DE MASTICATIONE MORTUORUM: “On the Chewing Dead”

Because Zombies are always fun, today National Geographic brings us a Latin manuscript from 1679  by Philip Rohr that instructs the learned on how to best combat “the Chewing Dead.”

When tracing the origins of both Vampire and Zombie mythology this is one of the manuscripts that comes up often. An excerpt from the manuscript:

For if they truly chew by the action itself of the dead, someone among us might try to drive a pin into them, but it would be a most unfortunate attempt. For they want the exhumed chewing cadavers to be punished by severing the heads, and for them to be transfixed through the middle of the body with stakes driven into the earth. Such was the fate that befell the above cadavers in the year 1345 and 1603, and lastly in the place mentioned. For such a remedy is indeed least approved by the intelligent, for it is morally, physically and politically evil. Morally inasmuch as one sins against God, who forbids [us] to act prejudicially against the dead; for it is indeed a kind of harm wrought to the dead, when they are exhumed, [avoiding which] the pestilential fluid might be prevented from spreading; one sins against the neighbor, whose reputation begins to decline when, having been dug up out of the grave, he is decapitated and transfixed with a stake.

Read the full article, with more translation and pictures of the manuscript at National Geographic Explorer.

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~ by K. Ritcheson on February 22, 2010.

One Response to “DE MASTICATIONE MORTUORUM: “On the Chewing Dead””

  1. That manuscript is not supposed to be about zombies, its about vampires… thus the severing of the head and the driving of the stake into the corpse!

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