The Scholomance (Romanian: Şolomanţă, Solomonărie) was a fabled school of black magic in Transylvania, which was run by the Devil, according to folkloric accounts. The school enrolled about ten students to become the Solomonari. Courses taught included the speech of animals and magic spells. One of the graduates was chosen by the Devil to be the Weathermaker and tasked with riding a dragon to control the weather.
The school lay underground, and the students remained unexposed to sunlight for the seven-year duration of their study. The dragon (zmeu or balaur) was kept submerged in a mountaintop lake, south of Hermannstadt (now Sibiu in Romanian), according to some accounts.
An early source on the Scholomance was the article "Transylvanian Superstitions" (1885), written by Scottish expatriate Emily Gerard. This was an important source for Bram Stoker's novel Dracula.
Twenty years earlier, a description of the Scholomance and its pupils (the Scholomonariu) was given in an article written by Wilhelm Schmidt (1817–1901), a German schoolteacher at the Romanian town of Hermannstadt.
The school, it was believed, recruited a handful of pupils from the local population. Enrollment could be seven, ten, or thirteen pupils. Here they learned the language of all living things, the secrets of nature, and magic. Some sources add specifically the pupils were instructed on how to cast magic spells, ride flying dragons, and control the rain.
There was also the belief that the Devil instructed at the Scholomance.[a]
The Scholomance, according to Gerard, was at some unspecified location deep in the mountains, but the dragon (zmeu, also spelt phonetically as ismeju) was stabled underwater in a small mountaintop lake south of Hermannstadt in central Romania (modern Sibiu, Romania, called Nagyszeben in Hungarian). Stoker's novel locates the Scholomance by a non-existent "Lake Hermannstadt".
The Solomonărie, as it was called by the Romanians, was situated underground, according to folklorist Simeon Florea Marian. Students there shunned sunlight for the seven-year duration of their training.[b]
By some accounts, one of the ten graduating students would be chosen by the Devil to be the Weathermaker (German: Wettermacher) and to ride a dragon (zmeu in Romanian) in this errand; every time the dragon glanced at the clouds, rainfall would come. But God[dubious ] made sure the dragon would not weary, because if it plummeted, it would devour a great part of the earth. The Solomonari's dragon was, however, a balaur according to a Romanian folklorist's account.)
These forms suggest a tie to King Solomon, and it has been pointed out that one account in folklore describes the Solomonari as disciples of the weather-controlling ways of Solomon. Additionally, some assimilation might have occurred with Salamanca, Spain, the famed city of learning, with medieval stories of a sorcery taught by the devil located in the Cueva de Salamanca.
History of the Germanized form
Scholomance has been suspected of not being a genuine Romanian term, but rather a misnomer, created through the corrupted Germanization of "Solomonari", the term for the students and not the school. Such a view was given by Elizabeth Miller, a scholar specializing in Dracula studies.
Also, an impression had formed in English-speaking circles that these "Scholomance" was a neologism first reported in 1885 by Emily Gerard.[c] This is not true. Although Gerard had lasting impact as a major source for Bram Stoker in Dracula, the terms "Scholomance" and "Scholomonariu" had already appeared in print in the Austrian journal Österreichische Revue in 1865.[d]
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 fantasy novel Lord of Middle Air by Michael Scott Rohan, the character of 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
The name has been reused in the computer game industry to refer to other schools of dark magic:
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.
- Schmidt considered the belief in the Devil's presence to be regional, as he laid it out as a firmly held belief in Hermannstadt, which gave separate sets of details. But Marian presents it as a belief in Transylvania in general.
- Marian depicts these students of the (Solomonari) as evil folk , a sort of strigoi (vampire).
- For instance, Elizabeth Miller writes that Gerard must have been the first to publish the word Scholomance. Occult writer Rosemary Guiley stated it was "possible that Gerard garbled another term she heard, as she probably did with the word Nosferatu".
- Also, "Scholomonáriu", a Germanization of Solomonari is found glossed in a German book published 1781.
- Gerard, Emily (1885), "Transylvanian Superstitions", The Nineteenth Century, 18: 136 (128–144)
- Ramsland, Katherine (2002), The Science of Vampires, Penguin, p. 33, ISBN 9-781-1012-0423-8
- F. Hillbrand-Grill: "Österreichisches Biographisches Lexikon 1815–1950 (ÖBL). Vol. 10, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna 1994, ISBN 3-7001-2186-5, p. 299 f. (Direct links to " ", " ") ( ) ". In:
- Schmidt, Wilhelm (1865), "Das Jahr und seine Tage in Meinung und Brauch der Romänen Siebenbürgens", Österreichische Revue, 3 (1): 219
- Majuru, Adrian (2006), "Khazar Jews. Romanian History And Ethnography", Plural Magazine, 27: 234
- Martin, Laplantine & Introvigne (1994), p. 143.
- Lore of Fogarasch (Făgăraș) district and beyond, Schmidt (1866), p. 16
- Marian (1879), pp. 54–56; German tr., Gaster (1884), pp. 285–286
- Leland, Charles Godfrey (1891), , pp. 128–129.
- or just "language of animals".
- Lore of Hermannstadt, Schmidt (1866), p. 16
- Florescu & McNally (2009), p. 217.
- Marian, Simeon Florea (1879), "Mitologia daco-română", Albina Carpaților III, pp. 54–56
- Marian (1879), pp. 54–56; German tr., Gaster (1884), p. 285: "Die Solomonari sind bösartige Leute, eine Art »Strigoi« (Vampyre)".
- Florescu, Radu R; McNally, Raymond T. (2009). Dracula, Prince of Many Faces: His Life and His Times. Little, Brown.
Ismeju [the correct Romanian spelling is Zmeu, another word for dragonISBN 9-780-3160-9226-5
- Marian (1879), pp. 54–56, German (tr.), Gaster (1884), p. 285: "Mit diesem Zaum zäumen die Solomonari die ihnen anstatt Pferde dienenden Drachen (Balauri)" or, "With these [golden] reins, the Solomonari rein their dragons (balauri) that they use instead of horses".
- Miller, Elizabeth, quoted in Ramsland (2002), p. 33
- Șăineanu, Lazăr (1895). Basmele Române. Bucuresci: Lito-tip. C. Göbl. p. 871.
- Oișteanu (2004), p. 221.
- Müller, Friedrich von (1857). Siebenbürgische Sagen (in German). Kronstadt: J. Gött. pp. 177–178., cited by Gaster (1884), p. 283
- Oișteanu (2004), p. 221: "În 1884, Moses Gaster a acordat apelativului în discuţie o etimologie combinată: „Şolomonar este rezultatul dintre şolomanţă [de la Salamanca – n. A.O.] + solomonie [de la Solomon – n. A.O.]"
- Moses Gaster's observation was the first (Gaster (1884), p. 283), according to Oișteanu.
- Charles Godfrey Leland (1891) also pointed this out.
- Guiley, Rosemary (2004), "Scholomance", The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters, Infobase Publishing, p. 254;
- Schmidt, Wilhelm (1865), "Das Jahr und seine Tage in Meinung und Brauch der Romänen Siebenbürgens", Österreichische Revue, 3 (1): 219; reissued:
- Sulzer, Franz Joseph (1781). Geschichte des transalpinischen Daciens (in German). 2. Vienna: Rudolph Gräffer. p. 265.
- Guiley, Rosemary (2004), "Scholomance", The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters, Infobase Publishing, p. 254
- Gaster, Moses (1884), "Scholomonar, d. i. er Grabancijaš dijak nach der Voksüberlieferung er Rumänen", Archiv für slavische Philologie (in German), VII: 281–290
- Gerard, Emily (1885), "Transylvanian Superstitions". The Nineteenth Century, v. 18, p. 128-144.
- Martin, Jean-Baptiste; Laplantine, François; Introvigne, Massimo (1994), Le Défi magique II: Satanisme, sorcellerie (in French), Presses Universitaires Lyon, pp. 142–147, ISBN 9782729704964
- Oișteanu, Andrei (2004). Ordine și Haos. Mit și magie în cultura tradițională românească (in Romanian). Polirom.
- Oișteanu, Andrei (2008). Il diluvio, il drago e il labirinto: studi di magia e mitologia europea comparata (in Italian). Fiorini.
- Schmidt, Wilhelm (1865). "Das Jahr und seine Tage in Meinung und Brauch der Romänen Siebenbürgens". Österreichische Revue (in German). 3 (1): 219.
- Schmidt, Wilhelm (1866). Das Jahr und seine Tage in Meinung und Brauch der Romänen Siebenbürgens (revised ed.). Hermannstadt: A. Schmiedicke. p. 16.
- Stoker, Bram (1897), Dracula.
- Warrington, Freda (1997), Dracula the Undead.