Werewolf comes from the old English word werwulf: WER-man WULF-wolf
Lycanthropes is an ancient Greek word LUKOS-wolf ANTHROPES-human
Tales and legends told about this supernatural creature come from many lands and times. Werewolves pop up in some of the earliest known texts. Written in 2100 B.C.E the story of Gilgamesh (Noah) tells of how Gilgamesh spurned a lover because she had her previous partner turned into a wolf. In the Greek legend of Lycaon, Lycaon so angered Zeus by serving him a meal of human flesh that Zeus turned Lycaon into a wolf. A Norse tale tells of how a father and his son found wolf skins that, once put on, had the ability to change you to a wolf.
How do you become a werewolf
There seem to be any number of ways to become afflicted with this condition. You can sell your soul to the devil in exchange for a wolf-strap (belt) that will change you. Another and most obvious is to be bitten by a werewolf and have the condition transmitted like a virus. Once you are infected it can then become an hereditary trait and passed onto your children. To sleep under a full moon is a sure way to be changed. Another is to be born on Christmas eve during a full moon. Or the classic Hollywood way of being cursed by Gypsies.
It is good to know that not all werewolves are evil. The Latvian vilkacis were well known for helping people out. The Irish words for werewolf are conroicht and faoladh. Here they were also as kind as they were bestial, supposedly helping lost travellers and protecting children.
Some legends say that a dead werewolf will return as a vampire
One of the most famous werewolf stories is that of the Beast of Gevaudan in France. Where in 1764 a local werewolf killed between eighty and one hundred and thirteen people. It was described as a massive red wolf with black stripes. Professional wolf hunters were then employed and it was finally hunted down and killed with a blessed silver bullet.
“Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and Autumn moon is bright.”
Medical Reasons for the Legends
Those of a more sceptical nature may want to find less supernatural reasons for such furry shenanigans. Some medical conditions can give rise to and aid legends of werewolves. Hypertrichosis causes a large amount of body and facial hair. Porphyria is a sensitivity to light. Lycanthropy is a clinical condition where a suffer will believe they are an animal and will act accordingly. A few documented cases state that the patient believed themselves to be a werewolf. Just imagine if someone suffered from all three.
Remember, beware the full moon and don’t stray from the path