Ancient Vampires: The Show Notes

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Welcome to the show notes, our favourite place to tell you a little more about the show.

This week we talked about a lot of vampires of the ancient world. Particularly Greco-Roman vampires, with some Sumerian and Germanic lore thrown in. While we were researching these myths we came across some creepy images, and as it’s Halloween, we wanted to share them with you.


This is the stuff of ancient Babylonian and Sumerian nightmares.



Yep, we’re never going to sleep again.



Flame hair. Leg of brass. Leg of an ass. Yes, this is definitely an empusa.

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Lamia, or land shark, with the body of a woman and the tail of a snake. Don’t let her sad face fool you; this ancient vampire is deadly.

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Why, Slenderman, why? This ancient vampire is terrifying.


The Shades

Genn’s first education into vampires of the ancient world. Here is Odysessus feeding the shades some blood so they will tell him their stories. That’s a slippery slope, Odysseus, be careful.



The Shroud-eating vampires. This is a great big bag of nope for us.





And because we can’t wait to one day visit Santorini, here is a photo of Santorini at sunset looking into the caldera. For you volcano nerds (like Genn) this is exactly what it sounds like, the sunken caldera of a supervolcano. Swoon. Just beware the Vrykolatios. They only knock once. Wait for the second knock . . .



If you want more spooky Halloween/vampire themed podcasts, we recommend:

Stuff to Blow Your Mind’s Vampire Clinic series: all about the correlation between diseases and vampires. Listen here.

We also really enjoyed Lore’s Out For Blood. Listen here.

This is that This American Life episode where Mike Birbiglia jumps out of his hotel room window in his sleep. Listen here.

And finally, because we found this episode fascinating, here is the link for Morbid Curiosity Podcast’s Death on Mount Everest.



Ecclesiazusae 1094; Philostratus Life of Apollonius of Tyana 2.4 & 4.25; Suidas s.v. Empusa)

Barbarian Rites: The Spiritual World of the Vikings and the Germanic Tribes, Hans-Peter Hasenfratz, Ph.D.

Encyclopedia of Spirits and Ghosts in World Mythology by Theresa Bane


3 Comments on Ancient Vampires: The Show Notes

  1. Holy BEANS, Ladies. This was awesome! Thank you guys for doing this. I love myths as much as I love history and I love how you guys are telling it. Keep it up!!

    It’s kind of interesting how myths of vampires fold into one another, though, huh? How one myth combines with another myth to create something that ends up being what we recognize today…. super cool. 🙂 I know you only had so much time, but the Hopping Vampire really is a cool myth. If I remember correctly, if you keep a pocket full of rice or some other grain, you can keep yourself safe by scattering it in its path. It has to stop and count (and or pick up?) every single grain before it can continue the hunt……

    • It IS! We didn’t get time to go into it, but there are a few things in the ancient canon that talk about vampire OCD…that you can tell if someone is a vampire or not by seeing if they count the seeds you drop in front of them. (Also, does this not remind you of the Count from Sesame Street??)

  2. It occurred to me that the silver aspect of Vampire folklore history also ties in to the plague aspect much like the garlic. Since silver is antimicrobial both externally and internally (as colloidal silver not sure if the ancients had that though) helps to either kill germs on the outside or boost immunity when taken internally. So more plague vampire prevention parallels

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