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====Vampires in European folklore====
[[File: Dracula 2.jpg|200px|thumb|left|A portrait of Vlad the Impaler]]
Many cultures have myths and legends about vampires and the first known references to these beings were in Ancient Mesopotamia. These figures are
very common in European legends, especially in the Balkans. Traditions about the vampire are in particular very much associated with Romania. Vampires are typically beings, who were once human, had died, and continue to exist because they are feeding on some vital force, usually the blood of the living. They are classed as a species of revenant, and that is a visible ghost or spirit.
Typically, they were criminals, social deviants, witches, and suicides, in life. These undead figures would haunt their old homes and remote areas. They are usually portrayed as evil figures who do harm to innocent people and often kill them, in their efforts to obtain blood.<ref> Frayling, Christopher (Vampyres, Lord Byron to Count Dracula (London: Faber, 1991), p 6 </ref>
[[File: Dracula 4.jpg|200px|thumb|left|Bela Lugosi as Dracula c 1939]]
Stoker (147-1912) was not the first to write about vampires. Polidori and Sheridan Le Fanu previously wrote about Vampires and these tales are considered to be masterpieces of the genre. Stoker’s character was different, and the vampire is as a very ambiguous and even human figure, unlike the traditional depictions of the beings as simply hideous and monstrous beings. In Stoker's work, Count Dracula’s early years are only briefly discussed. It appears that he was a member of the landed nobility and belonged to the Selkyer ethnic group, who are kin to the Hungarians. The native land of the Count is described as the land beyond the forest
, this is an old term to refer to the region of Transylvania in modern Romania.
Count Dracula we are told was
an outstanding figure in his times. He was a leader of his people and was also a great knight. The Count was very brave in the defense of his homeland against the Ottoman Turks, who constantly attacked his people. In Stoker’s novel, Dracula was a great warrior and knight who fearlessly fought the Muslim Turks and helped to maintain the freedom of his native land and people. The character is shown to be possessed of great intellect and a ferocious curiosity.<ref> Bram Stoker Dracula edited by Nina Auerbach and David J. Skal (London, Norton, 1997)</ref> There was no science or art that he did not study. However, like Faust, he grew dissatisfied with science and reason and began to study the dark arts and in particular alchemy and black magic. Stoker has his character studying magic and alchemy in an academy in the Carpathian Mountains in his native Transylvania.
Moreover, he is described as the leaders of the undead and those who drank the blood of the living. Stoker portrays Dracula to be hundreds of years old, but he appears to be young
because the blood of his many victims allowed him to stay young. In the Irishman’s novel, the character is shown traveling to England as part of his attempt to dominate the world. He is thwarted and later killed. Many of the characteristics of the Count were added by later writers and filmmakers. However, every representation of Dracula has been decisively influenced by the Dubliner’s novel.
====Vlad the Impaler====
Count Dracula is one of the best-known figures in the horror genre. With regard to the figure who inspired the vampire, it was evidently not Elizabeth Báthory. While the creator of the Count was clearly familiar with Irish blood sucking revenants and fairies they do not appear to have inspired him to create Dracula. It is clear that Vlad the Impaler was the one historical figure who inspired the character of Dracula. This is seen in his nationality and the fact that he fought against the Turks like the fictional character. More significantly it can be seen in the name of the Count, which was clearly based on Vlad’s surname Dracul. While it is highly likely that the Irish horror writer based his character on Vlad the Impaler, in many ways the vampire is the creation of his imagination. Many of the traits of the Count are entirely fictional.
Leatherdale, Clive. Dracula: The Novel & the Legend: A Study of Bram Stoker's Gothic Masterpiece (New York, Aquarian Press, 1985).
Simpson-Housley, Paul. Bram Stoker's Dracula: Sucking Through the Century, 1897-1997. (New York, Dundurn, 1997).