B2 High-Intermediate 16720 Folder Collection
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Good evening!
What's the matter?
Are you afraid of vampires?
Hehe, no need to worry,
I'm not staying for dinner.
Ahahaha. I'm here to guide you
through a brief history of vampires,
illustrating how our image has changed
from a shambling corpse
to the dapper gentleman you see before you.
Vampires are nearly as old as you humans.
Stories about us, our evidence,
appear in cultures extending
as far back as prehistoric times.
But we weren't called vampires back then
and most of us did not look the way
we imagine vampires today,
far from it!
For example, the Mesopotamian Lamashtu
was a creature with a head of a lion
and the body of the donkey,
and the ancient Greek striges
were simply described as bloodthirsty birds.
Others were even stranger.
The Philippine manananggal would sever her upper torso
and sprout huge, bat-like wings to fly.
The Malaysian Penanggalan was a flying female head
with dangling entrails.
Heh heh heh heh.
And the Australian Yara-ma-yha-who
was a little red guy with a big head,
a large mouth,
and bloodsuckers on his hands and feet.
Oh, and let's not forget the Caribbean's Sukuyan,
the West African obayifo,
and the Mexican Tlahuelpuchi.
Heh heh, charming, aren't they?
Though they may look vastly different,
all of these beings have one common characteristic:
They sustain themselves by consuming
the life force of a living creature.
This shared trait is what defines a vampire --
all other attributes change with the tides.
So, how do we arrive
at the reanimated fellow you see before you?
Our modern ideal emerges
in 18th-century Eastern Europe.
With the dramatic increase of vampire superstitions,
stories of bloodsucking, shadowy creatures
become nightly bedside terrors.
And popular folklore,
like the moroi among the Romani people
and the lugat in Albania,
provide the most common vampire traits known today,
such as vampires being undead
and nocturnal
and shape-shifting.
You see, Eastern Europe in the 18th century
was a pretty grim place
with many deaths occurring
from unknown diseases and plagues.
Without medical explanations,
people searched for supernatural causes
and found what looked like evidence
in the corpses of the victims.
When villagers dug up bodies
to discern the cause of the mysterious deaths,
they would often find the cadavers
looking very much alive --
longer hair and fingernails,
bloated bellies,
and blood at the corners of mouths.
Heh heh, clearly, these people were not really dead.
Heh, they were vampires!
And they had been leaving their graves
to feast on the living.
The terrified villagers would quickly enact
a ritual to kill the undead.
The practices varied across the region,
but usually included beheadings,
and staking the body to the coffin
to prevent it from getting up.
Grizzly stuff!
But what the villagers interpreted as unholy reanimation,
they're actually normal symptoms of death.
When a body decomposes,
the skin dehydrates,
causing the hair and fingernails to extend.
Bacteria in the stomach creates gases
that fill the belly,
which force out blood and matter through the mouth.
Unfortunately, this science was not yet known,
so the villagers kept digging.
In fact, so many bodies were dug up
that the Empress of Austria sent
her physician around to disprove the vampire stories,
and she even established a law
prohibiting grave tampering.
Still, even after the vampire hunts had died down,
the stories of legends survived
in local superstition.
This led to works of literature,
such as Polidori's "The Vampyre,"
the Gothic novel "Carmilla,"
and, most famously, Bram Stoker's "Dracula."
Although Stoker incorporated historical material,
like Elizabeth Báthory's virgin blood baths
and the brutal executions of Vlad Dracul,
it was these local myths
that inspired the main elements of his story:
the Transylvanian setting,
using garlic to defend oneself,
and the staking of the heart.
While these attributes are certainly familiar to us,
elements he invented himself
have also lasted over the years:
fear of crucifixes,
weakness in sunlight,
and the vampire's inability
to see their reflection.
By inventing new traits,
Stoker perfectly enacted the age-old tradition
of elaborating upon
and expanding the myth of vampires.
As we saw,
maybe you met my relatives,
a huge of variety of creatures stalked the night
before Dracula,
and many more will continue
to creep through our nightmares.
Yet, so long as they subsist
off a living being's life force,
they are part of my tribe.
Even sparkling vampires can be included.
After all, it's the continued storytelling
and reimagining of the vampire legend
that allows us to truly live
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【TED-Ed】Vampires: Folklore, fantasy and fact - Michael Molina

16720 Folder Collection
Liling Lee Liling published on April 3, 2014
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