Vampires: Folklore Throughout the Ages.
What, exactly, is a vampire? (Thompson: Motif E 251. Vampire- Corpse which comes from grave at night and sucks blood). Does a vampire require a long black cape, fangs, and a mansion in Transylvania? Or can a vampire be any undead person roaming around somewhere between the grave and the netherworld? Is a vampire a possessing spirit out of the graveyards of Ancient Greece, or a leather-clad biker with fangs that appears on nearly every episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"? The origin and concept of vampires has puzzled historians and folklorists alike for ages. Many are not even sure as to the origin of the word "vampire". One would believe that the origin, like the mythical creature, emerged from the dark woods of the Greek and Rumanian countryside. However, according to Katharina Wilson, "Both linguistic studies concerning the etymology of the term "vampire" and the first recorded occurrences of the word in major European languages indicate that the word is neither Hungarian nor Rumanian" (577). Wilson goes on to note that the word "vampire" seems to have originated either from the Turkish word for "witch", the Greek word which means "to drink", or is possibly a combination of several Slavic terms, including upir ("witch"), wempti ("to drink"), and pirati ("to blow") (577-78).
There has recently been an influx of vampire folklore in popular culture. With the advent of television shows such as "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", fictional horror novels including Joel Schumacher's The Lost Boys and the series of vampire novels by Anne Rice, and movies such as "Interview with a Vampire" and "Bram Stoker's Dracula", one would believe that vampire appearances are just as common now as they were in the Middle Ages. With the sudden popularity of vampires in the media, historians and other professionals in the field are growing increasingly wary of the drastic digression from the historical accounts of vampires which have been reported from as early as the 3rd century B.