Werewolf – Lycanthropy
Lycanthropy comes from the Greek lykoi, “wolf” and anthropos, “man”
The legend of the werewolf is one of the most ancient and wide spread. Stories of werewolves can be found as far back as history has been written. These shapeshifter myths can be found all over the word from China to Iceland and Brazil to Haiti.
This humanoid creature of myth and folklore had the incredible ability to shapeshift. They are said to shift into the form of a wolf or a human-wolf-hybrid. Some legends have them being able to shift at will and others after being cursed, scratched or bitten.
Earliest Accounts of Werewolves
Some of the first accounts of werewolves come from Ancient Greek literature. Ovid, in the Metamorphoses, told of the Arcadian King, Lycaeon. King Lycaeon was visited by Zeus. Not believing him to be a true all-knowing god he decided to test Zeus by serving him human flesh in one of the many dishes served at a banquet in their honor. And not just any flesh — Lycaeon served up his own sons’ flesh. Yikes! His son Nyctimus was just one of 50, so I guess Lycaeon felt he had plenty more where that came from.
Unsurprisingly, this was not a very smart move… Murder and cannibalism was a major slight indeed. Upon discovering the tainted dish, Zeus changed King Lycaeon into a werewolf — since he obviously liked human flesh, the wolf form would be a more acceptable form to take part in such a vile activity. Zues then brought his son Nyctimus back to life.
Well Know Werewolves
The most widely know story of the werewolf would be “Little Red Riding Hood”. The origins of the Little Red Riding Hood story can be traced to a time, likely preceding the 17th century,and various European countries. Making this tale relevant to the werewolf-trials of the time (similar to the witch trials). There are many ancient were legends to worn the fragile, small and easiest of targets — children. “Little Red Riding Hood” features a wolf who talks to Little Red Riding Hood and then dresses in grandmas clothing to fool the innocent little girl. Not something any regular ‘ol wolf could do.