Are you an Edward Cullen fan? Well, then have a look his family tree and relatives. The only difference between the Cullens and their relatives is that the Cullens are nice people, but their relatives and ancestors, are oh boy, frightening. Evil villains have been an important aspect all folklore, classic books and epic cinema.
Mesopotamian Vampire Legends and Myths
The oldest among the ancient vampire legends are the Mesopotamian blood drinking demons. Excavated evidence in the form of pottery shards which was carved to tell the tales of vampires suggest the existence of a cannibal and blood drinking vampire demon, Lilith or Lilitu. Persian, ancient Babylonian and Hebrew and Jewish tales of Lilith indicate that she was initially the first wife of Adam who left him to become a demon leader. According to ancient folklore she subsisted on the blood of newborns and their mothers. Some vampire stories describe her to be a winged and bird footed maiden, while in some cases she is described to be very beautiful maiden. Sumerian vampire legends and stories cite a reference to a similar vampire devil by the name of Gallu.
Later Mesopotamian tales are of a new version of Lilith known as Lamashtu a malevolent goddess or a demigod. Incidentally these old vampire legends from around the world that come from the prehistoric times are centered around vampires whose victims were babies or really young children who did not sleep at night. It must be noted that Lilith has also been mentioned in the dead sea scrolls. The mythology of Lilith is often associated with the fact that many newborns whose birth time was at night had a different sleep cycle as they slept during the day and stayed awake at night. The vampire folklore probably came into being as a result of the abnormal sleep cycle.
Greek and Roman Vampire Legends and Stories
The Greek and Roman mythology are interrelated due to the historical association of the two nations. Empusa was a demigoddess in Greek mythology who was a vampire. She is a said to have seduced men and then feasted on their blood. Some cases a class of demons, who possessed same features as her appeared in the Greek mythology with the name, Empuse. One comical depiction of he name (Empusa: one-footed one), that the Greeks came up with was that Empusa having one bronze leg and another leg of a donkey. The victim's suffering is often associated with sleep paralysis.
Lamia was another Greek vampire. She was associated with extramarital affairs as she and Zeus were often termed to be lovers. Upon discovery her children were killed by Hera (wife of Zeus), which drove Lamia to insanity and rid her of the ability to sleep. Different tales of Lamia were also used by mothers and nannies to scare children into good behavior. Lamia is also a symbol of threat to marriage and the institution of family. Lamia was always associated with snakes and serpents and pictorial depictions show her draped in the skin of snakes and carrying a pet one. Some mythologists suggest that she was the daughter of King Belus of Egypt.
Strix, an ancient Roman bird is also said to be a vampire. Strix is an owl like bird who unlike other Vampires is not an undead, but is merely a shape shifter. Strix is a medieval character and is depicted in several tales where he is said to have attacked a baby prince, given his feathers as ingredients of love potion. Vampire stories of Strix were popular among Romanian people, Albanians and Polish, tough his name was different in almost every language. Some ancient historians suggest the early biologists also deemed Strix to be a vampire bat the flying mammal. Apart from the owl, the bat were the only flying 'birds' who hunted at night and had a weird appearance and cry, which led people to believe that it was a vampire.
The Later Era
Vampire mythology around the world has always been associated with unknown, unexplained and unacceptable themes. Leukoderma, lepers, skin cancer patients, albinism patients, viral fever patients and in some cases even cancer patients were associated and alleged to be vampires. In addition, prostitutes, people having extramarital affairs and people who were too liberal about their social behavior were also associated with vampires. This may also given birth to the term 'Vamp'.
From 12th century to 18th century, Habsburg Monarchy was distressed with vampire fever. Unexplained illnesses, grave robbing well planned crimes led to the belief that vampires really existed. Lack of medical knowledge, which led to untimely and unanticipated deaths of perfectly normal and healthy individuals was suddenly a vampire attack. Empress Maria Theresa of Austria assigned her physician, Gerhard van Swieten to investigate these cases. Dr Swieten was able to provide practical explanations to the mysterious occurrences. Slavic, Serbian and Russian folklore in the many rural areas also arose form such untimely deaths. Morana and Kuzlac of Croatia were two vampires of the era. Similarly Romania has its own two vampires Moroi (nightmare) and Strigoi. Romani people also had their own vampires known as Mullo and their children Dhampirs.
Bram Stoker's Dracula is often associated with Transylvanian ruler, Vlad the Impaler who was known for his ruthless killings. Similarly, more recent stories (well as few centuries old say 1st AD), accuse Judas Iscariot to be the first real vampire. Some scholars have also accused Hindu Goddess Durga to be a vampire as she drunk the blood of one demon to destroy him (the demon would multiply which each of his own blood drop). Vampire legends form around the world are common, endless, and well, as prevalent as evil itself. It must be noted that all evil is said to symbolically represented by vampires, well not the Cullens. They are present in vampire romance novels and best vampire movies. After all, not all vampires are evil.