All'origine del vampiro: Leone Allacci e il 'burculaca'

Tommaso Braccini


Leo Allatius (1586-1669) dealt extensively with contemporary Greek folklore in his treatise "De Graecorum hodie quorundam opinationibus" (1645), "On the beliefs of some modern Greeks". In particular, he wrote about the "vampires" who haunted the Greek islands: undecaying dead bodies who were believed to come out of their graves at night to terrorize and even kill people. Allatius does not distinguish between burculaca and tympaniaios (the two species of 'vampire' found in Orthodox canon law texts) and tries to explain this phenomenon in two ways: either these corpses are animated by the devil, or they are still inhabited, as a penance, by the sinful souls of their former owners. Some scholars have argued that Allatius' handling of this matter is heavily influenced by his catholic faith and his belief in Purgatory. A thorough analysis of Greek folklore, travellers' accounts and Byzantine texts seems to demonstrate that Allatius' views were widespread and dated back to Byzantine times, and that they were influenced, moreover, by the diffusion of the medieval heresy of Bogomilism.

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