Vampires! Along with witches, ghosts, and Frankenstein's monster, the Vampire is still one of the most popular Halloween creatures. In celebration of this spooky holiday, I present a vampire monster to include with your games. In many ways, this is a prototype monster for a future campaign I am developing centered on Nosferatu.
History of the Vampire
The history of vampires (in fiction) dates back to antiquity. In Greek myth, the story of Orpheus and Eurydice takes the oldest known form of vampire lore. The Greeks and Romans believed that the mortals who drank the blood of supernatural beings, usually the old, sick, or dying, could acquire vampiric powers, such as eternal youth.
The mythology of the Greek god Hermes, who represents wisdom and courage, is particularly informative about this mythology. Hermes is the god of learning, knowledge, and mystical vision. He is depicted as a walking vampire wearing a crown of thorns.
Perhaps the earliest known vampire, mythical or otherwise, was Emperor Tethys. He turned himself into a bat when he was told that his beloved wife would be sacrificed to the gods. Hermes transformed Tethys into a bat when he had the chance to be with his wife, Eurydice, who had been turned into a cat by Hera.
In Latin and later English, vampires can be found. However, tracing their use as mythological figures to a precise origin takes time and effort. What does seem clear, however, is that the invention of vampire mythology is an important event in the history of vampires. In many ways, modern vampires are the reverse of the god Hermes. Instead of becoming gods, modern vampires continue to exist as mere mortals who are gifted with a mystical sense of immortality.
Vampire mythology has grown in the centuries since Hermes killed himself to be with Eurydice. Not surprisingly, Christianity has made vampire legends the most significant today. The name "Vampire" comes from the Roman god of the sun, whose name is connected with the word "vamortis" (from which is derived the word vampire).
As you can imagine, this story has caused much confusion in the Christian world. Unfortunately, many modern vampire stories are based on reports of Christians who have become vampires.
The most famous Christian vampire story is that of Saint Anthony of Padua. In addition to being one of the most famous saints in the Catholic Church, Saint Anthony is also the one with the most fantastic vampire mythology. Saint Anthony lived in the late fourth century in the ancient city of Padua.
In the story of Saint Anthony, the vampire is a ten-year-old girl. The young girl was betrothed to a man by her father. The father wanted the girl to be a virgin to increase her chances of being taken as an enslaved person by a wealthy person. Her parents forced her to dig a hole in the ground to fill it with water. In the process, the girl fell into a deep depression and could hardly ever move from her bed.
As Saint Anthony arrived at Padua, he observed the young girl crying in her bed. Saint Anthony had an overwhelming urge to heal the girl, but as he approached her, the girl tried to run away from him. As she was about to run off, Saint Anthony had the urge to drink the girl's blood and turn her into a vampire. The poor girl begged Saint Anthony not to drink her blood, and Saint Anthony was so impressed with her that he pretended to follow her for several hours.
One of Saint Anthony's followers overheard their conversation and noted that Saint Anthony had told the girl to drink her blood so he would become a vampire. It is yet to be discovered if Saint Anthony was a real vampire or if it was simply an act to get closer to the girl since he wanted to marry her.
Some people believe that Saint Anthony survived drinking the girl's blood and was able to transform back into a human being. However, it's much more likely that Saint Anthony died in that pit he dug to cure the girl's depression.
Saint Anthony's story was one of Christianity's first stories combined with pagan mythology. In modern times, vampire legends have grown in great leaps and bounds as they mix with fairy tales and fiction.
One exciting and unusual belief connected to Saint Anthony's legend is that of the virgin or virgin bride. Although it is impossible to kill a virgin, a virgin's blood is enough to turn a person into a vampire.
In modern times, Saint Anthony's legend is still prevalent in Italy, particularly in the southern regions. For some strange reason, vampires tend to occur in south Italy at times when Saint Anthony's feast day falls during the winter season. Perhaps the townspeople hold that Saint Anthony was a vampire because he was in Italy, or maybe they believe the connection between the two events is merely a coincidence.