Monster Monday: Mykonos Vampire

We all know about vampires and werewolves, or at least we think we do. The legends and myths that inspired these monsters are sometimes surprisingly different, but no less chilling. In this series of posts, Monster Monday, we’ll investigate the monsters that have informed our modern notions, as well as some lesser known monsters. Today, we talk about the Mykonos Vampire.

Title page of the account of Joseph Pitton de Tournefort's journey through the Levant
Title page of the account of Joseph Pitton de Tournefort’s journey through the Levant

This story was recorded by a French botanist named Joseph Pitton de Tournefort traveling on the Greek island of Mykonos in 1701. A peasant who had been an unpleasant person during life died and was buried, but a few days later people began to report seeing him at night. He came into people’s homes, overturned furniture, put out lamps, made noise, and other mostly harmless tricks. However, when he started harassing the islands wealthy residents, they called in priests to stop him.

They exhumed the body and said a mass over the corpse, and then they called in the town butcher to cut out the heart so they could burn it. The butcher, though, was old and more familiar with sheep anatomy than human anatomy. He mutilated the body while trying to find the heart. The priests burned incense to cover the smell, but Tournefort suggested the stench caused those present to hallucinate, and many of them began screaming “Vrykolakas!” at the sight of the body, which was said to be still warm and filled with fresh blood.

They took the heart to the seashore and burned it, but the vampire still appeared, this time angrier. He began beating people, breaking windows, and doors, and tearing clothes. The priests decided that they should have burned the heart, then said mass, so they marched around the village chanting, saying prayers, and throwing holy water on the doors of the houses. It did not stop the vampire, however, and just before everyone considered leaving for the neighboring islands, they decided to dig up the body again and burn the entire corpse. When they did, peace was finally restored.

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