Thursday, 20 December 2007

Lycanthropy 101 - The Romans

I am currently researching Lycanthropy (werewolves). And it's a fascinating subject to read about in the bold light of day. Though I have often promised myself to take my laptop into the local cemetery on a full moon and see what packs in first, me or the battery.

It seems we have the Romans to blame of our current horror movie take on wolfmen. They loved a scary story in those days... it's always been part of the human condition it seems, scaring the bejeezus out of ourselves. There are many werewolf stories from that time that have survived.

The eponym comes from Lycaeon, King of Arcadia, a terrible dinner host, who tried to trick the god Jupiter into cannibalism, "Tastes just like chicken, your Divineness." (is it really cannibalism if a God eats leg o'mortal?) Anyhoo, Jupiter cursed him and changed him into a wolf, where upon he ran amuck through the cattle fields.

It's a good job he didn't met any Boanthropes! They're the were-cows...yes there are civilisations that have people who turn into vicious cows. Each to his own. Maybe this came about in a country where cows were very tall and intimidating? In parts of Northern Europe we have were-bears, but that may be attributed to Shamanism? And of course the were-hare, whom few could outrun.

The story of Lycaeon continued with further stories of Arcadian human sacrifices, where the deceased was nibbled upon (just one little taste, no one will notice) and of course the nibbler turned into a wolf for ten years. After that he returned to human form and took part in the Olympics. Any wonder they do tests.

As I researched (in daylight) I found some really great sites. I loved shifting through the artwork on Werewolves of Suburbia at Parts of it are out of date and its hard to trace the contributors. But I've littered this piece with some of the drawings I really liked.

Next time we will look at Werewolves of the Middle Ages, and there may be a pop quiz.

Artwork by Gak, Gyrf, and Mystie Crinos.

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