How old is the legend of the vampire? The word itself probably originates in the 16th century to describe the blood-sucking fiend who rose from the grave at night to prey on the living - the vampyre. But references and variations of the myth go back far earlier to ancient Roman, Greek and Babylonian times. Ancient writers such as Homer, Philostratus, Apollodorus and Ovid, mention creatures such as the empusae, the mormolyces and the lamia. What they all had in common was the creatures' thirst for blood.
In BloodVault, Book 3 of my Dantonville Legacy series, I introduce the lamiae (plural for lamia) - nasty, smelly, almost gargoyle-like creatures who prey on the young for the purity of their blood. The name is thought to derive from the Babylonian Lamashtu, a mythical female being who fed on the blood and flesh of children. She's often depicted clutching snakes, hence the association with fangs.
By the time we get to the ancient Greeks (some two thousand years later), the Lamashtu had morphed into the empusae or lamia, a beautiful young female ghost who craved human blood. Either she could shape shift into the form of a serpent, or the lower half of her body was thought to be serpentine.
Ancient Greek writers such as Pausanius, Apuleius and Aelius Aristides, describe this creature as a flesh and blood eating ghost, while Aristophanes in his play Wasps (1035) states that the lamia had smelly balls! Clearly, they could be either male or female. Take your pick.
To the misogynistic Romans, the lamia were deadly females who sucked the lifeblood from young men. From there the myth spread to the rest of the Roman world to later evolve into the vampire of popular literature today.
On a final note, lamia NEVER sparkled.
And if you'd like to find out what my lamiae are like in BloodVault, you can get it here - Amazon