Werewolf Origin and Legend

Origin

The origin and legend can be tracked down all the way to Proto-Indo-European mythology and it has been added and evolved to present day variations.
Werewolf or lycanthrope (from Ancient Greek λυκάνθρωπος lukánthropos (from λύκος lúkos “wolf” and ἄνθρωπος, ánthrōpos “human”) , sometimes refereed as therianthropic hybrid (the ability to shapeshift into an animal), is typically referred to interpretation of the Germanic and Balkan representations in spite of its more ancient origins.

Men changing into wolves as legends can be seen in: Ancient Greek literature, mythology Herodotus (Scythian tribe), Arcadia – all of them tell us of turning into a wolf once a year for several days then changing into humans once again.  The ancient roman poet Vergilius  wrote of a man called Moeris who used herbs to turn into a wolf.


Woodcut of Odin and a berserker

 


It is worthy to mention that Berserkers (specifically Úlfhéðnar – “wolfman”, Berserker- “bear-man” – with time one of the term is dropped and replaced with the other, thus all in the category of “berserkers”), were often with wolf skins into battle, as some Thracian tribes, and a primal and important totem in the tribe of Dulo (the proto-bulgarian elite tribe from where most of the biggest names of proto-bulgarian khans and tsars are) is the wolf and the dog. One of the Bulgarian khans is called Kubrat (Kovrat, Houvrat) and has two origin theories about the name: 1. Comes from qobratiquvrat – “gathering, uniting”; 2. Qurt – Turkic word for “wolf”. Bajan, the son of Simeon I of Bulgaria, was a legendary adept in the mysteries in magic and it was told that he can turn into a wolf.

Of course, of the perspective of the Church in early-medieval Europe, turning into a wolf is the sign of evil and the Devil. In the Middle Ages there were a lot of persecutions of witchcraft and men and women turning into wolves or werewolves. In Estonia 18 women and 13 were accused being werewolves between 16 and 18th century. They were ‘turned’ by biting or scratch from another werewolf, or a curse by a demon. A woman on a trial of witchcraft stated that she ate something, a herb, that turned her into a werewolf.

Also, let it be noted the Egyptian god Anubis – the god with the head of a jackal-dog, and may be the hint of a wolf right there.

 

Legend

The legends tells us the transformation of the man into a wolf during a full moon.
In Ovid’s “Metamorphosis” Lycaon (the son of Pelasgus – the Pelasgians were a mythical inhabitants of Greece), was the king of Arcadia. He tried to test Zeus (the Greek all-father god) of his omniscience to see if Zeus is all knowing ,and served him a meal of roast flesh of Lycaon’s own son – Nyctimus. But Zeus was not so easily deceived and for punishment transformed Lycaon into a wolf and restored to life Nyctimus.

 

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