Greek Vampires

There are over a dozen words in the Greek language that translate to mean "vampire," and it is no wonder, as Greece has more species of vampires and vampiric creatures than any other country.
Just like the great white shark, which over the eons has changed very little, evolutionally speaking, so too has the Greek vampire. For the most part, their mythos was consistent up until the introduction of Christianity, then, after a slight adaptation was made in order to keep their monster, their vampire has remained unchanged ever since. Naturally, there are slight variations from region to region as to who can become a vampire, how it happens, what it looks like, the preventative methods that can be taken to prevent a corpse from rising up from its grave, and that notwithstanding, how the creature is consequently destroyed.
To begin, there are oftentimes a number of ways to spell a single vampire's name. This is most likely due to Greece being an island nation; even from its earliest times natives traveled freely between them. Just as each island developed its own variation in language, it is natural that the spelling of words would also have slight variations to them as well.
Greek vampires are almost always REVENANTS and usually come to be so because in life a person was particularly evil and was excommunicated from the Church. Having committed suicide was also grounds for returning as an undead (see UNDEATH), for in the Catholic religion the act of taking one's own life prohibits a person from having mass said for one's soul and being buried in hallowed ground. It automatically closes the gates of Heaven to that person. Other ways Greeks can become a vampire is by having the misfortune of being murdered, having eaten a piece of meat that was killed by a wolf, or allowing an animal to jump over a corpse.
All REVENANT Greek vampires are described the same way—as a corpse whose skin has been tanned and pulled so tightly over its body that when slapped it feels and sounds like a drum. This skin condition is called timpanios. Other than the occasional species that is said to be bloated, the body shows no sign of decomposition whatsoever.
According to the Church of Saint Sophia at Thessalonica, Greece, there are four types of bodies that do not decay. The first type is preserved in the front but its back has obvious signs of decay. This happens when a person dies under the effects of a curse or has left unfulfilled a specific request made by his parents. The second type has turned yellow and its fingers are wrinkled but is otherwise preserved, the sign of a person who has died in the midst of a scandal. The third type looks pale but is otherwise preserved, and this happens only to people who have been excommunicated from the Church. The fourth and final type is that of a person who has been excommunicated from the Church but only at the local level, such as by a bishop. The body is whole, but its skin has turned black.
As it hunts for human prey, something it cando anytime during the day or night, it begins by going door to door, knocking loudly. If no one answers after the first knock, it will not linger long enough to knock a second time.
The Greek REVENANTS can rise and return to their graves without disturbing the dirt. To see a Greek vampire is enough to kill a person instantly, and if that were not awful enough, their presence alone is harmful to nearby humans. The need to consume human blood is not a requirement for their continued existence, so the fact that they hunt and kill at all only adds to the evilness of their nature.
If the vampires of Greece were to have a weakness, it would be that they are so well known and consistent that they can be avoided and defeated. They have no physical disabilities or susceptibilities that can be exploited. By not answering the door when it knocks or by having the Church recant the excommunication will outsmart and undo the vampire.
Source: Melton, Vampire Book; Szigethy, Vampires, 4, 6, 59; Summers, Vampire in Lore and Legend, 18, 43, 217­220

Encyclopedia of vampire mythology . 2014.

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