Emilio Mordini: “The people complicit in the restrictions”

Emilio Mordini: “The people complicit in the restrictions”
Emilio Mordini: “The people complicit in the restrictions”
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They are in everyone’s eyes and minds, from books to twentieth-century filmography, from the classic gothic literature “Dracula” by Bram Stoker to the film of the same name with Bela Lugosi from 1931 until the 1992 masterpiece by Francis Ford Coppola. The vampires we know, noble night figures thirsty for blood inspired by the story of the Romanian count Vlad Dracul bloodthirsty and impaler of Turks, they actually have roots that go back to the remote past of Europe, from Greece to Serbia, to Ireland and England.
Characterized by a constant binomial that crosses cultures and popular superstitions, that of the return to life of a dead body and haematophagia (the thirst for human blood), they have been a phenomenon of study over the centuries by historians and philosophers who have Vampirism traced back to much more remote times than those in which the gothic myth was born and developed which made it universally famous.

If the very first hints of nourishment with blood by supernatural beings can even be found in the Talmud where the name of Liliththe rebellious wife of Adam, was described as a vampire. Corresponding to the figure of the sacred Hebrew text the hermaphrodite monster My, a monstrous creature that would draw nourishment from the blood of children. And precisely in Greece there is traces of one of the popular traditions closest to the current figure of the vampire. The Brucolaco (in Greek Vrykolakas / βρυκόλακας) was the typical example of the undead or revived, later spread also in Puglia and Bulgaria. Shaped by ancestral fears on the theme of sin in life, the body of the Hellenic vampire refused burial and sought human blood as it was endowed with the properties necessary to revive the flesh, preferably sucked by a human being at an early age. It is precisely the theme of burial that is fundamental in classical Greek culture as a fundamental element for a passage to the afterlife. A lack of entombment due to various reasons including a dishonorable death in peace or in war was at the origins of the phenomenon of the undead in ancient Greece and the consequent punishment to which the body, in a harrowing search for eternal peace was subjected. Until the search for the blood and flesh of others. In the Iliad the first evidence of the correlation between the power of blood and the call of the shadows from beyond. Ulyssesto feed the shadow of the seer Tiresias, fills a tank with sheep’s blood so that it can communicate with him. The tradition of the Brucolaks, in the Balkan cultural osmosis, reached Serbia and Bulgaria, and then spread to most of Eastern Europe. Here, over the centuries, the tradition was created from which modern sources will draw inspiration for the masterpieces of Romantic-Gothic literature. In fact, some of the most famous Serbian caterpillars went down in the history of popular tradition well before Stoker’s Dracula. Sava Savanovic, a miller from a village in central Serbia who, returning from a death in mysterious circumstances, would have attracted his victims to the mill and then drink their blood. the returns of the undead, linked to violent deaths or due to unclear circumstances, were the basis of investigations that did nothing but fuel the legend. In fact, there are many reports in the Balkan countries from the Middle Ages onwards in which the phenomenon is mentioned, with the first appearance of the noun vampire perhaps derived from Bàm (a Manichean god who, transliterated, sounds Serbian and Greek as Vàm) added to the Russian word pirb (drinking, revelry) or from the Slav upirb afterwards upiri (in turn taken from the Latin impurus).
A second impulse to the tradition of vampirism occurred between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when the scientific spirit and in particular the evolution of studies in anatomy and physiology on post-mortem phenomena approached superstition and tradition. From the exhumations of corpses, cases of apparent death or physiological signs such as hypostatic spots or growth of hair and nails, as well as noises due to decomposition were noted for the first time. Linked to the signs and manifestations of the undead were also the great epidemics of the centuries At the base of the literary inspirations of the following century, in addition to the reports of pathology, there were also treatises and travel reports fundamental for the development of the vampire mythology, like the diary of the French botanist Jacques Pitton de Tournefort, Relation d’un voyage du Levant, Fait par Ordre du Roy of 1714. In the account of the Jesuit scientist a caterpillar of the island of Mykonos is described, violent and aggressive. A dead body returned to life with skin as tight and dry as that of a drum. But the piece that will become one of the recurring themes in the epic of the vampire contained between the lines written by the botanist is the strategy thanks to which the inhabitants of the Greek island were right of the monster thirsty for the blood of their children, that is, tearing their heart and subsequently covering the undead of holy water and then cremates the corpse. The next story, fictionalized by the gothic authors, will introduce the practice of the ash stake to stop the vampire’s heart and the crucifix to inhibit the demonic soul. A few years later, in Poland, a volume of natural history was published in which for the first time the term vampire (in Polish upier), reported from the memoirs of the Jesuit Don Gengell who, referring to the words of witnesses to the phenomenon, wrote:

“I have often heard from trusted eyewitnesses that the bodies have been found
not only intact, flexible and brightly colored for a long time, but that
even the head, mouth, tongue and eyes sometimes moved. The funeral sheet
that enveloped them was torn and parts of the body had been devoured. Sometimes yes
he also noticed that a body like this rose from the grave, wandered
through crossroads and houses, showing themselves now to some, now to others, and many too
attacked them, trying to suffocate them. If it is a male body, it is called
Upier. ”

The road to the myth of Vlad Dracula, of Nosferatu and of all the vampires that populated literature, cinema, theater, comics had been traced in many centuries of fear and suggestion that passed from popular tradition into the hands of the most refined. authors.

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To deepen the history and myth of vampirism between science and tradition, the reference book isVampires. A new story. from Nick Groom (The Assayer).


The article is in Italian

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