Allatius, Leo

Allatius, Leo (1586–1669)

(pop culture)

Seventeenth-century Greek theologian, scholar, and keeper of the Vatican library, Leo Allatius (also known as Leone Allacci) was also a vampirologist and possibly the first modern author to write a lengthy part of a book on vampires. Allatius was born in 1586 on the Greek island of Chios. In 1600 he moved to Rome to attend the Greek College there. It is not known whether his mother was a catholic Christian (his father was orthodox), or whether he converted to the Roman Church. Allatius was deeply convinced of the inner spiritual unity of the Greek and the Roman Church and later worked incessantly for a reunion of the churches. After completing his studies, he returned to Chios as the assistant to the Roman Catholic Bishop Marco Giustiniani. He later moved back to Italy to study medicine and rhetoric, and worked for many years at the Vatican library, where he organized, among other things, the transport of the Palatine Library to Rome.

In 1645 he completed De Graecorum hodie quorundam opinationibus, in which he discussed many of the beliefs common to the people of Greece, making Allatius an early example of modern folklore studies. Allatius covered the Greek vampire traditions in great detail. He described the vrykolakas, the undecomposed corpse that has been taken over by a demon, and noted the regulations of the Greek Church for the discernment and disposal of a vrykolakas. He then noted his own belief in the existence of vampires, which had occasionally been reported on Chios.

While Allatius personally accepted the reality of vampires, and his book helped to popularize the connection between Greece and vampires, he did not dwell upon the subject throughout his life. He continued to work at the Vatican library, and in 1661, was honored by being appointed its custodian. Allatius died in Rome on January 19, 1669.


Hartnup, Karen. On the Beliefs of the Greeks: Leo Allatios and Popular Orthodoxy. Leiden: Brill, 2004. 370 pp.
Summers, Montague. The Vampire: His Kith and Kin. London: Routledge, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, & Co., 1928. 356 pp. Rept. New Hyde Park, NY: University Books, 1960. 356 pp.