The Origin Story of the Vampire as Told by Greek Mythology

Vampires are mysterious creatures that have fascinated humans for centuries, so much so that we’ve had several ‘vampire scares’ throughout history. In fact, there are numerous stories about the origin of vampires dating back to different ancient civilizations. One, in particular, is the fascinating tale of Ambrogio. To give you a better view, here is a detailed origin story of the vampire as told by Greek mythology.

The Oracles’ Prophecy

This story is all about Ambrogio. He was born in Italy, and growing up, he dreamed of going to Greece so the Oracle of Delphi could read his future. When he became an adult, he sailed west and traveled east to reach Delphi, where the Temple of Apollo (the sun god) was located.

When Ambrogio reached the temple, he asked the Oracle about this future. The Oracle gave a cryptic message, saying, “The curse. The moon. The blood will run.”

The following day, Ambrogio met a beautiful woman named Selene who happened to not only be a maiden of Apollo’s temple but also the sister of the Oracle. For the next couple of days, Ambrogio and Selene met every morning. Soon, the two fell in love with each other.

Apollo’s Curse

The origin of the vampire, according to Greek mythology, began the day before Ambrogio had to leave Greece. That day, he asked if Selene would like to marry him and return to Italy with him. She agreed, and they set plans for the following day to travel to Italy together.

Unfortunately, the God Apollo was very fond of Selene, and he was enraged after finding out about Ambrogio’s plan to take Selene to Italy. He did not want Ambrogio leaving Delphi with one of his favorite temple maidens. So, at sunset, Apollo cursed Ambrogio, making it so he could not go out into the sun without his skin burning. As a result, Ambrogio couldn’t meet Selene as they had planned. So, Ambrogio decided to ask for protection from Hades.

The Deal with Hades

The god of the underworld listened to Ambrogio’s problem. However, Hades wasn’t about to give out a free favor. Ambrogio had to do something for him before Hades would grant him protection. The deal was that Ambrogio must steal Artemis’ silver bow. Additionally, he had to leave his soul in the underworld as collateral.

Ambrogio had no choice but to agree to the deal. Afterwards, he started his journey with 11 arrows and a magical bow, tools given to him to help him hunt to gain favor from Artemis (the goddess of the hunt and Apollo’s twin sister).

Ambrogio Made a Deal with Artemis

At this point, Ambrogio needed to contact Selene to let her know what had happened, but he didn’t have any traditional tools to leave her a message. He had parchment but no writing utensils or ink. So, he used a swan’s blood as ink and one of its feather as a pen. Then, he wrote a letter for Selene, explaining what had happened to him. When Selene found the letter, she was devastated, but she couldn’t have Apollo find out that she knew for fear that she may enrage him more.

For 44 days Ambrogio continued to kill swans and use their blood to write messages for Selene. After draining the swan’s blood, he would offer the swan to Artemis in an attempt to gain her favor.

On the night of the 45th day, Ambrogio missed his target. Unfortunately, he lost his last arrow in his failed attempt. Artemis was pleased after seeing Ambrogio’s dedication, so she came down upon him to find him weeping. Ambrogio begged the goddess to lend him her arrow and bow so that he could kill a swan and leave a letter for his beloved Selene.

Eventually, Artemis gave her silver bow and arrow to Ambrogio. In desperation, Ambrogio started running towards the cave of Hades. When the goddess realized Ambrogios’ plan, she cursed the young man, causing silver to burn his skin. As a result, he dropped the bow. Afterwards, the goddess was furious; however, Ambrogio begged for forgiveness. After explaining the events to Artemis, the goddess gave him one more chance.

Artemis made Ambrogio a great hunter, giving him the strength and speed to hunt as well as any beast. Aside from that, she also gave him fangs so he could drain blood from beasts to write his letters to Selene. However, Ambrogio, in return, had to worship Artemis forever. The goddess was a perpetual virgin, and all her followers needed to remain chaste. For this reason, Ambrogio was not allowed to touch, kiss, or have children with Selene.

Drained of any other options, Ambrogio made the deal with Artemis and killed a swan so he could write a letter to Selene. In the note, he told Selene to meet him by the water.


The Final Years of Ambrogio and Selene

The following morning, Selene saw Ambrogio’s ship. There, she found a wooden coffin with a letter informing her to order the captain to sail. The note instructed her to open the coffin after sunset. That night, Selene opened the casket and found Ambrogio alive.

For the next couple of years, the lovers stayed in a cave when the sun was up and worshiped Artemis at night. Eventually, Selene grew older while Ambrogio remained young (thanks to the curses put upon him). One day, Selene fell ill. Ambrogio decided to ask Artemis to make Selene immortal, too. The goddess was grateful for the man’s dedication, so she made another deal with him.

Artemis told Ambrogio that he could touch Selene to drain her blood. His actions will kill his beloved woman; however, her blood combined with his could give eternal life to those who drink it.

Ambrogio refused to kill Selene. However, she convinced him to do it after learning the full events of his story. So, Ambrogio bit Selene’s neck and drank her blood. After setting her body on the ground, Selene was bathed in moonlight and was raised to the sky. When she reached the moon, it radiated with bright light. From there, she was turned into the “goddess of moonlight.”

The story of the origin of vampires according to Greek mythology ends when Selene’s light reached the earth. Her radiance touched Ambrogio and created their children, vampires who, too, carry their blood.

Maria is a contributor who is passionate about health, fitness, travel, and beauty. During her free time, she tries to discover the beauty hidden in the chaos of today's fast-paced way of life. With a background in health and medicine, she hopes to inspire you to start living a fun, active, and adventurous lifestyle through her writing.

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