In exciting news for archaeology, the dungeon of ‘real-life Dracula’ Vlad the Impaler is believed to have been discovered recently in Turkey.
Vlad the Impaler, more formally known as Vlad III but named for his tendency to impale his enemies, was imprisoned by the Ottomans in the mid-1400s in Tokat castle, where archaeologists recently uncovered a tunnel leading to two burial dungeons.
Vlad’s patronymic name was Vlad Drăculea, and his imprisonment preceded his later sadistic tendencies. When he was 12, Vlad was imprisoned by the Ottomans in Tokat Castle along with his brother, and after his release, he fought the Ottomans for the rest of his life. History students will note that Vlad’s battle to protect Christendom from the Ottomans made him a folk hero in Romania, where his raids on the Ottomans were viewed as a valiant effort to protect Romanians from encroaching Turkish rule.
While Vlad is commonly cited as the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, literary critics have speculated that Stoker drew the concept from the sidhe – a supernatural race in Irish and Scottish mythology that live underground where blood-drinking women are often featured. Drawing from mythology is a common theme of great literature, and classics and English students alike should reflect on how modern literature draws on themes from classical antiquity.