Thursday, 9 April 2009

De cruentationibus cadaverum


One of the 18th century texts usually referred to in books on vampires is the natural history of Poland, Historia naturalis curiosa regni Poloniæ, by the Jesuit Gabriel Rzaczynski (1664-1737) published in the Polish city Sandomierz in 1721. Apart from chapters on fossils, minerals and various other natural phenomena, Rzaczynski discusses the incorruptibility, flexibility and mobility of corpses, as well as other phenomena related to cadavers, like the belief that the corpse of a murdered person will start bleeding if it gets into contact with the murderer (‘Cadaver hominis violenter occisi, ad præsentiam occisoris, etiam in Provinciis nostris non semel sanguinem profudisse narratur.’).

Of particular interest here is the part on how malign spirits can appear in corpses and e.g. move its mouth, tongue and eyes. It can even make the corpse rise from the tomb and attack people: ‘etiam notatum est, quòd cadaver ejusmodi è tumulo exurgat, compita, domos obambulet, his & illis se conspiciendum præbeat, ac quosdam etia invadat, & suffocare nitatur’. Such a cadaver is called Upier if the corpse is male, and Upierzyca if female.

The full text of Rzaczynski’s natural history is available online at the Digital Library at Gdansk University of Technology.

3 comments:

Amateur Vampirologist said...

Hmm, that's strange. The website appears to be offline.

tanopapo said...

Hello Mr. Petersen, I have thought a couple of times in contributing (if I can, of course) to your great blog – but everytime I found myself too busy to do it. So: in my research, I had the opportunity of consulting and transcribing a microfilm of Gengell's work, particularly the text cited by Rzązyński. It might interest the community around your blog. Here it is (since abbreviations are very simple [basically -q; -> -que], and Blogger doesn't accept underlines, they've been expanded without notice; all other orthographical characteristics are maintained; number in brackets indicate page numbers):

Gengell, Georgio, R. P. Societatis JESU Theologo
Eversio Atheismi

Brunsbergae: Typis Collegij S. J., 1716

Liber I. Pro Deo contra atheos – Tratactus secundus. Propositiones quaedam veluti Principia stantuuntur, conducentes ad eversionem Atheismi.

[122] [...] {Item unde agilitas & motus ipsius cadaveris ?}

Accedit secundò. Quis pluries contigit apud nos in Polonia, Russia, Lithvania: item in Ungaria, ut testantur plura authentica exempla, & ego multoties ab oculatis fide dignis testibus audivi, quòd cadaver humanum repertum sit, non tantum diuturno tempore esse incorrumptum, flexibile, rubicundum, sed insuper caput, os, ac linguam, quandoque & oculos movere, linteamina, quibus fuit involutum deglutire, imò & vorare partes sui corporis. Quandoque etiam notatum est, quòd cadaver ejusmodi è tumulo exsurgat, compita, domosque obambulet, his & illis, se conspiciendum praebeat : Ac quosdam etiam invadat et suffocare nitatur. Cadaver ejusmodi, si viri sit, vocatur ex Ruthenico, Upier: sin muliebre, Upierzyca: quasi diceres, plume factum: hoc est plumis seu pennis instructum corpus: vel quia leve & agile redditur ad motum: vel quòd plumae alicujus generaris, & forsan ex pulvinaribus hominis demortui desumptae, & in cineres redactae, cadaveri leviter aspersae, maleficio huic deserviant. Porro illius agilitatis ac motuum in cadavere, sufficiens alia causa assignari non potest, quàm, quòd daemon, illud cadaver, etiam aliquando hominis Sancti, in finem maleficii possèdit ex pacto antecedenter inito cum malefica, permittente DEo: & tamdiu nocituro daemone, quousque illud maleficium, non dissolvatur. Dissolvi verò ordinariè in Polonia censetur per abscissionem sarcularem illius humani capitis cadaverici: quod, an tali ratione liceat, defendunt aliqui ex eo. Quia [123] major est habenda ratio vivorum hominum, quàm cadaverum: beneficiumque praestatur illi cadaveri, ne amplius possideatur à daemone: cùm melius sit, esse sine capite, & sine daemone, quàm cum capite, & cum daemone. Neque ille si viveret, posset esse rationabiliter invitus. Insuper, cùm illud cadaver sit iniquus aggressor vivorum, potest truncari. Alii tamen ( quibus etiam favet Responsium Revisorum Nostrorum Romanorum anno 1696 5. Maji ) licitè id fieri posse negant acriter. Cùm contra maleficia, uti liceat remediis petitis ex medicina: item exorcismis ac Sacramentis Ecclesiae, invocationibus Sanctorum etc. atque destructione signorum, per quae daemon nocet: sed absque alio maleficio, vana observantia, & peccato, atque irreligiositate: dicta verò amputatio, vel omnes, vel aliquem ex his defectibus, sapiat, praeferatque quandam saevitiam in mortuos.



That's it. Hope somebody enjoys it.

bruno berlendis

berlendis said...

Hy, that's me (Berlendis) again. Last year a had a new opportunity of consulting Munich's microfilm of Gengell's book. Indeed I found some mistakes in my previous transcription, which I posted above -- on that first occasion I was very much in a hurry. I'm sorry for not having corrected it before, but 2013 was an exceptionally busy year for me. So here is Gengell's corrected text:

Quia pluries contigit apud nos in Polonia, Russia, Lithvania: item in Ungaria, ut testantur plura authentica exempla, & ego multoties ab oculatis fide dignis testibus audivi, quòd cadaver humanum repertum sit, non tantùm diuturno tempore esse incorrumptum, flexibile, rubicundum, sed insuper caput, os, ac linguam, quandoque & oculos movere, linteamina, quibus fuit involutum deglutire, imò & vorare partes sui corporis. Quandoque etiam notatum est, quòd cadaver ejusmodi è tumulo exsurgat, compita, domosque obambulet, his & illis, se conspiciendum praebeat : Ac quosdam etiam invadat et suffocare nitatur. Cadaver ejusmodi, si viri sit, vocatur ex Ruthenico, Upier: sin muliebre, Upierzyca: quasi diceres, plume factum: hoc est plumis seu pennis instructum corpus: vel quia leve & agile redditur ad motum: vel quòd plumae alicujus generis, & forsan ex pulvinaribus hominis demortui desumptae, & in cineres redactae, cadaveri leviter aspersae, maleficio huic deserviant. Porro illius agilitatis ac motuum in cadavere, sufficiens alia causa assignari non potest, quàm, quòd daemon, illud cadaver, etiam aliquando hominis Sancti, in finem maleficii possedit ex pacto antecedenter inito cum malefica, permittente DEo: & tamdiu nocituro daemone, quousque illud maleficium, non dissolvatur. Dissolvi verò ordinariè in Polonia censetur per abscissionem sarcularem illius humani capitis cadaverici: quod, an tali ratione liceat, defendunt aliqui ex eo. Quia [123] major est habenda ratio vivorum hominum, quàm cadaverum: beneficiumque praestatur illi cadaveri, ne amplius possideatur à daemone: cùm melius sit, esse sine capite, & sine daemone, quàm cum capite, & cum daemone. Neque ille si viveret, posset esse rationabiliter invitus. Insuper, cùm illud cadaver sit iniquus aggressor vivorum, potest truncari. Alii tamen ( quibus etiam favet Responsium Revisorum Nostrorum Romanorum anno 1696 5. Maji ) licitè id fieri posse negant acriter. Cùm contra maleficia, uti liceat remediis petitis ex medicina: item exorcismis ac Sacramentis Ecclesiae, invocationibus Sanctorum &c. atque destructione signorum, per quae daemon nocet: sed absque alio maleficio, vana observantia, & peccato, atque irreligiositate: dicta verò amputatio, vel omnes, vel aliquem ex his defectibus, sapiat, praeferatque quandam saevitiam in mortuos.

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