Vampires have become, over the years, a very popular monster in horror movies and stories, and they come in all shapes and sizes. However, people have grown accustomed to a certain type of vampire: vulgar, ugly, and vicious. They are killed by the sun, live only by moonlight, and are evil creatures who feel no compassion. But most might not know that the vampire originated in Greek Mythology, through an act of love.
***It is the story of an Italian man, Ambrogio, and his lover Selene. This story is told from The Scriptures of Delphi. Delphi was a shrine to Apollo (god of music, prophecy and the sun), and home of the Oracle. Ambrogio dreamed of having the Oracle tell him his future. So, he traveled to Greece. The Oracle at Delphi was very mysterious and said only, "The curse. The moon. The blood will run."
Ambrogio met Selene, the Oracle's sister, and fell in love with her. He proposed marriage, and she agreed. They were supposed to meet at dawn the next morning to make arrangements. However, Apollo had also fallen for Selene. He was irate that this man would steal a woman from him, especially from his own temple. So, in his anger, Apollo cursed Ambrogio, so that the slightest touch from his sunlight would burn the man's skin.
The curse prevented Ambrogio from meeting Selene the next morning and, not knowing what else to do, he hid from the sun in a cave. The cave led to the Underworld, and he made a deal with Hades. Hades promised that he would protect him and Selene if he could steal a silver bow from Apollo's sister, Artemis (the virgin goddess of the hunt). There were several stipulations, of course. Ambrogio would have to leave his soul in the Underworld until he returned, and if he were to return without the silver bow, he would be trapped there forever. Hades gave him a bow and a limited amount of arrows. He was to slay animals and offer them to Artemis to gain her trust. Instead of doing this, he used them to communicate with Selene. Each night he would kill a swan. He would use one feather as a pen, and the swan's blood as ink. He wrote letters and love poems to Selene to let her know that he hadn't abandoned her. He finally took one of the swans he'd killed to Artemis as an offering. When he used his last arrow to shoot a swan, he missed. He wasn't able to write a letter to Selene, and he had nothing to offer the goddess. Fortunately, Artemis saw that he was a great hunter and she appeared to him. He asked if he could borrow her bow and arrow so that he could kill a swan to write a last letter to his lover. She took pity on him and agreed. When she gave him the bow and arrow, he fled to the cave that led to the Underworld.
Enraged, Artemis too put a curse on Ambrogio - a curse that caused all silver to burn his skin. He dropped the silver bow, and it never got to Hades. His soul was trapped in the Underworld.
He begged Artemis for forgiveness and, again taking pity on the man, she offered him another deal. She would give him magnificent hunting skills, as well as fangs for weapons to pierce his prey. The only catch was that he and Selene must abandon Apollo and worship Artemis instead. Being the virgin goddess, Artemis' followers must remain abstinent. Ambrogio and his lover could not be passionate with one another; they could never have children.
Ambrogio wrote another letter to Selene, telling her to meet him at his ship. When she arrived, there was a coffin and instructions not to open it until the sun had set. Ambrogio and Selene lived happily for quite some time. But Ambrogio was immortal; Selene was not. When she got old and grew sick, he was desperate not to lose her. Artemis appeared to him once again, allowing him a single touch on his lady - to drink her blood. She told him that, by doing this, her mortal soul would be killed and she would become immortal as he was. Also, the mixture of their blood together could create more immortal beings. Selene's mortal soul rose to the moon, and Selene became the goddess of the moon. They had several children - the several vampires that their combined blood created.
***The vampire eventually did become gruesome and vile, but one must know where it came from in order to truly appreciate it. One might think that it is not the nature of the creature, but the forced solitary life that drove it to such grotesqueries. Love created the first vampire. And it is no surprise that they have become vile, lonely creatures. For it must be near impossible to find love when you must kill in order to live. It could possibly be believed that the vampire is a creature of a broken heart - and that it drinks the blood of the living in a sad attempt at filling that void.