A Possible Origin Of The Vampire Myth


Vampire mythology goes back to at least the 12th century (Serbia), according to what written records have survived. It’s likely that verbal versions of the legend extend much farther back. What could the origin be?
 
In the middle ages, vampirism, witchcraft, and other tales were believed to be the explanation for plagues. One person would get sick and die, and their “curse” would kill their families and friends. However, this was not the origin of the vampire myth.
 
Before that, there were legends of people who would feed on the flesh and blood of others. These were referred to as vampires (by various names), and many myths were created around them. I wonder if this is the true origin of the vampire myth.
 
In more primitive times, when food was scarce, one survival strategy would have been to find people who were surviving and use them as a supplemental (or sole) source of nourishment. Agronomistic societies–those who farm and organize into settlements/towns/cities–would have been likely targets. A human predator would have used the blackness of night to stumble into town, find a victim, kill them, and–wasting nothing, including blood–get what nourishment they could. Sometimes, another person would have interrupted the act and found the predator first drinking blood from the dying victim, either as a meal in itself, or as a precursor for further predation.
 
In ancient legends, vampires were commonly female. A woman who was alone and not part of a settlement, at a time when physical strength was paramount to individual survival would have been at particular risk of starvation, and more likely to attempt such a desperate act. Since such a person would likely not be able to overpower a healthier, better-fed man in a fight, seduction would have been a primary means of initially pacifying a potential victim.
 
A person who fed in such a fashion would be sickly, as there are not only pathogens to be contracted via the consumption of human flesh; but someone who subsists largely on a diet of probably-skinny humans will become severely malnourished, in time, as a result of protein poisoning. A sickly pallor, a slow heart rate, and other symptoms would have given rise to the classical appearance of vampires.
 
I submit that the origin of the vampire myth is cannibalism, primarily as a result of food scarcity.
 
 
Advertisements

Proverbs That Last Forever


“However, a much older Near Eastern origin is suggested by a near equivalent in the 6th century BC Proverbs of Ahiqar: ‘a sparrow in thy hand is better than a thousand sparrows flying’.”

I love finding proverbs that have somehow survived 25 centuries of linguistic translations and societal changes. Such proverbs are almost certainly somewhat accurate (in the right context), because the only way people would keep saying them for 2,500 years is if they feel like they have a decent reason to do so, themselves, and to teach their children to say them, too.

Interestingly, it’s possible that personal adherence to old texts of philosophy, poetry, mythology, scripture, and fable–stems from the same phenomena; and that, therefore, religion, philosophy, ethics, and more are a result of old thoughts being consistently seen as worthwhile enough to repeat and teach future generations to repeat.
The historic use of force to enforce adherence to ideas skews this effect, somewhat. This includes classic examples of European churches imposing laws and punishments, as well as popular non-religious philosophies making law with legislation and court cases (incl. case law), and punishing those who violate those laws. It can’t really be argued that the modern law and punishment is as brutal or authoritarian as ancient law and punishment; but when an armed person can come to your home and put you in shackles (handcuffs) for not obeying, one can neither argue that this isn’t the use of force. Sure, the methods are different, but disobeying gets you punished.
How do we decide whether and when old ideas are more/less valuable to us than new ideas? How effective have those uses of force been in making a given idea persist? Does an idea that has been appreciated (even/especially out of pure expediency) for 2.5 millennia have more (objective) believability than an idea that’s been around for 50 years? Each person chooses how to weigh these and other factors to create a personal philosophy. Then, they explain their philosophies to their children using proverbs.