can walk about in daylight. They sleep in unhallowed ground or in earth that is taken from their native lands. They are immortal, unaffected by mortal wounds, disease, or old age.

Repelling a vampire is difficult, but they are uncomfortable with garlic and religious icons. Their ability to withstand these items strengthens, however, as they age. That is to say, a new vampire is more susceptible to suffering ill effects from being in contact with holy water and is repelled by a crucifix, a consecrated communion host, or other religious icon. Vampires can travel as mist or fog. They must be invited to enter a home where they seek to take a victim; they cannot enter except by invitation.

Vampires such as the notorious Count Dracula, created by Bram Stoker in 1897, are believed to be almost invincible. They can easily move in daylight, but with diminished powers. They control and transform into beasts such as wolves and bats. They can control the minds of even the strongest character, and enslave them into their power. Stoker's vampire is based on the historic 15th-century Prince Vlad Tepes (the Impaler) of Wallachia and other long-standing folklore legends.

In vampire folklore, it was commonly believed that vampires could come from those born between Christmas and the Epiphany. If one was the seventh son of the seventh son, or was born with a harelip or with teeth, vampirism was suspected. Evidence that the mania spread is revealed by the exhumation of graves 3 or more years after the death of a child. Most believed the vampire treatise: Vampires need not feed every night; victims might linger for days before death; and that in death they become the undead.

According to legend, vampire hunters would cut off the creature's head, fill its mouth with garlic, drive a wooden stake through its heart, and cut out the heart and burn it. When the evil vampire is killed, all evil that it created also dies.

See also

Devils (Demons), Dracula, Legend of, Evil and Time, Immortality, Personal, Satan and Time

  • Melton, J. G. ( (1998).). The vampire gallery: A who's who of the undead. Detroit, MI: Visible Ink.
  • Stoker, B. ( (1897).). Dracula. New York: Modern Library.
  • Twitchell, J. ( (1985).). The rise and fall of Dracula. In Dreadful pleasures: An anatomy of modern horror (pp. 105-159). New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Lucas, Debra
    Copyright © 2009 by SAGE Publications, Inc.

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