Werewolves have been reported as horrible wolf-like creatures inhabiting our earth for a long, long time. One of the earliest mentions in literature of such a creature came from a Greek poet named Ovid (43 BC – 17 AD). In “Metamorphoses,” Ovid attempts to leave mankind with a history of the world. In one of his books, the poet tells of Lycaon, the ancient king of Arcadia in early Greece
This king attempted to please the God Zeus by offering him human flesh from the dead body of a young boy. Outraged, with a flash of lightening it is believed that Zeus either killed Lycaon and all his sons, or that he transformed them into wolves, all except one (Picture 1).
It is no wonder then that the belief in-and the study of-werewolfs (lycanthropes) is called Lycanthology. It comes from two Greek words, lycos meaning wolf, and anthropos meaning man. In 37 BC, the poet Virgil (70 BC – 19 BC) also mentions werewolves. He tells of the change of one Moeris into a werewolf after he had eaten special herbs. “Oft by their sorcery I have seen Moeris turn wolf and hide. Within the woods, oft call forth spirits from their deep-dug graves …”
Needless to say, down through history’s oft obscure memory, belief in the werewolf remained, particularly throughout Europe and Asia. These ghastly wolf/human creatures, were blamed for abominable subhuman behaviors. Herdsmen and farmers reported livestock lying dead in the fields upon the sun’s rising, where they had been alive and grazing the very night before. Oddly, rarely was the flesh of these corpses eaten. Evidence deemed that the werewolf simply liked to mutilate and kill, just for the taste of warm blood. Sheep seemed to be the werewolf’s favorite victims in some stories, yet many tales tell of women and small children being ripped apart (Pictures 2 and 3).
Of course the appearance of a werewolf was grisley. Ancient drawings usually showed a hairy human-like form with a powerful body, especially the upper torso, chest and arms. Extremities were covered with thick hair or fur including the face. Some likenesses show the face partly human; others show it more animalistic-a wolf-like snout; sharp fangs dripping with blood (Picture 4). The mouth and face is often drawn smeared with blood as if the beast had been gorging rabidly deep inside bloody tissue.
In addition, werewolves and creatures with werewolf tendencies have been reported howling at the moon; having a superabundance of bodily hair, particularly on the palms of the hands; and instead of white teeth, teeth with a reddish tint. Sometimes the hair on the head is red or of a reddish hue. Some ferocious tales reveal that not all werewolves were men (Picture 5)!
So, can you become a werewolf? There is disagreement here. If you were born on December 24th, you have a greater chance than others. If a werewolf bites you, you may then become one, much like the change that occurs when a vampire bites a victim. Are you certain of your DNA? Lycanthologists claim the deeply recessive werewolf gene is passed on through DNA from ages past. You and I may not even know we possess this trait until some strange circumstance causes transmogrification. For certain, let us never strip naked, and then dress in clothing made entirely from the skins of wolves for this could loosen the werewolf within.
Hollywood has done much to advance the belief that not only is the existence of werewolves probable, but that they may be walking amongst us waiting for some unusual shock or event to cause them to shape-change. For certain, the belief in the beastly werewolf has been around for at least 2000 years, possibly ever since early ancient sheepherders discovered part of their flock ripped asunder with no apparent explanation.
If you should encounter a werewolf, run for your china closet and grab a piece of your finest silver from one of its drawers. Touching a silver object against a werewolf might stop it. If you are lucky enough to have a pistol, load it with a silver bullet-of course, I wouldn’t be too fussy. I’d load the gun with any ammunition I found because werewolves rip humans apart rather quickly.