appeared from: Within the Shadowlands
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A Serbian peasant named Peter Plogojowitz died in 1725 and was buried in his village of Kisilova. A little more than two months later, nine other villagers, young and old, died within a single week. On their death beds, all of them claimed that Plogojowitz had come to them in their sleep, laind down upon them, and throttled the very life out of them---that Plogojowiz, instead of resting peacefully in his grave, had become a vampire. Plogojowiz's wife further terrified the frightened villagers when she told them that her dead husband had appeared to her and demanded his shoes. Then she fled Kisilova for another community.
At the time of the mysterious deaths, this part of Servia was under Austria's imperial rule. Many Austiran bureaucrats had come to the region to admininster its government, and one such official was asked by the Kisilova villagers to witness the opening of Plogojowiz's grave to look for signs that the peasant had become a bloodthirsty vampire.
Although the imperial povisor of the Gradisk District disapproved of the plans to disturb Plogojowitz's body and deal with it in time honoured fashion, they would abandon the village before they all were detroyed by the evil spirit. So the reluctant bureaucrat, with the Gradisk priest in tow, attended the opening of Plogojowiz's grave and reported that he oberserved what the peasants had feared:" The body, except for the nose , which was somewhat fallen away, was completely fresh," he wrote. "The hair and beard- even the nails, of which the old ones had fallen away- had grown on him; the old skin, which was somewhat whitish, had peeled away, and a new fresh one had emerged under it.... Not without asthonisment, I saw some fresh blood in his mouth, which according to the common obseration, he had sucked from the people killed by him. "
These details revealing that the corpse had not started to decay were folklore "proof" that the body was that of a vampire. Beside themselves with fear, the villagers quickly sharpened a wooden stake and pierced Poggonowitz through the heart, which caused fresh blood to flow from his chest, his ears and his mouth. Then the body was burned to ashes. Plogojowitz lived and died in an era that saw a virtual plague of reported vampirism sweep through eastern Europe. During the seventteenth and eighteenth centuries, it was widely believed in that part of the world that the dead could be transformed into undead souls who preyed upon the living and could be warded off and killed only by certain methods. But the idea of these creatures and their horrifying appetite for blood was not unique to those centuries or that place. It had haunted the minds of humankind long before Plogojowiz's time-- and would continue to do so thereafter. As recently as 1912, a hungarian farmer became convinced that a fourteen year old boy who had died while in his employ was visiting him every night. According to a report at the time in London's Daily Telegraph, the frightened farmer and some friends dug up the boy's body, stuffed three pieces of garlic and three stones into its mouth, then fixed it to the ground with a stake driven through its chest. They told police they did this in order to stop the dead lad's threatening nocturnal visits.
Such fears still survive, lurking in some dark corner of the modern psyche, as witness their recurrent appearacnes in literature and films. The strong erotic element inherent in stories of vampires -- who arrive under cover of night to suck the exposed necks of victims prostrate with fear and desire-- may help to explain the popular fascination with such tales, particularly when they have been romantized for the screen.
When a mystery is too overpowering, one dare not disobey
Sep/20/2007, 7:51 pm
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