Il vampiro è identificato nello spirito di una persona defunta o nel suo cadavere che ritorna nel mondo dei vivi per tormentarne l’esistenza, nutrendosi del sangue delle proprie vittime.

Nelle credenze popolari il vampiro è colui che è morto prematuramente o in modo violento. Un’infelice nella vita ultraterrena, streghe, stregoni, eretici o chiunque sia stato ucciso da un altro vampiro.

Il sangue essenza sacra e vitale diventa il prolungamento della non vita.

Omero narrava di come Ulisse sacrificò delle pecore alle ombre dei morti, tenendole a bada con la spada per impedirgli di berne il sangue prima di aver interrogato Tiresia:

”E quando con voti e con suppliche le stirpi dei morti ebbi invocato, prendendo le bestie tagliai loro la gola sopra la fossa: scorreva sangue nero fumante. S’affollarono fuori dall’Erebo l’anime dei travolti da morte. Ma io, la spada affilata dalla coscia sguainando, sedevo e non lasciavo le testi esangui dei morti avvicinarsi al sangue, prima che interrogassi Tiresia”.

La paura dei morti, del loro ritorno la reciproca relazione tra sangue e morte sono alla base del mito del vampiro. Figura affascinante e allo stesso capace di risvegliare arcaici terrori. Solo nella prima metà del XVIII secolo il vampiro troverà una definizione ben precisa.

In Europa il termine apparve per la prima volta nel 1725 e nel 1731 quando furono riportati due casi di vampirismo da alcuni giornali serbi.

In seguito comparirà, nel 1762, anche in Inghilterra e in Germania e solo allora sarà usato per designare il pipistrello che succhiava il sangue degli animali.

La prima identificazione del vampirismo nel mondo antico, la troviamo nelle figure al seguito di Ecate, la regina del mondo degli spettri. Una di queste figure diaboliche è l’Empusa, demone femminile capace di assumere vari aspetti anche di bella fanciulla per sedurre gli uomini e quindi succhiarne la forza vitale fino a provocarne la morte.

Un altro mito è quello di Lilith, la dea vampiro.

”Lilith abita precisamente nel Mar Rosso, ma tutte le notti si leva in volo. Struscia contro i vetri delle case, dove ci sono dei bambini appena nati e cerca di soffocarli . Altre volte entra nel corpo a un uomo, e l’uomo diventa spiritato .

E’ golosa di seme d’uomo, e sta sempre in agguato dove esso può andare sparso. Tutto il seme che non va a finire nell’unico luogo consentito, è suo. Tutto il seme che ogni uomo ha sprecato nella sua vita, per sogni o vizio o adulterio, è suo” scrive Primo Levi in Lilith e altri racconti.

Lilith, nella tradizione rabbinica medioevale, è la sposa infedele di Adamo, prima delle quattro mogli del diavolo e persecutrice dei neonati, in quanto ella detestava la discendenza di Eva, poiché l’aveva sostituita presso Adamo.

Un’altra figura del mondo classico presenta molti tratti vampirici: la strix. Indicata dai latini non solo come strega, ma anche come uccello notturno che si levava in volo di notte sulle culle dei bambini per succhiarne il sangue.

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