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Empousai

The "real" vampire queens!

The history of vampires in our culture is extremely old, and it should come as no surprise that stories of long-fanged, night-dwelling bloodsuckers have a place in Greek mythology! Hecate, the old, wise and beautiful goddess of magic and witchcraft was, by her very nature, someone who felt completely at home among the shadows of the night. In one evening of passion with her long-time companion, Mormo, a "daemon" (spirit) with a reputation for biting small children who wouldn't behave, the goddess gave birth to a race of deceptively-beautiful, seductive, bloodthirsty sisters called the EMPOUSAI (em-pu-sigh), led by their eldest sister, Empusa (em-pu-sah).

These weren't some wishy-washy Hollywood "Twilight" vampires, all sparkly, weak-looking and pale. The Empousai were devious, inhumanly strong, extremely vicious, vindictive and could become ugly (in personality and in their looks) at a moment's notice, sinking their long, piercing fangs into your jugular vein to drain every ounce of blood from your body. And the Greeks were absolutely terrified of them...

Empusa and her sisters feasted on rich, red blood by seducing young men as they slept in their beds at night. The Empousai would give them visions of their beauty and soft voices, right before plunging their fangs in to the soft resting flesh, greedily slurping and drinking their blood and devouring their flesh.

Empusa, as the model of her kind, was mesmerizingly beautiful to look at (perfect for luring in the passions of young men!), was shown as wearing a pair of brazen (brass) slippers (for what purpose? No one knows. Perhaps she just liked to be in the best fashions.) and bearing flaming hair (in other words, Empusa may have been a red-head! Or, her hair really WAS on fire...).

Her name itself gives a description of her; "Empusa" means "one-footed" (empous: en-, one + pous, foot). In the legends, she had some odd things going on with her legs; despite her beauty, she and her sisters had one leg shaped like that of a donkey's and the other leg was fitted with a fake, all-bronze leg.

So, backing up to look at the whole picture, the Empousai were quite a bizarre (if not completely deadly) group of sisters, a totally sinister addition to Hecate's large, dark, shadowy family.

Is it any wonder that the ancient Greeks used tales of their horrific fangs and cold, violent eyes to scare their kids into behaving?

Even now gentlemen, the next time you're approached by a slightly-limping, tall and intense, brilliantly-redheaded woman with cold, inhuman eyes, you might want to double-think asking her out on a date!

[1]

Sources

[1] "Mrpsmythopedia"




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