We trust TVD’s executive producers Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson. We really do. But we can’t help but wonder how Klaus, normal English dude with a German name, became Klaus, badass Original Vampire. The origin story to end all origin stories. Was it a curse? A demonic possession? A genetic mutation? We don’t know for sure, but here are some theories culled from vampire lore and science.
Can I get a witness? Lilith and Cain
According to some legends, vampires have been around as long as humans themselves. While she’s not found in all versions of some ancient Jewish texts, Lilith is often credited as the first woman. In these stories, because she was created from the same earth as Adam, Lilith refused to be dominated by him. She then ditched Eden, leaving an open position for Eve, and had children on her own. When she refused God’s invitation to return to paradise, he threatened to kill 100 of her children every day until she did so. Lilith’s counter offer was a promise to seek revenge upon human children, hence her depiction as a scary, winged creature who likes to bite things.
Putting a slightly different spin on this story, White Wolf games released Vampire: The Masquerade (what is it with vampires and masquerades?), a game based on the idea that Adam and Eve’s son, the Abel-killer Cain — cursed with a taste for blood, an aversion to sunlight, and endless life — is actually the original vampire. Will Smith digs this biblical twist on the legend so much that he’s making it into a movie.
It’s all Greek
According to Aristophanes’ Peace, in an ancient Greek myth very similar to the Lilith story, Lamia was a daemon with a female’s head and torso that transitioned into a snake. Zeus' mortal lover, his wife, the goddess Hera, turned Lamia insane and caused her to eat all her children. Lamia was so enraged that she transformed into an immortal monster who sucked blood from young children. In contrast, Flavius Philostratus’s Life of Apollonius of Tyana described Lamia as a beautiful woman who seduced young men in order to devour them. Either way, her tale was used to frighten small children into behaving. Effectively, we imagine.
And then there was Buffy
“For untold eons demons walked the Earth,” Buffy’s mentor and encyclopedia of baddies Giles tells the slayer in the series’ second episode. Great. But what does that have to do with vamps? “The books tell the last demon to leave this reality fed off a human, mixed their blood,” he continues. “He was a human form possessed, infected by the demon's soul. He bit another, and another, and so they walk the Earth, feeding, killing some, mixing their blood with others to make more of their kind. Waiting for the animals to die out, and the old ones to return.” Ah ha. So vampires are demon spawn. Well, if Joss Whedon says so...
You say you want some evolution?
Remember Lilith? Well, comic book creator Tim Seeley, in his gleefully blasphemous romp, Loaded Bible: Jesus vs Vampires, resurrects her as the mother of all vampires. Only this bloodsucker far predates humans... all the way back to our common primate ancestor, Australopithecus. In Seeley’s world, the O.V. is more monkey than man, closer to Koko the gorilla than Katherine the Petrova. Oh yeah, and Jesus is a vampire-killing rebel. That’s bananas.
Salivally transmitted disease
A tendency towards aggressiveness, hypersexuality, and sensitivity to light that’s transferred via a bite. It took a neurologist, Dr. Juan Gomez-Alonso of Xeral Hospital in Vigo, Spain, to figure out that rabies and vampirism sound like pretty similar conditions. He tied all their commonalities together in the journal Neurology in 1998, even pointing to an old belief that a rabid man wouldn’t be able “to stand the sight of his own image in a mirror.” Not convinced? Historically, as Dr. Gomez-Alonso found, vampire sightings rose along with rabies outbreaks, including a series epidemic seen in dogs and wolves in Hungary from 1721 through 1728. Another disorder, Porphyria, which causes light sensitivity has also been cited as a possible origin for vampire legends.