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Ancient Beliefs of Vampires , Greek & Roman

Whether in ancient Greek or Roman myths, creatures with vampiric characteristics have found their way into folklore, legends, and the tales that have been passed down through the generations. In this article, you will learn a couple of instances concerning Roman and Greek interpretations of blood drinking and sucking the blood of victims.

Empusae , Greek Mythology

If you displayed the traits of a witch, then you may have been called Empusae, which refers to the demigoddess of Greek mythology. In later times, she transformed into a species of monsters led by Hecate , who was quite popular during early Mycenaean Greek days. Hecate was Empusa’s mother. The goddess has a reputation of drinking the blood of men that she had seduced. Her trickery included turning herself into a young woman and then waiting for the man to fall asleep before she feasted on their blood.

Empusa is often linked to or grouped with demigoddesses Lamia and Mormo, who later became known as a species of demon dwelling in the underworld. Over time, mythology would call these demons , lamias and mormolyceas.

Lamia , Greek Mythology

While she started off as a Queen of Libya, Lamia soon evolved in Greek mythology into a demon with an appetite for taking the lives of children. Lamia’s tale follows in line with the many Greco-Roman myths of her time that involved monsters of the female gender (like empusae and the mormolyces). Instead of being a full woman, Lamia is often described as half woman and half serpent. Her name comes from the Greek word for ‘gullet’ , which was given to her since she would kill human children.

The daughter of Poseidon (the god of water) and Lybie, Lamia was seen as the personification of Libya the country. The almighty Zeus had a soft spot for Lamia and because of this, when a jealous Hera found out about their love affair, she stole Lamia’s children away from her. This caused Lamia to tailspin into a deep depression, where she became a monster that took to murdering children.

Along the way, Zeus granted Lamia with the power to tell the future. It was his way of trying to smooth over the loss of her children. It is not unknown what exactly caused Lamia to turn into a monster. Most people would like to think that it was the loss of her children, while others believe Hera turned her into one. Nonetheless, Lamia would wait for young children to fall asleep in their beds and then suck their blood.

The Striges , Roman Mythology

Feeding on the blood of children, the striges also had young men in their sights when it came to searching for a feast. Also referred to as a strix or strixes, ancient Romans told legends about a creature that was seen as a nocturnal sort of bird that brought about bad luck and had a taste for feeding on the flesh and blood of humans , much like the vampire. A big difference between the striges and vampires was that they were not the product of something that had once been dead and had risen, but was actually something that evolved into an owl-like creature.