Friday, July 17, 2015

Origin of the Vampires: The Scriptures of Delphi

Vampires are thought to be fictitious beings, products of our collective imaginations and something borne of our need to be frightened or mystified. Yet, there are those walking among us that proudly claim to be members of this group. They tend to be secretive, form covens among themselves and present evidence that appears to validate their point of view and existence. While there is no smoking gun that positively proves that these people are anything other than human beings with active imaginations, it is equally impossible to find evidence that refutes their claims. It must be mentioned here that interacting with one or more of them, even if only in the cyber world, can be a compelling experience indeed.

What follows is a story about their origins. There are other such myths, but this tale is taken from the Scriptures of Delphi, a document produced only two and three generations ago, by a woman and her son, both now deceased, whose family claims a prophetic lineage dating back to ancient Greece. Although the Scriptures of Delphi comprise a relatively modern document, they supposedly represent stories passed down through oral tradition spanning thousands of years. Are they mythological? Absolutely. Yet, who can deny that there are at least some grains of truth in all myth?

The above-mentioned writings, or scriptures, are broken down into several chapters such as the Taurus Myth and The Mythology of Cancer. Of much interest however, is the chapter entitled The Vampire Bible. It is here that the reader can learn at least one version of early vampire history. Also found within this chapter is the story of the vampire origins. It is important to keep all of these details in mind if you the reader, decide to continue with this article. This is mythology and is not to be taken literally, and yet...

As a young man with an adventurous spirit, Ambrogio wanted to leave his native land, known now as Italy, in order to travel to Greece and in particular, the religious city of Delphi, where he hoped to have his fortune told by the Pythia, or oracles, at Apollo's Temple. 

Ambrogio set sail for the western shore of Greece nearly as soon as he came of age. Upon his arrival there, he headed east until finally reaching the great city. 

The young man entered the temple and found the Pythia sitting quietly within one of the temple's chambers. As was customary with the oracles, they foretold his future by uttering only a handful of words. "The curse. The moon. The blood will run." 

The oracle's words so mystified him, that Ambrogio sat outside the temple for the entire night pondering their meaning. On his way back to town in the morning, he spotted a beautiful young woman dressed in white. She was walking in the direction of the temple. The young man found her irresistible and strode in her direction to introduce himself. Her name was Selene. She served as a maiden of the temple as her sister was one of the oracles. 

For the next several mornings Ambrogio made it a point to meet with Selene before she'd begin her temple duties. Before long the two had fallen in love. On his last full day in the city the lovestruck man asked Selene to marry him and return with him to his country. She accepted his proposal. The young man, filled with both joy and anticipation, informed her that he would make all the necessary preparations and would meet her at dawn the following morning. 

Apollo, the sun god, had also taken a liking to Selene and was outraged that Ambrogio had the audacity to actually come to his temple and then attempt to influence one of his maidens in such a way. That night he appeared to the young man and placed a curse upon him, causing any sunlight to fall upon the man's skin to burn him intensely. 

The following morning Ambrogio awoke in a mood of intense frustration. as he knew that he could not meet with his love because of the curse. What would she think when he didn't show up? With nowhere else to go, he entered a cave that led to Hades, the god of the underworld. After listening to the distraught young man's story, Hades offered him a deal. He would offer Ambrogio and Selene protection in the underworld provided that he could steal the silver bow of  the goddess Artemis, the Mistress of Animals and the Hunt. Hades stated that he would give his his visitor a magical wooden bow and eleven arrows to hunt with. Then, by bringing his trophies to Artemis, the man would be able to garner her favor, thereby gaining access to her silver bow. 

If Ambrogio refused Hades' offer he would have to spend the rest of his life living in the dark underworld. He would never see Selene again. There was another catch however. The lovestruck young man would have to leave his soul in Hades as collateral. Seeing very little choice in the matter, Ambrogio accepted the deal.   

Still distraught over not being able to meet with Selene, he devised a way in which to communicate with her. By slaying a swan with the bow and arrow, he would use one of its feathers as a pen by dipping it in the dead bird's blood. 

He wrote Selene a note, explaining that he would find a way to see her again and left it at their meeting place before the rising sun could burn him. Then, he brought the same swan to Artemis as a tribute. He followed the same routine for 44 days; each morning leaving Selene his poetry of love before sunrise, then offering the slain swan as tribute to Artemis. Selene, not wanting to further anger Apollo, continued her duties at the temple during that time. 

Ambrogio had only one arrow left by the 45th night, but when he fired at another swan his missed it entirely. He fell upon the ground and wept upon the realization that he no longer had a way to either communicate with Selene or a way to offer tribute to Artemis. As he continued weeping, Artemis felt badly for him because of his many efforts on her behalf and came down to him. The distraught young man pleaded with her to allow him to use her silver bow and an arrow in order that he could both kill another swan for her as well as communicate with Selene one last time. 

The goddess took pity on him and agreed to his request. Once he had the bow and arrow in hand however, Ambrogio ran back to Hades' cave. Quickly realizing that she'd been tricked, Artemis reacted by placing her own curse upon him, one that caused all silver to burn his skin. The fleeing trickster immediately dropped her implements due to the scorching pain they caused him. 

Ambrogio apologized profusely once Artemis caught up with him. After he explained the deal he'd been forced to enter into with Hades, the goddess' sympathy grew once more. She offered him a deal he couldn't refuse. She would give him immortality and make him a great hunter. Further, she would give him fangs with which to drain the blood of the creatures he killed in order to write his poetry. In exchange for his immortality, he and Selene would have to safely get away from Apollo's temple and worship Artemis exclusively. Since the goddess had remained a virgin however, the two lovers would have to follow suit by never being able to touch one another in any manner. Just the thought of rejoining Selene and being close to her again made the agreement worth the price. That night, Ambrogio killed another swan; and with its blood, left Selene another note, directing her to meet him on a certain ship at port. She fled the temple before Apollo could notice and headed for the docks. 

Selene immediately went down into the hull of the ship upon her arrival. Looking around the ship's interior, she found a wooden coffin and a note, instructing her to direct the ship's captain to set sail at once and not to open the coffin until dark. When night fell over the waters, she removed the coffin's lid to find Ambrogio inside; alive and well. 

The ship brought the couple to Ephesus, where they spent many years together. During the day, they remained in a cave. At night they worshiped Artemis together in her grand temple. 

With the passage of time Selene grew older and older until finally, she was near death. Ambrogio, still youthful in appearance, knew that he would soon lose her. One night he killed a white swan and offered it to Artemis, pleading with her to make Selene immortal so that he wouldn't have to live without her. The goddess answered his call and appeared to him. The goddess was filled with gratitude for all of his years of worship and dedication to her, so she offered him one more deal. 

"You may touch Selene just one time," she told him, "to drink of her blood. If you do this, it will kill
her mortal body, but from then on any who drink of your blood will become immortal." 

At first, Ambrogio couldn't bring himself to commit such an act; especially upon Selene, the love of his life. When he informed his love as to what Artemis had told him, the dying woman pleaded with him to do it. Eventually, his resistance to the idea softened. Touching Selene for the first time in many years, he bit into her neck and drank of her blood. Selene died in his arms as her sweet sanguine essence ran down his cheeks. 

As he set Selene's lifeless body down it began to glow. He could only stare in disbelief as her spirit rose up toward the sky to meet Artemis at the moon. Suddenly, the moon took on a brilliant luminescence. The very spirit of Selene had transformed into that of a goddess, the Goddess of Moonlight. Every night from that time on, she would reach down with her light and touch her beloved Ambrogio.

So sayeth the Scriptures of Delphi. 
There are those who believe that Ambrogio eventually returned to Italy--Florence to be exact. That's where he allegedly started the first vampire clan or coven. There are also those who say that the first coven eventually erupted into conflict, that some members left to start other clans. It is generally considered that members of the first coven likely consented to giving up their souls in exchange for immortality. And there are even those who say that Ambrogio still walks the streets of Florence to this very day. 

As mentioned earlier, there are other stories of vampire origins. These may appear at a later time.

For more information on vampires and mythology follow this link.
     
Photo source: Gothic Pictures Gallery

Author unknown

     




14 comments:

  1. That was so interesting! The story really caught me and it makes sense if vampires are real, but probably a myth like others ;-)

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    1. I thought it was interesting. I hope to get into more vampire origin myths in the future. It's an intriguing subject.

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  2. Fascinating, thank you.

    Jane (breakingtheangel.wordpress.com)

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    1. You're very welcome. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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  3. Exceptionally fascinating, I never heard of this version; it feels like a true gothic romance

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    1. It certainly does; only way before Gothic times. lol

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  4. I'd never heard this version before, Nightwind. I think I like it, but then again, I think I prefer my vampires to come from Transylvania. ;)

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    1. I'm kind of with you, Insomniac. I like this story for sure, but it takes place before the time of castles, Gothic architecture and yes, the folklore of Transylvania. If I'm not mistaken, it even comes from a time before Siouxsie and the Banshees and Bauhaus!

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  5. Hi! I just discovered your blog! This story is very interesting to me. I'm greek and I enjoy reading greek mythology. I knew goddess Selene (this is her, by the way https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selene) but it's the first time I associate her with vampires. I thought vampires preferred cold places, not sunny Greece.

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    1. In this story Ambrogio has to avoid the sunlight, so that aspect of the vampire legacy holds true. But you bring up a good point, many vampire tales come from colder, darker places, such as Transylvania or London. As mentioned, this myth was written in much more recent times, that may be why you never heard of Ambrogio and his relationship with Selene.

      Thank you for commenting, Siren!

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    2. Oh we do have stories about vampires, in greek folclore, but they resemble zombies. They were very sinful people or they dodn't have a proper burial. They come out at night, they are ugly and they haunt their family. Thanks for answering me, i 'll read more of your interesting posts

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  6. Replies
    1. Apparently, vampires do exist, but they are human and not the undead, supernatural creatures of folklore and fantasy.

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