Scholomance

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The Scholomance was fabled to be a legendary school of black magic run by the Devil, supposedly located near an unnamed lake in the mountains south of the city of Hermannstadt (Nagyszeben in Hungarian, now called Sibiu in Romanian) in Transylvania.

In folklore[edit]

Emily Gerard, a Scottish author married to a Polish cavalryman stationed in Hungary, gave a detailed description in her article "Transylvanian Superstitions" on page 136 of The Nineteenth Century:

As I am on the subject of thunderstorms, I may as well here mention the Scholomance, or school supposed to exist somewhere in the heart of the mountains, and where all the secrets of nature, the language of animals, and all imaginable magic spells and charms are taught by the devil in person. Only ten scholars are admitted at a time, and when the course of learning has expired and nine of them are released to return to their homes, the tenth scholar is detained by the devil as payment, and mounted upon an zmeju (dragon) he becomes henceforward the devil's aide-de-camp, and assists him in 'making the weather,' that is, in preparing thunderbolts. A small lake, immeasurably deep, lying high up among the mountains south of Sibiu [sic], is supposed to be the cauldron where is brewed the thunder, and in fair weather the dragon sleeps beneath the waters.

Katherine Ramsland describes the nine remaining scholars, known as Solomonari, as "tall, redheaded men clad in white wool...[possessing] several instruments of magic and a book of instruction." She also goes on to explain that they are "trained for nine years...overcoming obstacles and surviving ordeals. Their final examination involved copying all that they knew about humanity into the Solomonar's book."

In literature[edit]

Bram Stoker, likely drawing from Gerard's work, referred to it twice in Dracula, once in chapter 18:

The Draculas were, says Arminius, a great and noble race, though now and again were scions who were held by their coevals to have had dealings with the Evil One. They learned his secrets in the Scholomance, amongst the mountains over Lake Hermanstadt, where the devil claims the tenth scholar as his due.

And in chapter 23:

He dared even to attend the Scholomance, and there was no branch of knowledge of his time that he did not essay.

Stoker's reference to "Lake Hermanstadt" appears to be a misinterpretation of Gerard's passage, as there is no body of water by that name. The part of the Carpathians near Hermannstadt holds Păltiniş Lake and Bâlea Lake, which host popular resorts for people of the surrounding area.

In the book Lord of Middle Air by Michael Scott Rohan, the wizard Michael Scot reveals that he dared to train at the Scholomance on two occasions, as there was so much knowledge it could not all be learnt in one night.

In computer games[edit]

The name has been reused in the computer game industry to refer to other schools of dark magic. The warlocks in Bungie's Myth II: Soulblighter are described as having been trained at a school of magic named the Scholomance, and in Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft, the Scholomance is a ruined castle held by the Scourge whose cellars and crypts are now used to train necromancers and create undead monsters. Like its legendary namesake, the Scholomance in World of Warcraft is in the middle of a lake.

References[edit]

  • Gerard, Emily. "Transylvanian Superstitions." The Nineteenth Century, 1885, p. 128-144.
  • Stoker, Bram. Dracula, 1897.
  • Warrington, Freda. Dracula The Undead, 1997.
  • Ramsland, Katherine. The Science of Vampires, 2002.