Since Bram Stoker, Vlad the Impaler has become Count Dracula a vampire in constant search of victims whose blood to suck. It is very hard to understand how the situation has arisen in which the image of a phantom driven by malefic forces has been superimposed upon the historical personage of the Romanian prince. It is said that, when seeking an emblematic personage for his novel, Bram Stoker called upon his friend Arminius Vambery, a professor at the University of Budapest. The latter told the Irish writer and theatrical director about a Wallachian voievod of the fifteenth century, who was known as the son of the Devil. This latter detail was decisive: thus, in 1897, the famous fictional character of Dracula was born. Why was Vlad the Impaler known to his contemporaries as Draculea? Although at first sight it might not appear to be, the explanation is, in fact, very simple: at N├╝rnburg, on 8 February 1431, his father, Vlad II, was initiated by the Emperor Sigismund into the Order of the Dragon. This Chivalric order was a military-religious organization whose goal was to halt the expansion of the Ottoman Empire. The orders coat of arms consisted of a dragon (the symbol of the Ottomans) and a Christian cross. Since in Romanian dragon is also called drac, Vlad II was given the epithet Dracul (the drac), while his descendants would be named the Draculesti. Vlad the Impaler was Draculea(Dracula), that is Son of the Drac, as indicated by the suffix ea, which denotes origin. All the Legends of Vlad the Impaler, alias Dracula, tell of his unusual cruelty. The often macabre way in which be thought to do justice and punish cunning instilled fear in his subjects. His detractors took care that the chronicles perpetuated only the image of a voievod thirsty for blood. This is why it was very simple for the historical figure of Vlad Draculea to become associated with the fictional character in a horror novel, who borrowed merely his name. It is not known how it was that Vlad came to be imputed with crimes of the kind committed by Countess Elisabetha Bathory, who, in her castle at Cetnie, Hungary, slew more than 650 youths, whose blood she thought had the virtue to grant her immortality. Thus Vlad Draculea enters the category of vampires, of those phantoms that crave fresh blood to perpetuate their pallid existence. The Dracula myth correlates with the symbolism of blood as the elixir of eternal life, similar to a kind of ambrosia. The idea that immortality can be ensured through the agency of blood is ancient: in many mythologies, blood is regarded as the seat of the soul. Hence, it results that by drinking the blood of others the vampire appropriates the soul and thus the life of his victims.
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