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 empusa, who really does not like swearing.
An empusa is one of the vyrkolakoi. She’s an elusive sort of creature. I had a lot of trouble finding information on her. She might be really good at hiding. Or maybe she doesn’t bother hiding at all…
According to Rosemary Ellen Guiley, an empusa doesn’t have a shape of her own, but is a demon who takes over corpses.
I have a problem believing that because Philostratus tells a story in The Life of Apollonius of Tyana about a certain young, handsome man from Lycia by the name of Menippus. This guy met a pretty young Phoenician woman and fell in love with her. He was going to marry her, but Apollonius saw through her disguise and made her admit that she was an empusa and was going to devour him right after their wedding night.
But the thing is, what corpse is so young and pretty that a handsome guy would want to marry her? None.
I’m more likely to believe the other origin story, that Empusa was an actually a demigoddess, the daughter of the witch goddess Hecate and the spirit Mormo (despite the fact that both of these people were females). This Empusa seduced guys like a succubus, then drank their blood while they slept.
If you think that the sweet young chick you’ve just met is an empusa, try this simple test: Swear at her. Insult her. An actual empusa really does not like that.
Of course if she’s not an empusa, try explaining that one.
The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters
by Rosemary Ellen Guiley