Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Acronyms, Idioms, Wikipedia.
The folklore of Europe reported the use of seeds as a protective measure against vampires. The kinds of seeds varied from place to place, but most frequently mentioned was mustard seed, a very small seed that Jesus spoke of in one of his parables in the Christian New Testament of the Bible. Seeds of millet (a name used to refer to several grasses and grains), were most popular, but those of linen, carrot, and rice were also used. Seeds might be placed in the coffin to entertain the vampire, but more commonly were spread over the grave site and along the road leading from the cemetery to the village or family home of the deceased.
The idea behind the use of seeds, and on occasion a knotted cloth or fish net, was to take the vampire’s attention away from his intended victim in town. It was thought that the vampire was required to collect and count each seed before he could come to town and do any damage. Most often, he was able to count only one seed a year. Thus, a handful of mustard seeds could, if one accepted the logic of its use, prevent the vampire’s return for an indefinite period.
Selene Selene was a fictional vampire city featured in La Ville vampire, an 1875 novel by French writer Paul Féval (1816–87). As the novel was not published in English until 2003, it has remained largely unknown among modern vampire enthusiasts, who have been concentrated within the English-speaking world. Féval’s vampires were unique in having a tounge with a tip sharp enough to open wounds from which they could suck blood. They also had a power to duplicate themselves using the bodies of other people and animals.
Féval located Selene in Yugoslavia, north of Belgrade, close to the site of the village where Arnold Paul lived, subject of one of the most famous vampire incidents during the eighteenth century. During the hour approaching noon, the cover that shrouded the city would become visible. As one approached the mysterious Selene, the environment changed suddenly—the green vegetation faded away and the sky turned dark. The city was a conglomeration of architectural styles centered around a spiral pyramidal temple. Among its statues was a set showing women being clawed to death by a tiger. The city was inhabited by famous personages of past centuries who were now vampires.
In the somewhat satirical novel, a group arrived in the city in search of a vampire. They carried an iron ladle, some coal, a small portable stove, candles, and smelling salts. They were accompanied by a surgeon who resided in a town near the vampire’s home, who had lost two daughters to the creatures. The group entered the village and upon locating the vampire they had targeted, and using the smelling salts to counter the stench, the surgeon removed the vampire’s heart with the iron ladle and burned it on the stove. The vampire died and his heart was reduced to ashes. The clock sounded, and other vampires began to rise. The group, carrying the ashes of the vampire’s heart, retreated from the city. They used the ashes to escape the hunger and wrath of the city’s vampire inhabitants. The ash, when sprinkled on vampires, caused them to explode with a bluish flash.
La Ville vampire was one of the pre-Dracula attempts to play with the vampire legends then alive in Western Europe, prior to the time when the major elements of the literary vampire had been firmly established. It incorporated pieces of Eastern European folklore, especially the practice of burning the suspected vampire’s heart, but, like most fictional works of the time, included elements that were not in the modern vampire myth—such as other vampires reacting to the ashes of the dead vampire’s heart.
Féval, Paul. La Ville vampire. Paris: 1875. Vampire City. Brian Stableford, trans. Encino, CA: Black Coat Press, 2003. 200 pp.
Manguel, Alberto, and Gianni Guadalupi. The Dictionary of Imaginary Places. San Diego, CA: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovitch, Publishers, 1987. 454 pp.