Encyclopedia of Vampire Mythology

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GELLO

(GEL-oh)
Variation: Drakaena, Frakos, Gallu, Gelloudes, Ghello, Gillo, Gyllou, Gylo, Lamis, the Lady of Darkness.
As early as 600 B. C. the story of Gello has been with us. The ancient Greek poet Sappho mentions this earliest vampire in her poetry. By the Byzantine period (A. D. 330 to A. D. 1453) Gello was transformed into the demon Gylu and was written of in an ancient text entitled Apotrofe tes miaras kai akazartu Gyllus ("Averting of the wicked and impure Gylu") . The text is a story as well as a spell to be used against her.
Gello, as the story goes, was once a maiden from the Isle of Lesbos who died without leaving an heir or having any living descendants, causing her to return as a vampire who consumed female children. In direct opposition to divine law, Gello uses her willpower and magic to get her way. She plays with kidnapped girls until she tires of their company and then consumes them. If captured, she will become complacent and do whatever is asked of her, pleading for her life the whole while. The one thing she will not do willingly is tell her 12 1 / 2 names, for that information would have to be beaten out of her. If ever the opportunity presents itself, she would escape from her captor and flee, not stopping until she is 3,000 miles away. According to her story, it took the angels Sansenoy, Senoy, and Semangeloph to finally defeat her. First they learned her names, and then they forced her to breastfeed from the tit of a woman whose child she consumed. After the feeding, Gello vomited up all the children she ever consumed. With the children rescued, the angels killed her by stoning her to death.
If the story is being told from the later Byzantine era, the three angels are changed to three saints: Sines, Sinisius, and Sinodorus; otherwise, the story is exactly the same.
Gello's 121 / 2 names are Anavadalaia ("soaring"), Apletou ("insatiable"), Byzou ("blood-sucker"), Chamodracaena ("snake"), Gulou, Marmarou ("stony-hearted"), Mora, Paidopniktia ("child strangler"), Pelagia ("sea creature"), Petasia ("winged one"), Psychanaspastria ("soul catcher"), Strigla, Vordona ("swooping like a hawk").
Source: Bremmer, Early Greek Concept, 101; Cumont, Afterlife in Roman Paganism, 128­47; Hartnup, On the Beliefs of the Greeks, 110; Oeconomides, International Congress for Folk Narrative, 328­34
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