Vampire Fact #8 – Intelligence

I present to you this month’s folklore fact – a vampire fact this time (werewolves will come around again next month, don’t worry)! The winner of this month’s poll is a fact on vampire intelligence, so let’s get right to it.

How smart are vampires in folklore? Are they the super smart suave immortal beings we’re generally used to from most popular culture?

Well, as it turns out, that’s a complicated answer. Why? It pretty simply boils down to the fact that most people assume it’s way too easy to define what is and isn’t a “vampire” (or what is and isn’t a “werewolf” or a “dragon” or literally every other single folkloric creature) based on legends.

There are a lot of things out there scholars have retroactively classified as “vampires” (again: this applies to all folkloric creatures, very much including werewolves, as I’ve covered before). This is primarily because that’s what scholars do, especially to get things like “new” “research” published and theses written, but also because we basically don’t really know where “vampire” comes from in the first place and thus everyone is scrambling around trying to put together assorted origins and similar legends.

Anyway! Regardless, I will go by some of the more commonly-accepted “vampire” legends. Please note there are way too many vampire legends to fully encompass here, so I’m looking at a general overview. I’ll get into more specific, unique legends later in more in-depth posts!

So, broad spectrum, most vampires in legend don’t really have what you might think of as “varying intelligence levels.” Again, I am referring here to vampires and/or vampiric creatures, because as I’ve gone into before, defining what is and isn’t a “vampire” by modern standards in folklore is extremely difficult, as it is with almost all mythical creatures.

Now, there’s a prevailing theory among modern scholars that many vampires in legend are what one might call “base born,” or of low birth; i.e., commoners, not noblemen, not upper-class. It’s important to note that this isn’t always true. However, it often is, so we’ll go with that. Regardless, though, this does not affect their intelligence, only their education levels and lifestyle, no matter what any rich person ever claimed about them.

Vampires are, generally speaking, just as intelligent (or just as unintelligent) as any ordinary humanincluding those vampires that are actually demons, which, in folklore, is quite a few.

That being said, however, many vampires do have odd weaknesses, some of which relate not to intelligence but to specific quirks that some games and settings spin as a dip in their intelligence. Chief among these are things like the obsession with counting, where one can spill a bag of beans and the vampire absolutely must compulsively stop and count every single bean. Thus, you have distracted the vampire.

Of course, most modern things don’t really do that sort of stuff.

At any rate, most vampires were portrayed at least as smart as the average person. Did they have great self-control? No, obviously not, between the occasional compulsive counting and the whole requirement to feed off blood (even if vampires in folklore didn’t have fangs), along with what was often a compulsion not only to drink blood but also to kill people, often certain kinds of people, like women or even children.

Still, none of this is intelligence so much as morals and self-control.

So, there you have it! Like werewolves, vampires are just as intelligent as their human counterparts.

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The Werewolf: Past and Future (nonfiction) – NOW AVAILABLE!

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Since before recorded history, werewolves have captivated human imagination. Simultaneously, they represent our deepest fears as well as our desire to connect with our primal ancestry. Today, werewolves are portrayed negatively, associated with violence, cruelty, cannibalism, and general malevolence.

However, in ages past, legends depicted them not as monsters, but as a range of neutral to benevolent individuals, such as traveling companions, guardians, and knights. The robust legacy of the werewolf spans from prehistory, through ancient Greece and Rome, to the Middle Ages, into the Early Modern period, and finally into present-day popular culture. Over the ages, the view of the werewolf has become distorted. Media treatment of werewolves is associated with inferior writing, lacking in thought, depth, and meaning. Werewolves as characters or creatures are now generally seen as single-minded and one-dimensional, and they want nothing more than to kill, devour, and possibly violate humans.

Hollywood depictions have resulted in the destruction of the true meanings behind werewolf legends that fascinated and terrified humans for so many ages. If these negative trends were reversed, perhaps entertainment might not only discover again some of the true meanings behind the werewolf myth, but also take the first steps toward reversing negative portrayals of wolves themselves, which humans have, for eons, wrongfully stigmatized and portrayed as evil, resulting in wolves receiving crueler treatment than virtually any other animal.

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