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 human – including 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.
(Be sure to follow me for more werewolf, vampire, and other folklore facts! If you like my blog, be sure to check out my other stuff. And please consider supporting me on Patreon – not only will you help me keep this blog running, but you get access to cool stuff in return!)