There are a lot of vampires in Greek folklore. In fact, where we have one name for undead creatures who inhabit corpses and suck the blood of the living, they have a crapload of them. I’ll feature one of them today, the vyrkolakoi, the lost souls.
Vyrkolakoi is a general name for lost souls who wander the earth, unable to find peace.
One kind of vyrkolakoi is a sort of vampire. If you’re an evil person or die by violence, a demon can inhabit your body and soul between the time you die and the time you’re buried. Then you get up from your grave and go around drinking the blood of your relatives through their noses, killing them, or maybe just giving them anemia.
This kind of vyrkolakoi can change into any animal, and even take on the form of other humans, a handy trick if you’re hungry for some nose blood.
It’s interesting that vyrkolakoi can also be created if the rituals of burial aren’t carried out exactly as they’re supposed to be.
Death rituals have been an important part of Greek culture for as far back as our records of history go. Maybe you saw the part of Troy where Brad Pitt killed Eric Bana and dragged his body around the city? This came directly from Homer’s poem the Iliad, about the siege of Troy.
In Greek culture, Achilles treating Hector’s body that way was just as bad as killing him–if not worse. After all, Hector died as an honorable knight.
We don’t know what the ancient Greeks thought about vampires, or if they even believed in them. If the ancient Greeks believed what their descendants did, Achilles ensured Hector became a wandering spirit, unable to find peace. That’s the best case scenario.
At worst, the noble prince Hector would have become a ravenous flesh-eating ghoul, intent on sucking the blood of his own family.