Tepes just a victim of 'bad propaganda'

BUCHAREST (AFP) – An exhibition opened July 9 in Bucharest that aims to debunk the myths surrounding Walachian prince Vlad Tepes (the Empaler), who inspired Bram Stoker's bloodsucking character Dracula. "The exhibition is based on historical studies showing that the legends related to Vlad Dracula were aimed at presenting eastern Europe as a primitive land and a source of evil," Austrian curator Margot Rauch told AFP.

Entitled "Dracula - Voivode and Vampire", the exhibit for the first time puts on display in Romania portraits of Vlad Tepes (who reigned twice, between 1456-1462 and then in 1476) borrowed from the Kunsthistoriches Museum in Vienna and the Schloss Ambras museum in Innsbruck.

Manuscripts and engravings depicting him as a "blood-thirsty tyrant" are also on display. "Vlad Dracula was doubtlessly cruel, but not more so than other princes of his time," Rauch said. "In fact he was a victim of bad propaganda" from his western European peers.

One of the engravings, dating back to 1500, shows Tepes having a meal under the eyes of a dozen empaled men, while others have their limbs chopped and their heads boiled in cauldrons.  A large part of the exhibition is devoted to vampirism, several alleged cases of which were reported in the early 18th century, especially in southeastern Europe.

Several treaties on this "phenomenon" as well as essays on whether "vampires are active during daytime" are also exhibited, such as an edict issued in 1755 by empress Maria Theresa "banning superstitions". Rauch however stressed that Vlad Tepes owes his reputation as a vampire to Bram Stoker's novel "Dracula", published in 1897.

The character has since been a source of inspiration for many movies, but Rauch said: "It's time to see Vlad Dracula in another light than that given by Hollywood."

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From the Library

As the 20th century evolved, rational man turned to science to explain mythology that had pervaded for thousands of years. How could a man be mistaken for a vampire? How could someone appear to have been the victim of a vampire attack? Science, in time, came back with answers that may surprise you.Anemia
A million fancies strike you when you hear the name: Nosferatu!N O S F E R A T Udoes not die!What do you expect of the first showing of this great work?Aren't you afraid? - Men must die. But legend has it that a vampire, Nosferatu, 'der Untote' (the Undead), lives on men's blood! You want to see a symphony of horror? You may expect more. Be careful. Nosferatu is not just fun, not something to be taken lightly. Once more: beware.- Publicity for Nosferatu in the German magazine Buhne und Film, 1922  

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