The beautiful country of Greece is one of the great vampire countries, the home of many undead. Greece has an abundance of vampire lore and myths, all of which have been well documented throughout time.
Greek undead date all the way to the ancient world, with such wicked creatures as the lamia, empusa, ephialtae and the mormo. The return of the dead and blood played a big part is classical writings, like in the Iliad when Odysseus filled a pit with blood to empower the spirits of Hades and learn the future.
The Christian Greeks on the other hand retained the belief in the return of loved ones, revenants that weren’t feared and who were treated with respect. But in time, Slavic influence from the Balkans made their way over and with the Greek Orthodox Church altered the people’s view of the undead. Eventually people started to believe that demons and the undead were one in the same. The revenants were thought to be possessed by evil demons, and were to be feared.
Such corpses were known by many different names depending on which part of Greece you were in. On Crete, they were known as kathakanas, on the Greek archipelago they were known as vurvukalas or vrukokalas. Then on the Adriatic and Aegean coast they were called vrykolakas (the most common of Greek vampires, also known as vrykolokas). That named always referred to the undead that drank blood and did harm to humans. It was also the Slavic word for “werewolf” because it was believed that when a werewolf died it would return as a vampire.
In Greece there were many ways in which a person would return as a vampire after death (many of which came from the church), such as:
- Those who were stillborn would return as a vampire.
- People conceived or born on a Holy Day.
- Those that ate the flesh of an animal that wasn’t properly killed.
- People that didn’t receive a proper burial.
- Turks (who were hated by the Greeks).
- Those that died living sinful lives.
- Those that practiced witchcraft during life.
- Those under excommunication by the church.
- Those that had sex with animals.
- A corpse that had an animal jump over it before burial would return as a vampire.
- Those that died of the plague or some unknown disease.
- Being a prostitute or having sex with a foreigner.
- People that were unpleasant during life.
Yea, the old Greeks had a million and one ways a person could turn into a vampire. It was most definitely a country that believed fully in vampires, and lived in fear for it.