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Vampires have become very popular in Hollywood in the past few decades. They are seen as handsome men and beautiful women who seduce other people and then drink their blood from a bite to the neck. They are viewed as powerful and impressive with many special powers at their disposal. More recently, they have even been brought to symbolize romance and desire. However, the earliest legend of the vampire is much more barbaric and insidious.

Vampirism has been around since the dawn of man. Many ancient cultures believed that they could gain power or longevity by drinking the blood of other people. In ancient legend vampires were horrible creatures that came back from the dead and would never die provided that they consumed the blood of the living. They were terrifying and didn't care who they killed so long as they could feed. This horrifying legend slowly worked its way into art and literature.

One of the earliest published works about the vampire is the epic "The Giaour" by Lord Byron in 1813. This poem tells of their lust for blood and the terror of the undead.

In 1897 Bram Stoker gave us the modern vampire. His creation of the vampire gave them many of the modern skills like the ability to turn into a bat, the ability to turn other people into vampires, the fear of a cross, the fear of garlic, and injury from holy water. It is common belief that Stoker used Vlad the Impaler as a reference for the Count, but he only took Vlad's nickname "Dracula".

Some properties of the vampire came later. It wasn't until the 1922 movie "Nosferatu" that people attributed vampires to being killed by sunlight.

The vampire image has more recently been updated to the more powerful vampires of Anne Rice which have only a few weaknesses and are much more romantic and tormented than before as seen in her Vampire Chronicles series.

Later still, the vampire found it's way into pop culture with television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer where they are given a hokey existence that's almost comical.

There are many other myths attributed to vampires. It is said that they have obsessive compulsive disorder, that they have no reflection, that they can be hurt by silver, they cannot cross running water, they cannot enter a house until invited in, and other strange ideas that various authors have created over time.