Friday, October 28, 2011

A Dissertation Concerning Vampires

A photograph of the title page for "Dissertations," dated 1759. One of the earliest works on vampires and how to deal with them is Dom Augustin Calmet's Dissertations Upon the Apparitions of Angels, Daemons, and Ghosts, and Concerning the Vampires of Hungary, Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia (London, M. Cooper, 1759). In his lengthy treatise, first published in France in 1746, Calmet examines many different occurrences and types of vampirism, which he claims is a new phenomenon not known in ancient times. Calmet writes that "It is common... to see men, who have been dead several years... come again, walk about, infest villages, torment men and cattle, suck the blood of their relations... and, at last, occasion their death."

Fortunately, Calmet also presents the only sure method of defeating such a creature. According to Calmet, "digging them out of their graves, impaling them, cutting of their heads, taking out their hearts, and burning their bodies" is necessary to prevent further calamity.

Oddly enough, Calmet himself seems to be of two minds about the whole subject. In his preface, he writes that those who believe in vampires will "accuse me of rashness and presumption... for denying their [vampires] existence" while others will "blame me for throwing away my time in writing upon this subject, which is... frivolous and trifling." Calmet ultimately sidesteps the whole issue by concluding that whether or not vampires are real, he has done humanity a service by either debunking the myth or presenting people with a means to deal with such creatures.

Ask for Oliver 6 to read the whole treatise.

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