The Dissertatio de Vampyris
The Dissertatio de Vampyris (also known as Dissertatio de Vampiris) is a pseudoscientific treatise (a formal and systematic explanation in writing of the beliefs of a subject, generally longer and more detailed than an essay) written by Johann Heinrich Zopfius and Francus von Dalen on Serbian vampires. Written in a time when the fear of vampires plagued the minds everyone, this was one of the more popular and authoritative treatises on the undead of the eighteenth century. Translated as Dissertation on the Vampire and published in 1733, it is best known for containing this famous declaration:
“The vampires, which issue forth from their graves at night, rush upon people sleeping in their beds, suck their blood and destroy them. They attack men, women and children, sparing neither age nor sex. People attacked by them complain of suffocation and a great interception of spirits; after which they soon die… Those who are killed by them, after death, become vampires…”
There were countless treatises written about vampires during this time, and they are always fascinating to me, mainly because these are the actual beliefs of people from the time. That means that in the 1700s real people genuinely thought that the dead left their graves at night to feed upon the blood of sleeping victims. It’s incredible to learn today what so many believed in the past. I swear, if someone were to collect the many treatises written on the undead and published them together in one book I would buy it in a heartbeat. It would be history geek heaven! But alas, no one has done this.
What do you guys think of these old vampire treatises? Do you find them as fascinating as I do, being able to view a glimpse into the past? Or do they simply bore you? Let me know in a comment below.