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Monday, August 16, 2010

The Greek vampiress . . . the empousa

For this week’s Magical Monday presentation, I have chosen to discuss female demons called empousai.

These are Greek in origin, stemming from the words empousae meaning “force in” and empusa, “vampire.” The empousai are supposedly children born from Hecate, Goddess of the underworld, ghosts, and magic. She directs these offspring to go out during the daytime and enter a human body for the purpose of consuming its flesh and drinking its blood.

In appearance, the empousai are dirty and ugly, with rear ends of asses, sometimes having one brass leg and the other of an ass. They can assume forms of cows, dogs, or beautiful girls who seduce men.

This latter form of the demon was noted in The Life of Apollonius of Tyana by Philostratus. In that work, an intelligent and handsome young man, Menippus, walked along the road to Cenchreae and met an apparition, an empousa disguised as a Phoenician woman. Under her evil spell, he fell in love with her and planned to marry her. At the wedding, Apollonius suspected her identity when she exhibited her greed, gloating over the gold and silver she now owned by marriage. He informed his friend, the groom, she must be an empousai. Menippus ordered him out of the house, but his friend’s declaration broke her spell. All the gold and silver disappeared.

Apollonius insisted she reveal herself and she admitted she intended to eat her new husband once she fattened him up. She enjoyed the pure blood of young strong bodies. Menippus was saved a death at the hands of an empousai . . . a Greek vampiress.


J.L. Stratton said...

Wow, you are a wealth of knowledge. very intriquing, indeed.

Marsha A. Moore said...

I thought this one was particularly creepy.

Thanks for stopping by.

Celtic Chick said...

This was really interesting and kind of creepy. LOL I had a Lamia in one of my books. She was half-serpent, half-woman and fed off blood and lust. I like finding out about different vampires. Thanks for sharing!

Marsha A. Moore said...

You're welcome! I like to add a variety of demons into my writing, or use folklore ideas as springboards for new ones of my own creation.

Marsha A. Moore said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PamelaTurner said...

Hi Marsha,

I remember reading about the empousai in an encyclopedia of vampires.

Agree with you about finding different beings to use in your stories. Finlay Cowan has some great books for artists that describe various supernatural creatures from around the world.

Marsha A. Moore said...

I'll check out those references. Thanks, Pam!

Nancy said...

The story of the spooky wedding gives me shivers. strange how 'vapires' show up around the world. Thanks for another magical Monday!

Marsha A. Moore said...

Yes, vampires seem to have captured our imaginations throughout history.

Thanks for visiting, Nancy.